Marketers must transform their story to meet the new customer paradigm: McKinsey

McKinsey and Company's Joshua Goff talks digital disruption and how content strategy, customer interaction and big data are creating a marketing industrial revolution

Marketing is going through its own industrial revolution and brands will need to change their approach to content, digital and data if they’re to remain part of the customer’s new decision making process, an industry expert claims.

Speaking at this year’s ADMA Global Forum in Sydney, McKinsey and Company senior leader of Asia-Pacific, Joshua Goff, identified five key levers for meeting the changing marketing dynamic: Retuning the current marketing mix in favour of digital; developing a four-screen strategy; building a content supply chain; broadening the personality piece; and realising the value of big data.

While most companies have dramatically increased their digital spend, it’s not nearly enough, according to Goff, who advocated doubling or tripling that amount on new digital and social activities that provide compelling content and stronger customer interaction. He highlighted the importance of loyalty and word of mouth, as well as changing the role of bricks and mortar stores from sales spaces to interactive parts of the customer journey.

Video: We talk to Josh as part of our ADMA Global Forum 2013 round-up

As part of his presentation, Goff provided a range of brand examples from around the globe to illustrate new ways of interacting with the end user. These included Red Bull’s focus on driving word of mouth through events, and Ford’s efforts to launch a car brand by asking people to blog and communicate their experiences.

Goff then outlined the concept of the changing ‘customer decision journey’ to a dynamic sales and influence cycle. “Customers are no longer following a linear intent to purchase journey; today it’s a consistent cycle,” he said.

“A lot of us are good at the ‘buying’ part, but we’re not thinking about the buying phase itself, or building advocacy. You’ve got to believe all of this activity will revert in a sale, it’s just the way you get there is different.”

For McKinsey, the second big game changer facing marketers is the ‘four-screen strategy’, which sped up exponentially after the launch of tablet devices, Goff said. More screens are coming and more quickly than anyone could have imagined, he warned.

“Screens are changing consumer behaviour, and as marketers we need to spend time developing compelling content to add value in this,” he said. “You have to think about the difference in screen usage and leverage the DNA of each screen.

“Content is the source of competitive advantage.”

However, content also needs to be synchronised across all screens because this is what consumers now expect, Goff said. Alongside the focus on content, brands must create rigorous content supply chains led by world-class editorial teams, while still allowing customers to play a central role in the story.

This rise of personalised interaction has also become table stakes, and product recommendations are no longer enough, Goff said. “Personalisation now means configurable products and services,” he claimed. “We will go even further, to where we as brands personalise the physical experience – that’s the future.”

As a final note, Goff stressed the importance of understanding the value of big data. He encouraged organisations to focus on developing algorithms and APIs to leverage these growing information assets and actually act on information. Only by utilising the data to make decisions can we improve and enhance customer experience in real-time.

“By using APIs can we distribute the intelligence into all channels and across all businesses,” Goff said. “We must then transform our front-line operations. Unless we change that, we lose all the value of big data.”

While the complexity and challenge is daunting, Goff said marketers have to get started now, or they’ll miss the boat.

“We can’t wait; we won’t figure it out completely, but we have to get started,” he added.

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