Originally featured on Ad Age, Technology: Just One Part of Your Marketing Advantage, Using the Right Tools Can Supplement Your Brand Strategy - Not Replace It.
Marketers are responsible for helping our businesses thrive in an industry on a very tough playing field. The good news? We have a wealth of new technology emerging daily to help us win. The key is to harness those tech tools to supplement your marketing strategy, not replace it.
Creating that well-rounded strategy certainly takes some finesse, similar to how top tennis professionals approach their own game plans. Of course, a champion player invests in the best tools, such as the latest racket or new shoes. But those elements alone won't win matches. It still takes a tremendous amount of hard work, focus and creativity to best opponents. Advertising requires the same powerful mix to succeed, including:
Focus on the goal.
A new platform or software can be exciting, but there's a fine line between excitement and distraction. It's easy to get caught up in learning about new trends until suddenly your campaign is focused solely on leveraging that tool, losing sight of the brand goals altogether. So don't take your eye off the ball. Use technology to your advantage only when it makes sense for the ultimate outcome.
Stay human. Stay approachable.
When we think of the great tennis players, many who come to mind weren't just skilled athletes—they were people we connected with because of their passion and heart on the court, such as John McEnroe and Monica Seles. They weren't robotically swinging rackets.
Our customers won't make connections with robots, either. We have to remain intentional about enhancing the human experience, building connections beyond the impression and creating engagement throughout our campaigns. That creativity and approachability are what set brands apart. Technology should be used to fuel those touch points, not eliminate them.
Look for win-win scenarios.
As marketers, our goal is to find that strategic intersection where everyone benefits. Consider the food brand that wanted to reach customers at retail who were looking for barbecue supplies. This brand found the win-win: It used custom content and live-streaming videos to, first, educate and engage shoppers; second, spur sales of their barbecue sauce; and, finally, increase the retailer's site traffic. And the customers? They used that custom content and purchase to create the perfect backyard get-together. If marketers are innovative in their approach, they might even earn some PR for the efforts as well. Talk about everyone winning! As one of my colleagues once said, "Sell the party, and the grill and charcoal will sell themselves."
Don't forget to keep score.
Looking to serve up an ace? The power of data is indisputable, particularly in the retail environment, where marketers can use data as the ideal tool to deliver just the right message to the right customer at the right time. For example, the combination of first-party shopper data with product insights can help point a pet owner to the right vacuum cleaner as he or she browses social media. For brands and retailers, it's about working together to find intersections among their data pools.
But don't stop there. Keep the data coming full circle by showing the value you just delivered to your brand.
The tools may have changed, but we marketers are still playing to win. Just as tennis players may have ditched their wooden rackets for lightweight graphite, they’re still playing the same game. Sure, keep your game plan fresh. Leverage the best technology. But most importantly, keep yourself on the court swinging as hard—and as strategically—as you can.