When it comes to emerging technology and digital innovations, marketers want to be bang up to date. According to Gartner, CMOs are expected to spend more on marketing technology than CIOs will spend on overall technology in 2017. Given the jaw dropping boom in new tools such as marketing automation (MA), perhaps this is no big surprise.
But, when it comes to impressing a new prospect, will technology alone deliver the right first impression to ensure a long-lasting customer relationship?
We put this question to our panel of experts at Man Bites Dog’s Big Bite event last month, and discovered that while new technologies are a key part of any marketer's toolkit, creative and compelling client-focused content is still this season’s hottest trend.
Bernard O’Brien, Director, Marketing Operations, Consulting at Deloitte, explained: “We have to nurture relationships very carefully and let our prospects ‘eat something that they want to eat’, i.e. content from us.” This view was echoed by Julie Parsons, Global Marketing Communications Director at White & Case, who said: “We need an unrelenting focus on understanding our clients’ needs and to deliver products and services that meet those needs.”
So, clearly substance still triumphs over style. But, how can we ensure we’re ‘catwalk ready’ when it comes to showcasing our marketing and content capabilities?
Don’t just dress to impress. MA has well and truly arrived and is promising the world: streamlined processes, bespoke communications and improved sales and marketing relationships. It looks great and many of us have fallen in awe of its charms and capabilities. But looking pretty can only get you so far. While MA can be an effective tool for distributing and analysing marketing activity, it’s not a replacement for compelling content, useful insight and exciting storytelling.
Make an instant impact. To win over a new prospect, content ideas need to pack a punch. Content should create a consistent, cumulative impact via a compelling narrative that unites your internal teams, excites your audience and creates worthwhile interactions that your sales team can capitalise on. As more and more resources are spent on marketing technology, there is a real risk that creative ideas and content become an afterthought.
Leave a lasting impression. Despite the best intentions, content often fails to leave a lasting impression. In all the MA excitement, marketing programmes are often initiated without a clear strategy, or are knocked off-course by various stakeholders. With a lack of focus, exciting ideas can quickly become diluted, disjointed and unmemorable. Any marketing outreach, via MA or otherwise, needs to be based on clear objectives and have your audience's concerns and interests at the core.
We all want to be up-to-date with the latest fashions, but no one wants to be a fashion victim. To avoid a major faux pas, you need to develop a content strategy based on an understanding of how your audience consumes content, as well as what they might want at each stage of the buyer journey. For tips and advice on activating content, via MA or otherwise, check out our No Contest guide.