The Digital Marketer: A book review by Bob Morris

Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric
Larry Weber and Lisa Leslie Henderson
Wiley (2014)

How and why effective marketing depends on finding new and better answers to the same questions

Since the ancient bazaars in Athens and Rome, marketing has created or increased demand for whatever that may be. In recent years, many of the transactions have been conducted electronically, online. Almost 40% of the world is connected and that percentage is certain to increase. My point is, almost all of us are involved in some form of marketing each day, wherever we may be, attempting to attract interest in what we offer or evaluating what is offered to us.

That said, the Internet and especially the WWW have created entirely new opportunities and (yes) perils for marketing initiatives. According to Larry Weber and Lisa Leslie Henderson, “Digital has dealt all of us new cards. Today’s customer journey still starts with a need or a desire, but our prospects often undertake an at times lengthy period of silent due diligence during which time they discover and evaluate their options via the web. During this period of discovery our prospects’ consideration set often grows rather narrow.”

On average, people pull information from 10.4 sources before making a purchase. There has obviously been of shift from provision of information (e.g. functions, features, benefits) to “creating useful resources that address our prospects’ and customers’ underlying needs and desires. If these experiences resonate, we may be invited into the purchase decision process [as consultants, not purveyors]. Serving as trusted advisors, rather than biased advocates for our company’s products and services, we create the conditions for our prospects and customers to evaluate for themselves whether we make the grade.”

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Weber and Henderson’s coverage.

o Three reasons why managing customer experience is worth the effort (Pages 19-20)
o Will We Ignore Change, Grow with It, or Drive It? (31-42)
o The CDO (Chief Data Officer): Expanding Our Organization’s Way of Thinking (50-58)
o Brand or Be Branded (71-80)
o Be Resourceful as Do-It-Yourself Learners (80-86)
o Frameworks for Thinking about Customer Experience (98-113)
o Getting Our Arms around Our Customers’ Experiences (113-122)
o What Are Marketers Doing with Data and Analytics? (135-143)
o We Are All Innovators (158-171)
o Content Marketing Works Through the Journey, and, Where Is the Content Machine Heading? (185-194)
o Tips for Creating Relevant Content (194-206)
o Social Media Has Taken the World by Storm (216-222)
o Fish Where the Fish Are (230-234)
Note: It is also a good idea to know when and what they are biting there.
o Pursue a Converged-Media Strategy (243-246)
o Create a Centralized Marketing Database (271-273)
o Strategies for Designing Loyalty Programs (289-294)
o A Shared Vision of Customer Centricity (300-303)
o Where Do We Begin? (308-313)

My own opinion is that different marketing skills, new or not, are needed to create or increase demand for the given offering in today’s global, connected, intensely competitive marketplace. However, as Theodore Levitt suggests in his classic HBR article, “Marketing Myopia” (July 2004), the same basic questions must be asked:

“Who is my customer”
“What is our core business?”
“How are and what we offer different from the competition?”

In this context, I am reminded of an incident that occurred years ago when one of Albert Einstein’s faculty colleagues at Princeton pointed out that he asked the same questions every year on his final examinations. “Quite right. Each year the answers are different.” The same can be said about how to create or increase demand. Disruptive technologies will continue to require different answers to the same questions.

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