Marketing in the Big World

Marketers are embracing the big question today: How do you map and influence the complete customer journey? That’s the whole trip, from creating interest in your category, to educating them on the space, becoming a brand they want to do business with, and finally to making a purchase.

The Big World
Marketing in the Big World means taking responsibility for each customer’s full Odyssey, not just dropping a Cyclops on them. Credit: NASA, Visible Earth.

For many years at Target Marketing, we took the approach that direct marketing is what happens when you send a targeted audience an offer, some of them take it, and you add that information into your house list to keep marketing to them in the future.

That’s not a simple process, and I don’t want to make it out to be. It reminds me of a master jeweler creating value by crafting the perfect cut of a gem.

But it’s a small world: Offer, list, capture data, analyze, new offer. Know your list. Love your list! Become an expert on helping it grow and finding ways to increase conversions and lifetime value through your chosen channels.

It’s the realm of a specialist measuring ROI to, as Denny Hatch likes to say, “The gnat’s eyebrow.”

And isn’t that exactly why direct marketing became it’s own tightly knit community? Because this highly profitable style of targeted, accountable marketing wasn’t welcome on Madison Avenue?

The thing is, marketing is about more than that today. It’s not that direct tactics are outdated by any means. In fact, I think direct marketing has become the most important part of all marketing. (And ask any agency if their clients don’t want return on investment measured to the gnat’s eyebrow.) But that also means it is a piece of ALL marketing today.

Nearly all marketing efforts are expected to drive a direct response, and grow the house database, and gather data on customers and potential customers that will be used to inform the next marketing campaigns.

That happens in the big brand campaigns now, just as much as it happens in niche direct marketing. And it happens across TV, mail, email, online ads, content marketing, social media, and more channels that I’m not even thinking of tonight.

Marketers are embracing the big question today: How do you map and influence the complete customer journey?

That’s the whole trip, from creating interest in your category, to educating them on the space, becoming a brand they want to do business with, and finally to making a purchase … And then continuing to nurture that trusted relationship, expanding their knowledge of your product category and related interests, and sparking ongoing sales, loyalty and evangelism.

That’s a Big World!

To market in the Big World, you need to be able to send a great offer to a targeted list (or custom audience, programmatically defined segment, etc) and measure ROI down to a gnat’s eyebrow. But you also need to be able to continuously interact with your audience — current customers, prospects, and the wider universe of interested parties who can become those — through social media, brand ads, content marketing and more.

Release the (itty bitty) Kraken!
Big things, small beginnings.

The Big World is a combined discipline of direct marketing, brand marketing, customer service and PR. And it’s often being done best by small teams that handle all of those things at once. Tentacles of the same kraken, even if it’s still just a baby kraken.

Small world direct marketing is Odysseus defeating the Cyclops. Then Odysseus sailing past the sirens. Then the next episode/campaign, etc. Each scene perfected and deployed.

The Big World is the whole Odyssey, being retold and retailored live for each person your brand wants as a customer to consciously create a journey that eventually leads to you.

Who in your company is in charge of that telling?

How well does your marketing capture the whole customer journey? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

3 thoughts on “Marketing in the Big World”

  1. That’s an exceptionally thoughtful and well presented column, Thorin. Thank you.

    Like Denny, I come from the generation of direct marketers who were shunned by those brilliant advertising types and DM agencies like ours (Wunderman) were only purchased as window dressing.
    What we brought to the table was patronized and accepted only when a client demanded it.

    I remember one night asking the head of P&G in Hong Kong how much he could afford to pay for a new mother who was going to buy only Pampers for two years? He looked at me and said he had no idea: no one had asked him that question before. But he was no dummy. Once he focused on this, he became an advocate.

    Yes, it has all changed and the metrics have become much more complicated. When I wrote ‘Profiting From The Magic of Marketing Metrics’, I was trying to get a primitive handle on this.

    The more that marketing executives are required to deliver believable metrics justifying the optimization of their marketing expenditures, what we guys do will become the backbone of all marketing.

    This day hasn’t come quickly but it is arriving with ever increasing speed.You have given it just that extra push.

    1. Thank you very much, Peter! I’m glad you stopped by to read it.

      I’m at Ad Tech right now listening to a session about how online publishers are trying to deliver a meaningful attention/viewable-time-spent metric for online brand advertising. And they’re doing that because their advertisers demand an accountability metric (which until now have been measured by totally insufficient metrics based on clicks and views).

      Now that doesn’t make it direct marketing, but what I see is that even the brand advertisers are looking for the gnat’s eyebrow tick on their measuring sticks and trying to apply logic that directly connects any spend to revenue generation. And that’s turned the industry on its ear.

      1. That’s good news Thoerin. One thought: may I suggest we don’t get hung up on this term ‘direct marketing’. It still triggers an ‘oh, junk mail’ image in people’s minds.

        All good marketing is ‘direct’. What’s different now is that more and more of it is driven by better and better data. And that almost always makes it ‘accountable’ – if not ‘bean-counter’ accountable or ‘ gnat’s eyebrow tick’ accountable at least accountable enough to determine a return on marketing investment, an R0MI.

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