A company seeking to revolutionize or improve its marketing strategies needs to employ specific changes that target its core weaknesses. For instance, one organization may assess its internal capabilities and establish that its marketing suffers from a lack of a customer-centric approach to big customers. Thus, the company changes its marketing approaches to comprise elements such as effective customer care that focus primarily on the customer’s experience. Likewise, another corporation may perform an analysis of its marketing trends and realize that it does not reach its intended customers effectively, thereby adopting specific approaches such as social media or network marketing. Therefore, every organization must assess the internal and external influencers of its marketing capabilities, and implement necessary changes. Yet, there exist new marketing strategies that depart from the established tried-and-tested methods that have proved effective in enhancing the marketing efforts of an organization. This paper will demonstrate that customer-centricity, psychology and emotion-based promotion, and target-specific branding are the most important changes that a company can make to increase its marketing effectiveness.
Customer-centric approaches to marketing utilize data and information to establish customer trends, preferences, and buying patterns. Therefore, an organization needs to digitize its marketing operations to be able to utilize data, which, in turn, informs the most appropriate customer-centric approaches to take regarding a given target market (Edelman & Heller, 2015). Yet, most organization still rely on old-fashioned promotional methods. While they are effective, customer-centric marketing strategies are more efficient. According to Edelman and Heller (2015) customer-centric approaches, especially those that rely on crucial data, result in almost immediate and substantial results. The authors noted, “when done well, we’ve seen marketing operations provide a 15 to 25 percent improvement in marketing effectiveness, as measured by return on investment and customer-engagement metrics” (Edelman & Heller, 2015).
New or existing companies may use the customer-centric approach to target prospective or existing customers. For a new enterprise, customer-centricity would primarily establish niche market areas, customer preferences, and the existing narrative regarding competitor products (Cannon, 2019). For existing companies, customer centricity would focus on re-establishing the relationships, and this could be done by improving customer care, obtaining feedback, and providing after-sale services, among other things. These elements would show appreciation for the client, which would enhance their brand loyalty. Only a few companies have realized the benefits of a customer-centric approach, and this can be ascertained from the fact that most customers continue to utilize the older methods. However, those who realized the utility of customer centricity have realized progress in their marketing efforts. For instance, Unilever realized that it was lagging in customer acquisition and retention. Therefore, it participated in the Insights2020 (i2020) program, where Google demonstrated how to utilize data to inform marketing decisions. The company’s participation in the study was premised on the growing realization that customer centricity had become a vital competitive advantage (Almquist et al., 2016, p. 65). The research established that the insights engine was the most important factor in driving customer-centric growth. Consequently, Unilever adopted the technology and implemented it in its operations, and realized a 4.1% increase in sales in the year 2015 (Almquist et al., 2016, p. 65). Rather than taking a trial-and-error approach, Unilever engaged customer-centricity and identified exactly what its marketing lacked, thereby transforming its marketing effectiveness.
Unilever’s participation in the tech-based program by Google (i2020) was an appropriate step for the company as it helped the company identify a crucial element in the contemporary marketing environment, namely, customer-centricity. Also, the program outlined how best a multinational corporation could implement a customer-centric approach to its products to achieve the most promising results. As mentioned above, one of Unilever’s strategy was adopting the insights engine to enhance customer data analysis, which would, in turn, inform its marketing decisions by utilizing customer-specific messaging and channels. It suffices to note that data analysis has become an important element not only in the marketing activities of organizations but also in other elements such as sales and finance (Bellack, 2017). Importantly, Unilever might have adopted the tried-and-tested ways of marketing, which are relatively less effective, had it not undertaken the project at Insight2020. Instead, the company utilized the technological approach it learned, which is harnessing technology use in its product promotions to reach a wide range of customers through a customer-centric approach to enhance the effectiveness of their advertising efforts.
Therefore, customer centricity is an important concept in the marketing strategies of an organization. New and established corporations benefit from appropriate customer-centric approaches as they inform a wide range of factors such as promotional design, customer satisfaction, and decision-making, among other things. Unilever demonstrated that customer centricity had the potential to transform the firm’s productivity by enhancing its reach to customers. It is imperative, therefore, that any organization seeking to improve its marketing effectiveness starts by changing the way it processes and utilizes data to inform its promotional efforts.
Psychology and Emotion-Based Advertising
“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.” – (Britt & Boyd, 1968, p. 95)
A well-thought-out advertisement may be the defining factor in the competition among similar brands in the market. An advertisement is a social-centered engagement between the firm and its customers (or prospective customers) that seeks to reassure them of the availability, quality, and suitability of the product or service, as well as its superiority over competitor product (Bertrand et al., 2010, p. 265). The most important component of advertising is promoting brand awareness. Letting the customers know that your product exists in the market is the first step. Convincing them that your product is better than the next follows, and then maintaining that conviction is the ultimate goal. Proper advertising achieves brand awareness and helps cultivate customer brand psychology over time. It is imperative, therefore, that organizations figure out ways to appeal to their customers’ thought and emotional processes when they make their buying decision. This can best be implemented by using content that resonates with the target audience’s thoughts and emotions.
According to Canon, (2019), an emotional message “is a summary answer to the prospective customer’s primary and secondary buying questions.” This assessment implies that the content that marketers produce will be more effective if it targets the emotions. However, most advertisers focus on the information element of their advertising content, thereby failing to capture the essential component of the customer’s buying decision. According to Oetting (2019), “people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions — and that emotional responses to ads are more influential on a person’s intent to buy than the content of an ad.” This assessment has been corroborated by different studies. Therefore, firms should depart from ordinary messaging in their ad content to more emotional messages.
For instance, Chipotle adopted this strategy by having promotional messages on their soda cups that appealed to children and the hip urban environment, thereby overtaking Taco Bell as the leader in the fast food business. This happened even though Chipotle’s products were more expensive than Taco Bell’s, and that Taco Bell had been in the industry longer. One critical element of Chipotle’s use of psychology and emotion in its messages was the use of graffiti and drawings targeting specific customers. For instance, it had cups with dinosaur drawings and other fictional figures such as Superman and Batman, which were primarily meant for children (Collman, 2019). Moreover, it had other cups with informational messages and ‘did you know’ facts, which mainly served college students and young adults. In this regard, every age group felt represented at Chipotle, as the promotional messages appealed to each one of them. This way, the company was able to command a huge following of loyal customers. In contrast, Taco Bell did not change its promotional messages and used the same containers it had always been using, and also used billboards as the main promotional tool. This made it easy for Chipotle to utilize the novel marketing ideas to beat Taco Bell in the market. It is imperative, therefore, that advertisers change the content of their promotional messages and adopt effective ways to endorse their products using memorable images, phrases, and music that appeal to the feelings and thoughts of their customers.
As a marketing concept, branding involves the name, phrase, design, logo, symbol, or other distinctive elements that help in differentiating a company’s goods or services from those of other sellers. Branding involves deliberate activities employed towards creating a positive feeling among people about a service, product or company (Schmitt, 2012, p. 9). Despite companies not being in control of customer perceptions and feelings towards their products, they can influence their brand’s reception through effective steps to communicate the qualities distinguishing their products from those of competing entities. According to Canon (2019), “the true cost of ineffective branding is between 10% and 20% of a company’s annual revenue.” This is a hefty sum of money to spend on a venture that does not have a favorable ROI. Therefore, organizations should change their branding approaches from the generic forms to innovative target-specific methods that distinguish them from their competitors.
For instance, Simple Inc. realized that the banking industry was replete with old-fashioned banking approaches such as credit and debit cards, online-based banking, and numerous other products that were too many to choose from, thereby somehow stressing the customer. The established banks had not changed their marketing strategy. Therefore, Simple Inc. implemented a novel target-specific branding strategy that departed from the established approaches. It introduced purely mobile-based banking services that targeted the millions of people who own smartphones. Moreover, Simple presented its mobile banking app with the slogan “Your Money Made Easy,” which differentiated it from the outmoded, cumbersome banking services. Ultimately, Simple out-performed the Bank of America, who insisted on the traditional methods (Roberts, 2018). Simple realized that mobile-based banking would appeal to most people due to the convenience it offers, and more importantly because most people today use a smartphone, which meant that people’s smartphones would serve as their banks. In contrast, the bank of America offered various credit and debit cards, each having different features and capabilities. Simple Inc. branding strategy convinced the customers that the hard work of researching the different benefits and shortcoming of the various cards in the industry had already been done, and they could access their money easily through their phones. This approach appealed to many smartphone users, which explains why Simple Inc. competes favorably against older banking institutions in mobile banking services in the US. Therefore, changing the branding strategy from the generic to innovative and target-specific approaches offers a company a completive edge in the market by improving its marketing effectiveness.
Branding is an integral part of effective marketing. It helps firms differentiate their core capabilities through distinctive brand identity. It is imperative that an organization establishes brand loyalty with the customers, and this can be achieved by maintaining positive interactions with the customers. Moreover, the customer psychology of brand is a critical issue that companies need to watch out for in their marketing strategies. A proper approach would be to identify the needs of a given market segment and providing branding that appeals to their needs. This would create an emotional and psychological connection with the goods, thereby strengthening the firm’s presence in the market. Importantly, a company should modify its branding strategy to conform to operational, modern, and practical approaches that depart from the established and outmoded branding strategies that are awash with ineffectiveness and uninventiveness.
Although every firm must assess its internal and external environments to establish the most appropriate course of action in every given circumstance, it suffices to note that some business elements cut-across all organizations. Similarly, in marketing, firms may have specific issues affecting them. However, as this paper has demonstrated, customer-centricity, psychology and emotion-based promotion, and target-specific branding are crucial marketing elements that every firm must address to transform its marketing strategies. Each of the three elements may be addressed at any point in the firms’ life cycles. More importantly, companies should strive to move away from the established ways of doing things and adopt modern, effective strategies that are innovative and efficient. Therefore, in my view, the three most important changes a company should make to improve its marketing effectiveness are adopting a customer-centric approach, utilizing psychology and emotion-based promotion, and target-specific branding
Almquist, E., Senior, J., & Bloch, N. (2016). The elements of value: Measuring – and delivering- what consumers really want. Harvard Business Review, 46-54. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/webinar/2016/07/the-elements-of-value-measuring-what-consumers-really-want
Afèche, P., Araghi, M., & Baron, O. (2017). Customer acquisition, retention, and service access quality: Optimal advertising, capacity level, and capacity allocation. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 19(4), 674-691. doi: 10.1287/msom.2017.0635
Bajaj, D. (2015). Exploring the market and competitive intelligence research as a source for enhancing innovation capacity. College Quarterly, 18(3).
Bertrand, M., Karlan, D., Mullainathan, S., Shafir, E., & Zinman, J. (2010). What is advertising content worth? Evidence from a consumer credit marketing field experiment. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125(1), 263-305. doi: 10.1162/qjec.2010.125.1.263
Cannon, M. (2019). 9 Strategies to Increase Marketing Effectiveness: Enabling Greater Competitive Differentiation and Faster Revenue Growth – Silver Bullet Group. Retrieved from http://silverbulletgroup.com/articles/9-strategies-to-increase-marketing-effectiveness-enabling-greater-competitive-differentiation-and-faster-revenue-growth/
Chiang, I., Lo, S., & Wang, L. (2017). Customer engagement behaviour in social media advertising: Antecedents and consequences. Contemporary Management Research, 13(3), 193-216. doi: 10.7903/cmr.17673
Edelman, D., & Heller, J. (2015). How digital marketing operations can transform business. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/how-digital-marketing-operations-can-transform-business
Eisend, M., & Tarrahi, F. (2016). The effectiveness of advertising: A meta-meta-analysis of advertising inputs and outcomes. Journal of Advertising, 45(4), 519-531. doi: 10.1080/00913367.2016.1185981
Juneya, P. (2019). Designing and implementing branding strategies. Retrieved from https://www.managementstudyguide.com/branding-strategies.htm
Kenton, W. (2019). Market research. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/market-research.asp
Larson, E. (2018). Five ways business decision-making fails and what to do about it. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/eriklarson/2018/10/06/how-to-avoid-five-painful-ways-business-decisions-die/#7d46c2a78d53
Lauren, L. (2019). Examples of traditional advertising. Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-traditional-advertising-24312.html
Overton, C., Volkman, C., Silver-Pacuilla, H., & Gray, T. (2008). Understanding consumer needs through market research. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, 5(1).
Roberts, H. (2018). 7 Examples of Great Brand Positioning Strategy (2018 Update). Retrieved from https://www.figmints.com/blog/5-companies-that-differentiated-in-crowded-markets-with-brand-strategy/
Schmitt, B. (2012). The consumer psychology of brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(1), 7-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jcps.2011.09.005
Britt, S. H., & Boyd, H. W. (1968). Marketing management and administrative action completely. New York: McGraw-Hill.