5 Cs of Modern Marketing
The last few months I have written an awful lot around Seamless Experiences and Omni-Channel complexities, which also reflect my own struggles and desire to learn and understand the space, both from a strategy and execution standpoint. I have tried to focus on reasons why both of these are still far from being a reality, and what some of the foundational roadblocks may be. There is no doubt that the industry at large is pushing hard to get towards the ultimate goal of delivering an immersive, seamless and frictionless consumer experience that changes consumer behavior and inspires participation; ultimately driving top line growth and building legendary brands.
But every time I have done that and have gone back to the real world in trying to make something happen, I have realized and learned something new that was missing in my perspective and understanding of the landscape. Which on one hand shows how perhaps short sighted and ignorant I may have been but also the pace at which the ecosystem and its dynamics are evolving.
With all the back and forth, I have finally come to a realization that the goals and desires of Modern Marketing can be accomplished with these 5 Cs:
Always putting the CONSUMER at the center, both in strategy and execution (more often than not we are missing one or the other). CONVERGENCE needed at all levels to overcome the challenges of fragmentation and silos and of course the 2 channel agnostic pillars of a seamless experience – CONTENT & CONTEXT that if done right, will organically drive a COMMERCE BEHAVIOR.
CONSUMER X (CONTEXT + CONTENT)/CONVERGENCE ——> COMMERCE
Let’s define these a bit more individually and then how these work together as a collective force:
CONSUMER – Always the first chapter in any marketing book you may want to read or write, the mother of all strategies, she is the new CEO within the C-Suite; this needs be a reality as much in execution as it is in strategy.
CONTEXT – In a world where the meaning of CRM, data and “value” is being redefined, the consumer is no longer contented with a personalized communication with her first and last name. Context is about understanding her behavior at any given point of time in relation to her environment, her emotional and functional needs and being able to meet those. It’s an ability to know the WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN she wants something and giving her that.
CONTENT – Represents ultimately whatever she experiences from the brand, no longer limited to any channel, touch-point or device type but pervasive across the ecosystem. But most importantly, this is the CONTENT that is influenced, inspired and driven by the CONTEXT. Content without context or context without the ability to inspire and influence content is both meaningless and will never drive behavioral change.
A great post by Pini Yakuel on mapping content to context instead of by channel or by pre-conceived pathways is a great example of how content and context need to converge.
COMMERCE – Getting her what she needs before she knows she needs it; making it the simplest yet fastest possible path to purchase for her. If CONTEXT + CONTENT was used to drive immersive experiences, a commercial behavior will become an organic output and will not require a separate strategy or planning construct. The challenge is that commerce is often managed in isolation, outside the constructs of context and content.
CONVERGENCE – And of course the toughest challenge of all. The only way you can make all this happen and put the CONSUMER at the center is by driving CONVERGENCE and breaking down all potential silos across the ecosystem:
- Organizational Convergence – Across marketing, sales, technology, finance; ultimately ensuring a common set of goals and objectives centering around the consumer and her experience. Read more in my blog post on the New Marketing in an Era of Convergence.
- Data Convergence – Across 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party, across paid, owned and earned, across social, shopping and behavioral data. An environment where data is the glue that connects the consumer journey together across her ecosystem, making seamless experiences a reality – read more here on data convergence and the new world of DMPs
- Technology Convergence – Technology in any vertical provides strength and power but with power comes responsibility. We continue to run away with the power without taking the responsibility to apply it right. We end up becoming a hammer in search for a nail. We need to apply technology to deliver experiences and change consumer behaviors and stay away from creating isolated pieces of excellence that don’t add any value.
- Skills Convergence – To manage all this, we need the DNA of the modern marketer, the unicorns who is at the intersection of marketing, technology, data, content, creative, storytelling and more; someone who is breaks the traditional T Shaped mindset and goes wide and deep across functions. More thoughts on the Pi-Shaped Marketer.
Regardless of what you call these imperatives – the industry certainly DO NOT need any more acronyms after the 4As, 4Cs and the 4PS – to be quite honest, they all are holistic and will easily encapsulate the 5Cs here. However, our biggest limitation as brands, organizations and marketers has been the journey from STRATEGY to EXECUTION, this is where we have consistently failed. With the consumer at the center of this ecosystem, strategy alone is not enough; she demands real and tangible experiences, she is no longer the “AUDIENCE”, she is the “PROTAGONIST”.
That’s where we need to go a level deeper and get real; deliver seamless experiences at the CONVERGENCE of CONTEXT, CONTENT and COMMERCE; keeping her (CONSUMER) interest, needs and desires at the center as a human being, and NOT AS A SEGMENT anymore.