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Today’s modern marketers are faced with an ever-changing landscape, in which technology has made a significant impact on how channel marketers connect with manufacturers, VARs, partners, and customers. Not only do marketers have to navigate the ecosystem of the channel, but now – with the emergence of digital marketing, data analytics and data insights – there are new techniques and strategies they must embrace. All of this was top of mind for the 300 marketers that headed to New Orleans for Cisco Marketing Velocity.

All of our senses in New Orleans were sparked. From the food, to the entertainment, (with the highlight of a second-line parade leading all 300 of us from our hotel on Canal St. to our reception on Bourbon St.), to the speakers. The energy of Bourbon St. followed us inside as we explored the new world of today’s modern marketer. For those unable to attend, here are three themes that stuck with me on how marketing is changing in today’s digital world:

It’s Not Digital Marketing; It’s a Digital World: We all know that digital marketing and connecting with the enlightened buyer is the quest of most B2B and IT channel marketing executives. With the onslaught of new technologies and new digital analytics’ tools, marketers are struggling to identify what will work best to help engage with customers. But customers also are living in a digital world. And while there may be a vast number of new outlets and tools to leverage, you need to understand how your customer prefers to engage. Are your customers embracing the new digital world? How do they connect? As marketers, we need to understand our customers better, so we can ultimately connect and engage with them where they are on their journey.

The Journey Doesn’t End with a Sale: As marketers, one of our roles is to identify new potential customers for sales and nurture prospects along the way to that sale. But, at the point of a sale, what happens to our nurturing efforts for that prospect? More often than not, once the prospect converts to a customer, there isn’t as much energy spent identifying future needs. Do we ask for feedback? What additional support is offered? How often is the customer approached to have a conversation about the business outcomes they want to achieve?  

The fact is, as marketers, we need to think more about the customers’ needs and less about pushing our own messages.  One speaker at Cisco Marketing Velocity talked about “Disarming the customer.” This is simply anticipating the needs of the customer by leveraging data analytics and insights so we can provide them with resources, such as trainings, FAQs, and more.

Evolving the Customer Experience: The term “customer experience” may have become a buzz word for today, but it resonates with the modern marketer. It is a shift in marketing that moves from being self-promotional to building a relationship and – ultimately – an experience for the customer. We have so many tools at our fingertips that give us a holistic view of the customer’s journey. Using data insights from those tools will help us engage in a way that resonates with the customer, keeping them our top priority. Connecting with them, understanding their needs, listening to the outcomes they desire, all help create an experience for the customer that they will value.