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MMA: Marketers are great talkers but bad listeners, says Fetch chairman and i-level founder

Marketers are adept at talking to their customers but often fail to listen to them enough, according to Fetch non-executive chairman and i-level founder Andrew Walmsley.

Speaking at the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) forum, for which The Drum is media partner, Walmsley said that marketers tend to focus too much on what new capabilities emerging digital platforms can arm them with to convey their messages, and not enough on using these platforms as a listening tool.

“The challenge for marketers is getting caught in the ‘knowing versus doing’ act. They understand all the different access points consumers have, and that there will be more mobiles in the world than people in the word, but getting over that inertia is really challenging for them,” he said.

He also said marketers are often driven by the wrong incentives. “We are driven by initiatives, like campaigns, rather than being of service to consumers. We are also so often distracted by the shiny thing, which leads us to do really complicated stuff rather than getting the basics right.”

Walmsley challenged marketers to rethink how they approach loyalty schemes, adding that they should scrap loyalty programmes and focus instead on building loyalty into their businesses.

“We use the term loyalty to describe a set of behaviours that aren’t really what loyalty is. Consumers have a much more long-term stake and relationship with brands. So we need to think not about what we can get them to do but how we can be of service to them.”

He referenced Amazon’s one-click payment service as a good example of how a brand has “removed pain points” for customers, providing a service that is simple, and easy and helpful to use.

He also cited Starbucks as a brand that has found ways to bring things consumers find helpful via mobile apps, rather than “building a spurious loyalty measurement and thinking – how can we get more sales”.

However, he criticised Ryanair’s mobile app, calling it “shocking”, despite being a loyal Ryanair flyer himself. “People sometimes snigger when I say this but I fly with Ryanair a lot as I commute from Germany. They are an extremely profitable business and they are always on time. It is essentially a bus service – I’ve resigned myself to the fact I won’t be served a glass of champagne when flying,” he said.

“But their app is shocking – it’s essentially a skin of a website – they don’t actually have a mobile-optimised site. The difference between this app and the one provided by Amazon is that [Ryanair] has focused too much on ‘how can I sell more’ whereas the other [Amazon] as thought more about 'how can I be of service',” he added.

He called for marketers to think more about the consumers and less about the technology, the service rather than the ‘shiny thing’ or risk being disliked. “We won’t even know we’re disliked because we only measure by things like click-through rates.

“This is such an exciting time to be involved in the world of advertising as there is such an incredible outpouring of creativity.

"Thomas Jefferson thought it would take 1,000 years to colonise the pacific coast of the US – the point is we all underestimate the colossus speed at which things change. But some things don’t change, and putting the consumer not the technology, and service not shiny thing at the heart of what we do - that will generate success,” he said.

Also at the conference Unilever’s director of global media innovation Jay Altschuler called mobile the “connective tissue” that holds together campaigns.

Yesterday Google's director of mobile and social ad sales Ian Carrington told delegates that mobile's role in the multichannel shopping journey is being undervalued.

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