Our jobs as marketers continue to intensify and become more complex. Yet, we still need to deliver on short-term sales while building future strategies. Balancing the two in today’s environment is a dilemma exacerbated by the landscape of ever-proliferating technology, sophisticated and oversaturated consumers, and more and more complex playgrounds to engage customers.
Reflecting on several of the key themes from CES 2019 — auto technology, voice, and TV — it’s clear that each further amplifies that already-taxing dilemma.
Trend indicators continue to show that Gen X and emerging groups of drivers are less and less interested in personally owning a vehicle. Companies are putting a lot of energy into dialing in on how to use technology to meet consumers where they’re going to be – from shared vehicles to connecting them in other ways they travel from place to place. It’s clear that everyone recognizes the future will be different for transportation, yet no one seems to have landed on a confident and reliably accurate prediction of this new frontier.
And although autonomous vehicles were everywhere, there was plenty of discussion around research revealing that, even as the tech has advanced, consumer appetite is decreasing for a car that is completely autonomous.
Also pervasive were the connected vehicles and evolution of independent technology. It seems that car manufacturers are at an inflection point of deciding whether to lean into OEM technology or compatibility. Maybe car companies don’t have to have every whiz-bang feature, but rather can focus on making the most compatible car, where the consumer can decide which parts they want to add to futurize their vehicle. From smart rear view mirrors to voice technology – the smart move may be to lean on the true industry leaders in tech to develop the offering and for car manufacturers to adapt to compatibility mode to allow consumers to opt in whichever way they choose. Will they go with owned tech or compatibility? We’ll see.
Google and Amazon were pervasive and were on the tip of the majority of the vendors’ tongues as they were hocking their wares. Whether one player eventually dominates, or both continue to battle it out for top positioning, it’s clear that voice will be an instrumental player going forward. It’s predicted that, by 2020, 50% of all consumer inquiries will happen with voice, so it’s no surprise that device makers are paying attention and the battle is intensifying.
TV is no longer just on your living room wall; it’s everywhere. Eight billion hours are spent on devices connected to the internet, and a vast amount of that is TV viewing. How we adapt content and strategize in context is important – there is a lot of power in the world of TV that looks different than our traditional models. There’s was great conversation in one session around how it’s no longer ‘launch and leave’; it’s ‘launch and sustain’ over the customer lifetime across platforms in precision-based ways.
Solving the marketer’s dilemma
With increasing accountability and pressure to perform, the path to future success is not straightforward. In a particularly insightful session, “Brands and Trendsetting Storytelling Across Platforms,” the panel quite powerfully discussed ways in which marketers need to deliver to solve their dilemma. Inspired by the conversation, I’ve peppered in a few of my own:
- Market your story internally. Tout sales successes to build trust in invested, future-minded efforts.
- Build an insights infrastructure – with the right technology and talent – to reliably use your data to make business decisions and show performance.
- Speed, agility, and efficiency are the new norms. Push clients and partners to go faster in everything you do.
- If you’re not piloting and testing, you’re failing. Delivering for the right now without also innovating for the future will lead to languishing results more quickly than ever before.
- As a marketer, you will live and die on trust.
The importance of trust in solving the marketer’s dilemma
The connective tissue across devices, auto tech, mobile, voice and how we deliver as marketers and brands is trust.
Can I trust that this device is the real McCoy? Does it perform in the way it claims, and will the burden it’s alleviating truly be worth the money, time, and physical and mental space needed to bring something new into my environment? If I’m struggling with voice technology in my home, will I trust Alexa in higher-stakes situations in my vehicle?
Can I trust where my data is going? What’s being recorded in my home? Will the information I’m putting in a form be secure? Do I have privacy and do companies have the proper safeguards and commitment to ethics to earn my trust?
While a beast of a thing, CES provides a view into the innovations that present marketers with challenges and opportunities.As a marketer, my greatest takeaway from CES is this: There’s absolutely no time to rest on yesterday’s ways of working. We have to continue to dig deep and learn everything we can about evolving technology, data, and unified applications. Working at the rate of change will be the lynchpin to future success.
Tiesha Miller is vice president, growth and marketing technology at iCrossing