It’s the technology, stupid

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Initials on how to make the most of the technology available.

In designing the strategy for Bill Clinton’s successful presidential run in 1992, James Carville knew exactly where to focus. As he memorably put it: “It’s the economy, stupid.” When it comes to modern marketing, we can replace ‘economy’ with ‘technology’.

Technology allows brands to do things that simply weren’t possible before. AR, VR, 3D printing, customisation at scale, interactive or real-time outdoor; the list goes on. It’s easy to focus on some of these jaw-dropping techniques, but they’re really just the icing on the cake. Brands exist to answer consumer needs in ways that build preference and margin. The real power of technology is that it empowers them to do this better. First and foremost, this comes down to data: collecting it, understanding it and using it to deliver more relevant solutions to micro customer segments.

In this, our third MarTech-focused article, I’m going to outline how implementing brand-led technology can help you meet the challenges being presented by consumers’ ever-increasing expectations.

When speaking to contributors for our MarTech-focused whitepaper they all zeroed in customer experiences when exploring potential solutions:

Understanding intent

Saher Sidhom, founder of emerging technology design network HACKMASTERS, talked about how technology helps brands spot ‘signals of need’ based on context, and therefore make sharper recommendations. “For me, it’s absolutely about understanding customers better – especially in terms of deciphering behavioural patterns. If you can spot the right signals and respond to them smartly, you’re going to be ahead of the game in predicting needs.”

Getting noticed

Speaking about her time at M&S, Zoe Hayward, former head of clothing, home and beauty marketing at the brand, emphasised the difference between means and ends: “It was important for customers that we embraced new technology to stay modern, relevant and inspirational, but what mattered most and what got them engaged, was that by using this technology we could deliver new customer benefits that were much more relevant to them and made their lives more convenient.”

Amit Singh, senior marketing manager at PepsiCo, underlined the point: “It’s noisy out there. Relevance is the only way you can cut through.”

Technology enables brands to get more things right more often. But it’s a high stakes game and you have to pick the right horse to back.

Anticipating the market

The onus is on ‘new world’ brands to be incredibly agile. They must identify significant trends early and act on them before the competition. For Amit from PepsiCo, it’s about “having eyes on constantly. Technology lets us know what the 1% is saying. Even more importantly, it helps us understand what the 50% are thinking and doing.”

Respecting your customer

People know their time and money are valuable to brands, and they expect something back. As Katie Dulake, who heads up marketing from Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, put it: “There’s increasing demand from customers to ‘show me you know me’. If they give you their custom, they absolutely want it recognised in how you interact with them from that point on. You can’t do that adequately without technology.”

So technology and data can lead to more acute insights, more accurate messaging and more rewarding consumer experiences, in turn driving loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. In short it can play a key role in increasing brand love. However, timing is everything. The sector has evolved massively over the past 10 years, and it’s now moving faster than ever.

There are two golden rules. First, you need to be able to identify those tipping points where technologies move from niche to mainstream acceptance. Second, and just as important, you need to ensure the organisation is ‘ready to go’. So, to echo yet adapt Jim Carvelle’s words, it’s not just about the technology; it’s about implementing it swiftly, effectively and in ways that impact every corner of the business.

Dominic Murray, digital director at Initials Labs.

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