Confessions of an aspirational marketer

July 18, 2016 | By

Originally posted on Medium

Anyone who has read basically anything I’ve written over the last 18 months knows that “building the dream” is the vision, goal, and ambition of my company and, by proxy, me. And trust me, I believe in it. I mix up the kool-aid; cast the hook, line, and sinker for others to swallow; and lead veritable mixed-faith services for my fellow Dreamers on a weekly basis. I’m all in and as the senior marketer, I have a responsibility to evangelize our message, externally and internally. Many organizations look to their marketers to be the voice of the customer and lead the transformation to what Forrester has for years referred to as “customer obsession.” Rightly so: marketers are on the front lines of brand engagement and play an integral role in shaping the experience prospects and customers have.

But here’s a dirty little secret that I hope my fellow marketers won’t mind me sharing: I’m totally sick of being told about the empowered customer, the speed of technology adoption, the paramount importance of data-driven marketing, and that I need to be breaking down silos.

Guess what? I know.

And I aspire to be the type of marketer that has accomplished such a remarkable business transformation whereby everyone in the company works in perfect harmony with a singular fixation on delivering the perfect customer experience.

The vast majority of marketers I know are working on objectives that can generally fit into the concepts of being more customer-first: data, experience, delivery, etc. And all want to do well by the customer and their brand. And none that I’ve encountered yet has KPIs related to “customer obsession;” none has a performance review item for “360º view of the customer achieved;” no one I’ve talked to has the luxury of spending all their time in happy, cross-departmental journey mapping workshops.

Nope. Today’s marketers are juggling a whole series of competing priorities without a lot of clear guidance on how to do our day jobs while also moving toward this grander vision. I need pragmatic, measurable, achievable solutions to help me acquire new customers and retain existing ones which is fundamentally what my job is about. I believe that I can be both a change agent and a kick ass marketer — and berating me about digitally-empowered consumers who have higher expectations that I could meet with a single view of the customer (!!!!!!!) isn’t going to get me there.

I see the business value in all of this – I really do. But my team and I also live the day-to-day challenges and look for solutions that help us, brick-by-brick, lay the groundwork for a gradual but stable, lasting, and scalable evolution of the way we engage with customers. Solutions that help us become more efficient and effective with our advertising efforts for better spend-to-lead ratios and lower acquisition costs; that help us deepen engagement and provide the right content and resources to different people with unique motivations when they interact with us to move them further down the decision path; that allow us to communicate with customers through the channels they prefer in a way that measurably contributes to loyalty, advocacy, and retention.

I’m an aspirational marketer. I harbor huge plans. And my job, my responsibility, my commitment is to help my company acquire and retain customers — and to do that a little better every week, every month, every quarter. Incremental, strategic, continuous progress is the best kind. Rome wasn’t built in a day — and it wasn’t torn to the ground to be modernized either.

Brick by brick — that’s how I build dreams.

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