This post originally appeared on the Sogeti Labs blog

Where in prior times marketing was another way to say your business was doing advertisement, marketing has a way different meaning these days. Where marketing was very impersonal we can see a strong shift to the personalisation of marketing. Companies and brands are getting really engaged with people and try to find a spot in all kinds of rapid developing niche markets. Why? Simple, because the personalisation of marketing works. Customers are busy people these days. This is one of the reasons why they love to have a tailor made solution on all kinds of problems, no, their problems, their needs.

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Before we deep dive into the ‘need’ for you as a company to personalize the way you do marketing, let’s focus on what marketing actually is? According to the American Marketing Association (AMA) is marketing:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing in 1950 was a set of tasks to bring very impersonal products on a very impersonal way to people you could often call customers or end users. That changed totally. Through a way of marketing concepts, targeting, global marketing, e-business, brand equity and many, many other definitions, marketing qulickly evolved from benchwarmer into captain of the B2C market.

Image credit: ForbesIndia

And when we look at Philip Kotler’s ‘evolution of marketing’ we can tell that the next era offers one option and one option only. A data driven way of doing business with your customers, a data driven future is the only option companies got. Companies need to look and step into technologies called Social, Mobile, Analytics, Mobile and Things aka SMACT, a completely different way of doing business. Using new technology to determine all kinds of customer needs. The Internet of Things, sensing in homes, cars, offices to gain data every day on peoples inner state of people or external environment can give you a huge competitive advantage to compete with your current competitors. Both marketing and new technology are getting personal.

The shift of the four Ps

Where back in the days marketing was recognized by PPPP – Product, Price, Promotion and Place – I want to introduce the same four ‘Ps’ I found in an article called “The New Marketing Mix: 4 Different Ps” written by Bernadette Jiwa . The same “Ps”, yet with different meaning:

  1. Purpose: “Not what you do, but why you do it. What’s the reason your company exists? Bringing a product to market isn’t enough.
  2. People: Who you serve not what you sell. Crafting your intention around the difference your product or service will make in the lives and stories of your customers.
  3. Personal: Becoming more relevant and significant to those people. How you make them feel about themselves in the presence of your brand is what matters, more than how they feel about your product.
  4. Perception: Being believed and believed in, not just noticed. What your customers believe about you far outweighs anything you tell them to think. Don’t just seek to find holes in the market or to gain mind share, set out to fill a void in people’s lives.”

And when we look for example to the 3 P, Personal, we see that becoming more relevant and significant to people is essential in this process. Bring to people what they need. Not what you think they need.

Determining you customers needs

That bring us to the next topic. From my point of view determining the needs of your customers is the basis of doing business. Business does not start at production. Business does not start at the design table. No. Business starts at the point where you are willing and ready to determine your end-user’s need. What value do you add to their life that they want to pay for?

Receiving the rights answers starts by listening. Listening start by asking the right questions.

“Listening is not only about waiting, but it’s also learning how better to ask questions.”

Jacqueline Novogratz

Remember, remember…

Remember, or realize that we are living in a time where we can use data to answer one of the most difficult business questions in life: “What does my costumer really need.” Of course I realize that this is not as easy as turning on your TV. it is a mindset shift. And for that reason I want to encourage you to look how new technology can provide you the answer on these difficult questions. The future of marketing will be about putting the customer more and more in the middle of the process.

The evolution of marketing

Where we called ‘shooting at groups of people’ marketing in the last decades, companies need to make a strategic shift. A shift to another type of segmentation. That type of segmentation is using marketing as it should be used, customer centric not technology centric. When companies furnish their process like that they will come to the core of marketing: ‘ A truly understanding what drives each individual human being and presenting the value that is most desired’. From group segmentation to psychology of the individual, and to do this, we use data.

Creating competitive advantage starts with questions

Creating a competitive advantage with new technology in the data driven era is not a question asked and answered in one day. Digital competitive advantage is strategy, nothing more, nothing less. For that reason, your company should integrate questions regarding this topic in your current and future strategy. According to an article McKinsey wrote on: “Strategic principles for competing in the digital age” companies need to make six decisions. These decisions are necessary to gain your spot in the digital market.

  1. Buy or sell businesses in your portfolio?
  2. Lead your customers or follow them?
  3. Cooperate or compete with new attackers?
  4. Diversify or double down on digital initiatives?
  5. Keep digital businesses separate or integrate them with current nondigital ones?
  6. Delegate or own the digital agenda?

In a time where the rules of marketing and customer experience are rewritten, in a disruptive time of enhancing digital technology what would you answer? No answer is also an answer…