Calling all marketers. It’s time to wake up. Consumers are smarter than you are. There, I said it. They know our game. Our once tried-and-true tactics have started falling by the wayside long ago as people that make up the core audience we’re targeting are able to see right through the same tactics vying for their attention. Pro tip: those tactics aren’t as effective as they once were. I’m not surprised. People who are actually good at marketing are hard to find. Most of them are bad. It’s easy to understand why when I tell you that marketing is the most popular of all majors available to select form when pursuing a business degree. It’s the “go-to” when you don’t really know what you want to do.
By now in 2016, we all know what we “should” be doing. That is, building meaningful 1:1 relationship with people in-person and online, providing value up front in the form of some type of content, in hopes of a downstream conversion event later on. All of that sounds great, but we’re still having these conversations all over the web about this approach, in part because the methodology goes against our nature as humans, particularly the gen-Y crowd who seek instant gratification over patience, perseverance, and any other “P” word that seems to fit.
If we approach the discussion from the standpoint of consumer behavior and the psychology of what makes people buy, we can connect the dots from the beginning to end with just 2 words – attention and retention. That’s it, just 2 extremely important words that 90% of marketers don’t properly address. Where do we focus instead? If you guessed acquisition, you’re right. That’s what everyone is still focused on to this day, and I get it. We need instant gratification, we need more leads, more customers, more revenue, and more of everything else; but we’re living in a world where the ability to directly attribute revenue to the marketing channel(s) responsible is becoming increasingly more difficult. How do you measure the value of your organic Instagram posts or pictures/video added to your snapchat story? There’s no sophisticated algorithmic attribution model available to answer these questions, but by focusing on attention and retention, you’ll win.
By no means am I saying that acquisition isn’t important. Companies have to generate returns for their investors. It matters, but it’s time to start taking a more holistic view of our marketing efforts. Acquisition will come as a byproduct of earning and maintaining your audience’s attention. Capturing your audience’s attention is a means to an end, but it means a lot. Let’s take a look at an example. Many of us adults have yet to fully comprehend that the 13-mid twenties demographic rarely uses Facebook, opting for Instagram and Snapchat instead, yet the majority of marketers selling products to this audience have yet to allocate any ad dollars to either channel. The first step is to be where your audience is. The second step is to actually earn their attention by catering to their needs and speaking their language, all without ever pitching a product. It’s at this point where you’ll build the relationship to leverage later.
The other half of the equation is retention. It blows me away that most people aren’t talking about this. When we think of customer retention, we approach the term as if it’s negative, even though the word itself is inherently positive. We tend to solely think of retention from a defensive standpoint. “How do we keep this customer that’s trying to leave us?” Rather than going on the offense and saying “this customer has demonstrated success with our product/service, how can we help them leverage what they’ve learned with THEIR prospects and customers?” Again, it’s easy for me to understand why we approach the word the way we do. If you’re in the “acquisition” focused mindset and gain a customer, that’s money in the bank and your job is done. That’s the traditional mindset. I’ve actually helped businesses and have seen through my own first-hand efforts where more money is actually made downstream after the initial sale. Your job is never over. It all ties back to cultivating the relationships on a micro level.
The beauty of these two words is that they can apply to any area of focus within the broader discipline of marketing. Whether you work in digital, product, field, etc., you can apply these two words in your day-to-day practice and I assure you’ll see long-term success. There’s no doubt there’s a lot of details to fill in between the attention and retention ends of the spectrum, but by approaching how we practice marketing from this standpoint we’re able to look at the sum of all of our efforts from a much higher level, allowing these 2 concepts to guide our behaviors and grow our businesses.