Delivering Low Value Marketing Messages is No Way to Demonstrate Loyalty to Your Shoppers

Nov 01, 2004

By John Hennessy

“We can be more precise and more relevant, but all we’re doing with these technologies is using them to overwhelm people with things they don’t want. Marketers are in the clutter business.”

That quote comes from J. Walker Smith, co-author of Coming to Concurrence: Addressable Attitudes and the New Model for Marketing Productivity, as covered by Larry Dobrow in Inside 1to1.

Mr. Smith continues, “The kind of hard-sell marketing from 50 years ago doesn’t connect very well with people today. Now, consumers say, ‘I know about your product. If you want me to pay attention to your marketing, give me something of value in return.'”

In his new book, Mr. Smith stresses that marketers must cede power to consumers and must strive to provide reciprocity. He notes that companies have opened their doors to consumer input about product design and distribution options, yet refuse to give consumers a voice in the marketing process.

One company he believes gets it is eBay. They allow customers to control just about every aspect of their experience, from listing of items to communication to shipping.

Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree with Mr. Smith that marketers need to listen to shoppers and differentiate their
marketing materials through more relevant content?

Mr. Smith lets loose some serious rain on marketers who fail to take the time to align their marketing materials with the preferences of their shoppers.
He certainly doesn’t view marketing without relevant content as a way to foster loyalty with customers.

I’m going to take the claims of Mr. Smith one step further. Marketing materials that fail to recognize the preference of your existing shoppers are marketing
materials that tell those shoppers that you aren’t paying attention. That’s no way to build loyalty

When everyone uses impersonal marketing, you can get away with it. But as your shoppers encounter marketers like eBay, Amazon and others who use purchase
history to deliver a more relevant marketing experience, you won’t be able to get away with it for long. They’ll begin to expect better value in the marketing material they choose
to view and quickly move their business to those who deliver that value.

Here’s a scenario: work on behalf of your shoppers and make your marketing material more relevant. In response, your competitors, still relying on old marketing
practices, will likely ramp up their mass marketing programs. That increased flood of low value content from your competition will make your personalized marketing look even better
to your shoppers. They’ll wonder what happened to their customers. You’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

John Hennessy – Moderator

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