Inbound, content, social, mobile, converged, omni-channel, transmedia. The list of marketing channels and strategies vying for our budgetary attention goes on and on.
Where should companies invest to attract more attention and engage those that would influence or act on buying?
To answer that question, we could consider the promotional advantages of each discipline:
- Inbound Marketing – Inbound drives 54% more leads than outbound (HubSpot)
- Content Marketing – 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and they are more likely to buy because of that (Custom Content Council)
- Social Media – 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions (Salesforce Marketing Cloud)
- Mobile – 41% of smartphone owners have made a purchase from their mobile phones & US m-commerce sales will reach $31 billion by 2015 (Visual.ly infographic)
- Email Marketing - Email generates $39.40 for every dollar spent (DMA).
But of course there are advantages to each. The problem is that they are not universally applicable or true. So you might ask, what is universally true? What thing can we invest in as businesses for the greatest return on marketing spend? In my opinion, it’s this:
The best investment you can make in marketing is the quality and experience of your “product”.
Whether you sell a tangible thing or a service, your “product” provides an experience and consumers are more empowered to share the stories of those experiences now than ever before.
Consistently delivering a great experience amongst a community of customers empowered to create, consume, publish, interact and transact any where, any time inspires the most scalable and powerful “sales force” you could ever hope to advocate for your brand.
Just look at services like Uber that have forgone most traditional advertising and marketing and simply created a service that’s so useful that people are compelled to talk about it. They tell stories about their experience.
“Talking about it” in today’s digital world means creating and sharing content on the social web where a single positive moment can be shared and reach hundreds or thousands of people. Add up hundreds or more of those moments on a daily basis and you can see how those stories can spread.
A big part of what contributes to customer experience with products and services outside of the fact that they “deliver on the promise”, is how stories are discovered, where and how they are consumed and the means by which they are shared and acted on.
Yes, that means beyond creating a fantastic product (fantastic is defined by buyers) where there is some opportunity and necessity to optimize the discovery, consumption and actions taken as a result of those stories. This is the promise most of the marketing channels and tactics I mentioned above make.
The effectiveness of any of those channels depends on the quality of the product experience and the meaningful stories that surround it. That means stories communicated, curated and promoted by the brand as well as the people who experience the product.
While you certainly know intuitively, the value of product or service quality, do you see it as a marketing investment? How does product or service quality and experience factor in to your marketing? What are the key stories about that experience being told through brand and by customers?