As the year 2020 comes to an end, what could be better than preparing to make 2021 the best year yet? Check out the last in our ‘Countdown to 2021’ series of great marketing tips from our team to help get the new year off to a good start. If you missed the last two posts, check them out here: Digital Marketing Tip Countdown – Day 3 & Digital Marketing Tip Countdown – Day 2
Erik Martinez, Vice President
One of the many lessons that 2020 has taught us is that when business drops precipitously or increases dramatically in a short period of time, our ability to manage the rapid change depends a lot on how effective we are at managing our operations in general and, more specifically our marketing operations. What is marketing operations? I’m talking about the blocking and tackling of getting all of your content (promotions, messaging, photography, videos, articles, social media posts, etc.) produced and delivered to the target customer on a specific platform and making sure that the customer experience is top-notch.
Just think of what you do to prepare for a Black Friday promotion, from preparing the message for the hero images on the home page to the graphics used on the mail campaign, to the copy that goes on a landing page(s), to the video post that goes out on Facebook and Instagram. Think about the links that have to be generated and tracked, the setup of the promotion code(s) on the website, the training with your customer service/sales teams on how the promotion will work, the fine print that the legal team (or person) requires on each ad, working with the inventory team to make sure that you have stock to support the promotion for ecommerce retailers or ensuring that your physical locations have the right signage and printed materials.
There are numerous steps in the process to guarantee that great ideas have the best chance to succeed. The best companies don’t always have the best ideas, but they often execute them better than their competition.
Fulfilling Brand Promises
Take Southwest Airlines as an example. I have been flying Southwest for many years, and because of where I am located in the country, Southwest is my primary choice for business and leisure travel. Even when I have other competitive choices, I choose Southwest because they ALWAYS get me where I’m going. That’s one of their marketing promises. While Southwest isn’t perfect, they have always made flying a breeze for me. When those weather situations arise, or mechanical issues with a plane become an issue, they have never failed at getting me to my intended destination. You can say many things that you don’t like about Southwest…they don’t have first-class, they don’t serve any food, they have a cattle call system of boarding…and many of those things that are said are true, but you can also say that they are RELIABLE and the experience matches their messaging. When I have the opportunity to choose an airline, I choose Southwest because, for me, their reliability and consistency in how they move you around the country is what is important to me. The experience is consistent with the messaging that they put out via email, video advertising, on their website, etc. When I fly some of the other airlines, I don’t get the same experience…I often encounter delays or random cancellations or excuses…and the messaging in their advertising does not align with the actual experience. It’s a real bummer when I purchase that amazing airfare and then encounter problems checking in on the app, or choosing my seats on the website, or realize that I have to pay for overhead bin space and my luggage and for the ability to have a window or an aisle seat when I arrive at the airport. I just don’t have those issues on Southwest.
Take Amazon as another example. Man…they hooked us with Prime. They set incredible expectations on the speed of delivery and the convenience of shopping for goods and services. And then the pandemic hit…and…they are still growing…partially because our expectation of Amazon is allowing us to forgive them for having more business than anyone company should reasonably expect to handle. And partially because their competition is still having difficulty achieving the levels of efficiency and effectiveness that Amazon works hard to achieve every single day. They aren’t perfect…I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon…I LOVE them as a consumer, but I HATE them as a marketer and advertiser. Amazon is really good at what they do…which is…they make buying things easy and efficient for the customer. Many people (not all) are willing to trade an authentic brand experience for the convenience and ease of shopping on Amazon. It sucks for us that have to compete with them, but it’s great for those of us that choose to spend our hard-earned money with them…especially in a pandemic. I just purchased an indoor bicycle because I like to ride and now it’s too cold for me to ride outdoors…I bought it on Amazon…mostly because they had it in stock and they could get it to me within a week while the rest of the retailers I checked did not have it in stock and had no way of telling me when they would have it. I probably would have purchased at a local retailer if I could have done curbside delivery within a 40-minute drive of my home, but nobody had it in stock…put one in the Win column for Amazon.
The Southwest and Amazon examples teach us is that excellence at what you do matters…both in the advertising and the delivery of goods or services. Both of these companies have proved that being exceptional is a differentiator when things go off the rails because customers are more likely to do business with a company they trust to deliver on the promises they make on their websites, in their apps, or via their video ads (both TV and streaming). Amazon and Southwest always deliver, and for the few times that they fail, we are willing to forgive them because we had amazing experiences before.
My Tip for 2021
In 2021 take stock of your marketing operations…create an eco-system and workflow that allows your company’s great ideas to outshine the competition not only because the idea is great, but also because you and your team(s) are excellent at getting those ideas in front of your target audience and your company follows through with an outstanding experience. Happy New Year!