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You Can’t Fillet a Fish with a Sushi Mat

Tom HutchisonApril 05, 2019

Somehow, and I’m not sure how this has happened, I’ve managed to acquire a dizzying array of kitchen appliances. I have a food processor that can render a bushel of vegetables into bit-sized chunks in seconds. There’s a sandwich maker that converts bread, meat and cheese into adorable little triangles of goodness. My blender rotates so fast that I hold it down because I’m afraid it will take flight. Everything I need to make breakfast – a countertop grill, a coffee press and a waffle maker – sits in a special section of the pantry. I love them all, and I use them all, but not all the time. It’s similar to the way I feel about marketing tactics.

We have a tremendous number of communication methods and formats we assemble into marketing strategies. Every day I read about insightful, innovative techniques for content marketing, E-mail marketing, social media engagement, online display advertising, mobile marketing, social media and even direct mail. Proponents extoll the virtues of each channel or propose new use cases that make them more relevant than ever. Just like my kitchen gadgets, I love each of these tactics. They’re all important. They’re all essential for creating an effective strategy, but I don’t use them all the time.

It’s helpful to think about your marketing strategy in context to understand when each of these tactics is useful. For me, the most useful perspective is the customer lifecycle. There’s nothing really new here. Marketers have been using customer lifecycles for a long time, though they come in and out of fashion as experts try to carve out unique niches in the marketplace. And, like anything that has existed for a long time, there are many variations.

The model I prefer organizes the customer lifecycle into two domains – customer acquisition and customer retention – and seven phases: brand, prospect, conquest, leads, customer, loyalty and win back marketing.

Customer acquisition is the array of tactics used to engage people who aren’t customers in an attempt to create new relationships.

  • Prospect marketing – Engaging people who don’t buy your products or services
  • Conquest marketing – Engaging people who don’t buy your products or services, but they do buy similar offerings from your competitors
  • Leads marketing – Engaging people who have expressed interest or purchase intent

Customer retention is the set of tactics used to engage customers in an effort to broaden those relationships.

  • Customer marketing – Engaging customers to foster repurchases or the purchase of other products and services that you offer
  • Loyalty marketing – Engaging customers with extra benefits and rewards to promote ongoing purchases and use of your products and services
  • Win Back marketing – Engaging customers who are inactive or who have defected to competitors to rekindle your relationship with them

You support these marketing efforts with general communications about your company and your products. Brand tactics rarely include a specific offer, and unlike the other phases, they don’t target specific individuals. Instead, they present one or more broad messages that may appeal to specific segments of the marketplace. Both customers and potential customers receive messages tailored to their general interests.

  • Brand marketing – Engaging consumers with information about your company and its products and services

So, when you look through the lens of the customer lifecycle, you see there is a time and intent for different kinds of marketing efforts. Content marketing is great for creating new leads and helping customers use their purchases, but conquest targets may not seek out that information. E-mail marketing feels intrusive to prospects, but it’s absolutely essential for promoting loyalty. Online display ads are one of the best ways to promote a brand message, but limitations for targeting specific individuals make them less effective for customer and loyalty engagement.

I want to use all of my kitchen gadgets, but it’s important that I use them in the right way. After all you, can’t fillet a fish with a sushi mat. Similarly, I want you to use all of your marketing tactics but in a way that makes sense for the context of the customer lifecycle. Otherwise your marketing performance or your next meal may leave something to be desired.

Looking for help assembling the right data foundation in place to support all your marketing tactics? Visit our Omnichannel Audience Solutions webpage.