I recently read an article posted by Adobe, and this was the leading hook, “Imagine a world where everything is connected and anything can be known. Where clothing gathers customer data, refrigerators do the shopping, and companies tap into consumers’ subconscious thoughts. This is the future of marketing. And it’s already happening.” Innovative technology is affecting everything we do. And it’s all driven by the changing needs of the customer. Customers are demanding different ways of engagement – and the younger generations are even more unique.

Predictions that future generations would only know how to interact with people from behind their screens and be disinterested in engaging in real human connections and experiences were all the buzz in the media and conversations. Yet, here we are today. Engaging with people from behind the screen has not replaced the value of real human connections, in fact, it’s made us hungrier for them.

Another article published by McKinsey & Company, states that millennials are now the largest spending group, and have a vastly different consumer spending behavior compared to gen Xers and baby boomers. Milennials believe that experiences are king – they lead to happiness and greatly outweigh the importance of goods or services.

The same is true in the world of marketing. While digital is key, experiential engagement is crucial both online and in the real world. Vendors need to up-level the engagement journey to an experience journey. While there’s a rise in demand for deeper experiential engagements rather than short-term ones, each customer will need customized experiences. The ability to feel that intimacy online and in-person is important for marketing campaigns to be successful.

So what’s next? Learning is key, and the first steps in the transition starts with your own teams.

Learning about the customer

Last summer, Salesforce released its fourth annual State of Marketing Research report which showed that 65% of business buyers will likely switch vendors if the current vendor doesn’t customize communications to their company. Another 89% expect vendors to understand and anticipate their business needs.

This is why in my last blog, I emphasized the growing importance of data-driven strategies for marketing teams to help them constantly learn about their customers for every step of the customer journey. The challenge will be creating a single pane of glass across all customers’ individual data while that data is pulled from various sources and used differently across different channels.

Integration won’t happen overnight, but the collaboration between teams will help enable businesses to take more holistic approaches towards each customer. Augmenting existing marketing, sales and analytics roles to align them with your campaign goals before investing in new people or technologies is also recommended.

Don’t forget to lead with “purpose”

While tailoring the roles of your teams and technologies can accelerate the transition towards an experience-driven marketing strategy, a shared purpose in the workplace around delivering memorable customer experiences will be the glue that holds everything together. A common purpose can minimize silos between departments, and simplify the customer learning process by helping individuals and teams anticipate one another’s needs and understand which customer insights will be useful to the other party as they exchange intel.

Start with your own team. Create a culture that believes in a tailored customer experience, not just at the workplace, but in your network or ecosystem. We can get fun and creative, but here are a couple basic ideas to start:

  • Encourage everyone on your team to view one another as a customer in an effort to learn and understand them
  • Encourage your team to view and treat partners, suppliers and other peers, as customers. This is important because the experiences your company gives them can impact how they represent your company’s story and personality when engaging with customers
  • Be mindful of the lifecycle of a customer experience. A customer’s experience doesn’t just start/stop at an online training or live event, that is only one-stop along the journey. Think about how you can personalize and engage across the entire journey, whether digitally or face-to-face.

These are learning activities that fuel human connections and new perspectives that will inspire your teams and peers when crafting and delivering the best experiences to each customer. The time is now, let’s embrace the post-digital world.