Why Experimentation is the Path to Success for Any Business Model
Henry Ford’s quote, “the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing,” holds very true in today’s digital era. It’s defined much of my own life, and career, and as marketers the path we tread will have challenges and mistakes. It’s what strengthens us and forces us to be more agile.
I recently sat down with WWT’s Diane Deverey and ShoreGroup’s Sue Andersen in a discussion about how they’ve evolved their marketing practices in their respective businesses with the pressures of the digital era. One thing that stuck out to me reflecting back on our conversation is that it doesn’t matter what your business model is or who your target customer is, because every company has the ability to control the way they engage with their customers. Here are some topics that we discussed around our various styles of engagement.
Meaningful experiences are key
I know I say this all the time, but embracing customer-centricity, putting insights before instinct, and being willing to push limits with the digital marketing resources available today, will be foundational to success.
We operate in a post-digital world where engagement is king and interpreting how customers want to be engaged with is critical. Customers want to feel more emotionally connected in the buying process, so marketers need to create a dialogue at a more human, more intimate level – through a medium they want.
Analytical insights will only become increasingly helpful as businesses look to absorb behavioral data from customers across multiple engagement channels. And the right technology exists for you and your business needs. WWT, for example, uses Salesforce’s CRM and Marketing Cloud Platforms, and Tableau’s analytics tool to extract digital behavior data and feed them into Salesforce to communicate findings with the sales team. On the other hand, ShoreGroup started out with Cisco Partner Marketing Central’s resources before they invested in Salesforce CRM and Hubspot’s marketing automation platform. Regardless of the types of technology they are using, these insights will be impactful when evaluating what’s working and what’s not at every touchpoint, and what can be improved as you evolve your marketing practices. There are so many options when it comes to what you should add to your tech stack, and I would stress that you should use technology that can help you to work smarter, there is something out there for everyone that can help you reach your business goals on your own timeline.
Blending business motions with scalability in mind
The experience economy has also changed the working relationship between sales, marketing and engineering teams, as Sue noted. For example, both WWT and ShoreGroup brought the engineering team into their processes for creating compelling content for their targeted audiences. This is not only an alignment of focus, but a mutual recognition of the value each can play in driving a better, more personalized buying experience.
ShoreGroup also adjusted their go-to-market plan to reflect an account-based revenue model that engages a little more with sales versus account-based marketing because it made sense for their go-to-market model.
WWT adopted a methodology called ‘agile development’ which points to the method of improving the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability to change in the marketing function. Diane spoke of the impressive results it has already driven – the reason she says, “agile marketing strives for simplicity, releasing things early and often, and iterating based on market reactions.”
Agile marketing employs a set of defining principles for the individual, which is certainly worth consideration:
- Plan for change, the ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage
- Deliver marketing programs often, from every couple of weeks to every two months
- Align closely with the business, sales and development teams
- Learn through the build-measure-learn feedback loop, the primary measure of progress
- Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice
- Simplicity is essential
Agile marketing is something to strive for, but right now there are very few experts. The opportunities are limitless, throw yourself in, experiment, learn and find what works for you.
So, what’s your perspective?