Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's the Future of Marketing?

The future of marketing will be based on building authentic customer relationships more than the development of new products. And, customers will continue to gain control of the relationship... molding it and driving it forward, or ceasing it altogether. Online chats, blogs, and Internet-based social communities increasingly put control of the brand image into the hands of customers. On the customer service side, one bad experience can have a huge impact on a company's reputation since customers share their stories.

Marketers have already begun to focus less on gaining short-term advantage and more on working to win and maintain customer trust. Historically, the goals of marketing was to promote sales. This shift in mindset suggests that marketers are more fully recognizing that a message can't influence customer behavior if the message isn't trusted. So, the future looks bright with significant improvement in the ability of organizations to capture and share information, understand customer needs, calculate customer lifetime value, improve the customer experience, and provide customers with relevant messaging in their preferred channel.

The future isn't completely bright, however. Most marketers agree that there are "clouds on the one-to-one horizon" such as governmental regulations that impact privacy, the deluge of solicitations and messaging across so many channels, and the fact that customers' attention spans are in short supply and under increasing pressure.

So, how do you do make a solid one-to-one strategy work? The first step is putting one-to-one marketing into the day-to-day operation of the organization to improve the customer experience. Even on the campaign level, a little customer focus goes a long way.

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