I took over as CEO at Kahuna, a consumer marketing technology provider, a little over a year ago. And as I reflect on scores of customer conversations in 2017, the single most striking finding after engaging with the most iconic marketers of our times is unequivocally this:
They have an acute need for speed. They act and react much much faster than anyone else.
This could be across many dimensions: it could be to delight the consumer, to respond to a sharp turn in strategic direction, to capitalize on a change in a competitor's pricing or product mix, or to rapidly draw down inventory fast to get it off the books. The iconic marketer is supremely capable of giving his CEO the confidence that she can spot and get ahead of every opportunity that comes from a change in the consumer's psyche. And as a result, iconic marketers create legendary brands that are emerging not just as participants but as category winners. Today we're seeing the likes of Dollar Shave Club, Restorando, and TickPick emerge. Every one of these are elbowing their way into a crowded market...and are grabbing market share with two hands.
These are the five things that iconic marketers do: 1. Iconic marketers obsess about the extremely hard questions that enable their company to out-maneuver the competition
Questions such as who to target, when in her journey to engage, how to best convert, whether engaging helps or hurts her propensity to convert, who might churn, which dormant users to wake up, and the like. They don't think marketing automation. Rather, they think market domination. 2. Iconic marketers work off of live consumer signals, not just past data.
It's trendy for marketers to claim that they are data-driven. And it's a safe answer because it's backwards-looking. But the iconic marketer isn't looking to do the bare minimum. She is set up to look at not just historical data but also to glean and react to customer preferences in the present and the now. She gathers customer gestures in real-time and she leverages machine learning to move from segments and cohorts to understanding each consumer as an audience of one. She is driven to achieve extreme personalization with every one of her consumers.
3. Iconic marketers are maniacal about surgical strikes.
No batch and blast here. He is wired to orchestrate and react with only the right message, at the right time, and on the right device. A/B testing be damned, he tests A/N messages and channels and timing within seconds. And he always gets it right.
4. Perhaps most important, the iconic marketer has genuine, deeply rooted respect for the pace at which you and I as consumers want to traverse the journey.
One key element of this is to not get channel-happy. To the iconic marketer, every shiny new marketing channel is just that. A channel. It's not a revolution. SMS was so yesterday, Mobile is still hot, AR/VR and voice will certainly be tomorrow. But to her, every new spurt in engagement channel innovation needs to be folded into a much broader cross-channel engagement tapestry if she is to genuinely engage every consumer on his or her terms.
5. The iconic marketer drives the demand and supply chain: And finally, the iconic marketer doesn't report data to the CEO.
She employs technology that helps set the direction for which consumer the company should target, new demographics that are most lucrative to attract, and just as important, the right product mix that will move through the value chain the fastest and at the best margins.
Modern brands in local markets all over the world are elbowing in on the 800-pound gorillas-if they sell stuff, that's Amazon. If not, it's the Amazon of your industry. And the results aren't derivative. They are direct and astoundingly tangible. Some tangible customer examples:
Restorando is taking on Yelp and saw a whopping 54 percent increase in goal conversions when using AI to get hyper-personalized in their communications with customers
TickPick is making a place for itself in a world dominated by Ticketmaster and StubHub. They move super fast. As a result, they have seen a 29 percent increase in conversion campaign revenue by focusing on making its app a go-to destination for all-things events instead of just a "one & done" ticketing-buying resource
And Dollar Shave Club has 1 billion proof points to show how modern iconic marketing can elbow its way into the most deeply entrenched markets.
This approach to marketing isn't for the faint of heart but for the first time it's also more approachable than ever. Rather than requiring a big rip and replace of your favorite email system or marketing automation stack, the technology that brings this level of speed and agility can plug right into your resident marketing stack. The apple cart can stay intact.
The iconic marketer knows that the ability to adapt fast is far more important than the ability to cement, today. Because you and me, the consumer, can be nimble and can adapt to the best marketer within minutes, not days or months. So she must optimize every single facet of 1:1 consumer engagement - that's message testing in real-time, employing the right channel, with the right offer, at the right time and only on the right device.
To every marketer looking to raise his or her game in 2018, this is the blueprint for the iconic version of yourself.
Sameer Patel is CEO at Kahuna, an AI-based marketing personalization technology provider used by iconic digital commerce brands and marketplaces to engage with every consumer as an audience of one. Sameer is @sameerpatel on Twitter.