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Marketing Delorean: Individualized, integrated, inbound marketing

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Marketing Delorean

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I recently had the opportunity to address the business minds at Mount Saint Mary's University (my alma mater) as a guest speaker. I themed my topic to the MBA 577 class as a "marketing old and new". Jumping in my time capsule I tried to tell a story where I took what I learned in college and applied it to my current methodology for modern day marketing. Here is where the Marketing Delorean took us:

Target Markets = Personas = Generation C

Back in the good old days of marketing research we dwelled on target markets, demographics and geography. We learned that our markets were defined as cold-hearted subjects of our marketing science experiments. Nameless drones who were certain age ranges, had a defined household incomes and had approximately 1.5 children. If we were lucky we delved into where they lived and asked a little about psychographic data — how they felt. 

Personas have largely replaced target markets as the friendlier way to personify a group of potential customers. With cute names such as "Sally Small Business" personas ask the deeper questions - what does Sally do for a living? Where did she go to school? What are her pain points? How can we help her with her pain points? Where does she get her information? What did Sally eat for breakfast? .... Personas put a face with a name and narrow the fishing pond from the 7 seas to the Finger Lakes.

Generation C or Generation Connected will not replace marketing Personas, but it certainly will redefine how marketers discriminate by age. In a world where 40 is the new 30 (or maybe 20?) age is becoming less and less a barrier to entry to the world of digital communications. You either use a cell phone, or you do not. You engage in email or you lick stamps. You gather information online or you wait for the 7 o'clock news. In this brave new world of forever young - you are either part of generation connected or you are disconnected.

Integrated Marketing = Inbound Marketing = Individualized Marketing

Reading "Total Integrated Marketing: Breaking the Bounds of the Function" in college, I distinctly remember the feeling of a light bulb bursting above my head. This is IT - this is what marketing is about! Marketing is everywhere, in everything and isn't just an Ad! I was as excited as a coupon clipper on Black Friday. Simply put, Integrated marketing is the practice of making sure the customer feels that they have one long conversation with the company brand - not several unrelated experiences. Integrated marketing teaches us to drink from the company brand Kool-Aid water cooler by marketing not only externally to our customers but also internally to our own employees (by the way - also your customers). Once on board, we make sure we deliver a consistent experience in concert with our brand messaging that never leaves the customer in a dark alley without a flashlight (i.e. no dead ends). Sounds amazing right? You haven't seen anything until you take it Inbound.

Inbound marketing builds upon the strong foundations of IMC but with a twist. Integrated marketing methodology touches on internal and external communications - but it largely ignores outbound vs. inbound communications. Outbound marketing is what comes to mind at that awkward cocktail party moment when you try to explain what you do "Marketing!" you exclaim! "Ads!" They think. Outbound is shouting for customers though mostly traditional channels - ads, radio, TV, even digital ad buys - these are all shouts out to the great blue yonder for attention. 

Inbound marketing is outbound's savvy, geeky, wallflower sister. Inbound methodology is to create meaningful content and contribute knowledge freely so that when your marketing persona Sally Small Business comes looking for an answer to one of her pain points - your company's content leads her to the right answer - which is of course your services. Inbound is very powerful as it combines the best of the marketing and public relations worlds in a leveraged, measurable way. If you ever asked Google a question, you've participated in the inbound marketing experience.

Individualized Marketing has always been around. In the end it is the marketer's job to put the right breadcrumbs out in the market (be it paid or inbound content driven) to lead customers to the door. Over time scattering those bread crumbs has gotten more and more advanced with technology, new media and new methods of research. Now, not only are we putting forth breadcrumbs for our customers to find, but we getting to the dawn of the individualized bread crumb - ads and experiences individualized for each customer based on information the marketer has about that customer. Sounds like a scene from Minority report? We really aren't that far from making that gap scene reality.

I really didn't realize how far it has come until one of the MSMU students asked how modern marketing worked for common products - her choice? Laundry Detergent. Here is the tangled marketing web, we wove... 

Sam Soccer (persona) has grass stains on the team's jerseys (pain point). Not sure how to get them out and keep the jerseys in tact, he goes to his computer and Googles "removing grass stains from soccer jerseys" (keyword search). In the list he runs across a bunch of sponsored ads (outbound marketing) which he currently ignores and scrolls down to read a few blogs written on the subject (inbound marketing). Several of the blogs mention that Tide is the best detergent to get out grass stains. One of these blogs has a link to the Tide website - which Sam clicks. Tide's website has even more useful information on grass stains including articles and a video on how to spot treat stains. Because Sam is logged into his Google account, Google has logged a cookie for Tide on his computer (a personalized breadcrumb). Just as Sam is about to sign up for Tide's newsletter - his phone rings and he closes the computer.  A day later, those jerseys are really starting to stink! Sam remembers that he looked up the right detergent, but forgot the name. Jumping back on the computer he checks the sports scores first before going back to look up his detergent research. In the sponsored ads on the sports page, thanks to the breadcrumb, a personalized ad from Tide shows about grass stains. Sam clicks on the ad and is taken to landing page to download a coupon (top of funnel inbound marketing), if you give up your personal email of course. Sam signs up. Two more days go by and those jerseys are starting to walk around on their own. Because the coupon sent to Sam's email was digitally encoded, Tide knows the coupon hasn't been redeemed. Tide sends a follow-up message to Sam about the coupon along with helpful tips for stain removal and a list of local retailers that carry Tide (personalized inbound message to move Sam to the middle of the funnel). Sam sees this email and makes a note to stop by the store after work to pick up the detergent. An avid four-square user, Sam check's in to the local coffee shop on his way to the store - and a reminder message is sent to Sam from Tide about his unused coupon and those stain fighting agents available to solve his grass stain jersey woes waiting for him - just next door! Sam goes to the store, checks in, purchases the Tide and battles his soccer jerseys back to sparkly white from grassy green (end of the funnel - customer purchase). Now that Tide knows more about Sam - in what communities he lives, what his social media habits are and so much more - Tide now can personalize every message they send to Sam continuing the customer conversation.

From textbook to text message marketing, things sure have come a long way in the past few years! We wonder - what will our marketing Delorean class look like in another 5 years? Tell us what you think! 

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