In search of the 21st century marketer

Mark Van Clieaf is managing director of MVC Associates International, an executive search firm with offices in Toronto and Houston. He may be reached at (416) 489-1917.Could you recognize a 21st century marketer if you saw one?What skills are becoming critical...

Mark Van Clieaf is managing director of MVC Associates International, an executive search firm with offices in Toronto and Houston. He may be reached at (416) 489-1917.

Could you recognize a 21st century marketer if you saw one?

What skills are becoming critical to effectively market to value-conscious consumers?

How are new technologies changing the marketer’s tool kit and the knowledge s/he needs to use the right tools?

There is an emerging trend as leading-edge, customer-driven organizations seek a new marketing skill set.

Organizations in such arenas as banking, insurance, retail packaged goods, hotels, airlines, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, toys, and even such mass market products as beer and tobacco are all demanding a 21st-century marketer.

The most important concept this new breed of marketer uses is the lifetime value of a customer.

It is the potential revenue stream and profit margin over time by customer segment that indicates of how much you are prepared to spend to acquire and retain customers in each segment.

In the new marketing battleground, the winners will create effective marketing programs that surprise and delight the customer and build customer loyalty.

The new marketer demonstrates a shift in marketing mindset away from strictly brand equity. Building customer loyalty to an overall category or organization is also required and transcends brand equity to relationship equity.

President’s Choice from Loblaws has relationship equity – Procter & Gamble does not.

The new marketer is focussed on segment profitability, not market share.

Where the marketer of the past was focussed on marketing to the averages, the 21st-century marketer is focussed on marketing to the differences and customer expectations by specific segment.

The new marketer has extensive consumer research skills.

Understanding the emotional and attitudinal drivers that motivate individual consumers is required to develop razor-sharp communications to provoke a response, build sales and customer loyalty.

These marketers effectively use focus groups, telephone interviews, one-on-one interviews, usage and attitude studies and other techniques to uncover the underlying drivers of consumer behavior.

This enables them to segment the market with precision and develop creative that has impact.

Marketers of the 21st century are part-technologist.

They understand what information needs to be captured to build a powerful consumer database for future marketing and niche segmentation.

Essential for the new marketer is a working understanding of systems design and database development – how to capture this consumer data, how much, how to store it and how to get access to it for use in effective segmentation.

Strong analytical skills are key to identify emerging consumer patterns in an age in which we are overwhelmed by data about the consumer.

Skillful in segmentation

As a new age information navigator, the 21st century marketer is skillful in niche consumer segmentation based on demographics, psychographics, consumer product usage patterns, and how these dimensions correlate and impact the allocation of scarce marketing resources.

The new marketer understands how linking of life events (such as high school, college, university graduation, marriage, first house, first child, major change in job) to product usage provides the basis for targetting and offering products that are on the consumer’s agenda.

The life cycle of the consumer is now more important than the life cycle of the product.

The use of predictive modelling techniques to identify patterns and trends in consumer data and product usage, with the aim of identifying specific profitable niche segments, provides a rifle approach to marketing that generates a measurable impact on sales and profits.

The new marketer exhibits a holistic approach to integrating promotion and marketing communications into the marketing strategy.

A marketing strategy can be aimed at heavy users and best customers, or heavy users and second-best customers, or new customers.

Each requires the use of different marketing communications and promotional tactics.

Apply mass advertising

The new marketer understands how to best apply mass advertising with inbound telemarketing, interactive media, infomercials, outbound telemarketing, or direct mail with selective insertion, variable imaging and laser technology, depending on the strategy for consumer acquisition, usage or retention.

The new marketers are increasingly using inbound and outbound telemarketing as part of their tool kit. Pure awareness as we knew it in the 1970s and ’80s continues to fall by the wayside.

The use of mass advertising that incorporates a 1-800 number and provides direct consumer contact continues to grow.

Testing scripts for call centres and finetuning the training requirements for customer service and fulfillment are all new marketing tools to get closer to the customer.

Real-time information

The new marketer is driving towards using database technology to provide the customer service representative with real-time customer information about previous customer contact, product usage patterns, and propensity to purchase in creating the basis for building a customer relationship around each ‘customer moment of truth.’

In a world of rapid change and increasing complexity, consumers are looking to have their lives simplified.

These same consumers want to feel they are a member of a unique group with similar attitudes and values, and that products being offered are timely and relevant to their lifestyle.

The 21st-century marketer is positioned to meet these needs.

In an age of genetic engineering, creating the 21s-century marketer is easy.

Start with one-part packaged goods marketer with strong consumer research and brand positioning skills; add one-part technologist for database development, predictive modelling and niche consumer segmentation; plus one-part promotional guru to create offers that drive a change in the consumer’s buying habits, and, finally, add the marketing communications skills of the direct marketer to deliver the right offer to the right consumer at the right time.