Henry Ford once famously remarked that if he’d asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said “a faster horse.” Had you asked B2B marketers a decade ago what they needed to market more successfully, their response might have tread the same path: more data, more information—faster and better.
Well, marketers, your faster horses have arrived.
The problem now is not lack of data but unmanageable data. Marketers are juggling interactions on multiple platforms with audiences: new customers, current customers, prospects, media, and competitors—all following on Twitter, subscribing to an email list, or getting content via Facebook or an online community. That has led to a lot of data, and some interesting questions:
- Should I spend more on content or PR? Where is the line?
- Do we need marketers? Or do we need community managers?
- What’s more effective, a press release or a tweet?
- In 2014, which is more important: media relations or community management?
The answer is to follow the audience, understand their behavior, watch what generates the right kind of actions and do more of it. This is now an exercise of understanding what data to pay attention to and what to ignore.
Why you need a new media plan
By creating measurable content experiences that revolve around information, engagement, and entertainment, marketers can move beyond what they have traditionally done, which has been to blast out attributes and benefit, to creating different types of content for different audiences and measuring who consumes what.
This is a simple statement but any experienced content marketer will know how difficult and necessary it is to triangulate on digital habits and information needs.
How do you know what content will actually drive action? By using all that data to build and apply digital communications frameworks, a combination of digital habits, information needs, and an understanding of digital culture, and digital customer narratives are invaluable tools in focusing activity, budget and insight.
Welcome to the new media plan, a blueprint for where and how customers are engaged and taking action, not just talking.
The digital customer narrative is a ways out though many are working to map out the entire customer lifecycle. The complete story of a customer’s interactions with brand or corporate properties online and how they unfold: where they originate, what digital properties they engage in, what content they engage in, and what they do and when is considered something of a Rosetta Stone. Few marketers are using or can create these yet due to data silos, but as those silos collapse ability increases to understand and plan more accurately than ever, so accurately that the conversation starts to shift to privacy. The faster horses are here, and they are hungry.
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