When most people think “marketing,” they typically conjure up images of traditional advertising such as television commercials and print ads. And while these types of advertisements play an important role, they represent just one aspect of marketing – the marketing campaign, which is meant to reach out to consumers and build up clientele. While marketing campaigns are essential for driving brand and product awareness, businesses (companies and agencies alike) also need to focus on providing customers with continuity.
Continuity and How it Challenges the Status Quo
Harvard Business Review recently published an article, titled “6 Reasons Marketing is Moving In-house.” In it, the publication highlights the fact that many companies are shifting away from third-party marketing agencies. Based on a research report from the Society of Digital Agencies, in-house marketing has doubled in the past year (from just 13 percent of companies relying on in-house marketing the previous year, up to 27 percent in the past year). But why is this?
One factor that may be behind this trend is a growing desire to focus on continuity. While a marketing agency can often deliver great customer acquisition results through a marketing campaign, more companies are focusing their attentions on to how to retain those customers once a campaign is over. Continuity is the ability to continue to connect with consumers and keep them engaged and satisfied with your brand. It would seem that many companies feel that they have a better chance of maintaining continuity (and control over their customer interactions) if they keep everything in-house. For brands and organizations, this is good news. For marketing agencies, it has the potential to upend age-old relationships – unless they determine a way to counteract or adapt.
Continuity Means Being There for Your Customers
Continuity is a commitment to maintaining a relationship with customers and potential customers. When done right, it can breed tremendous brand loyalty. But companies need to consider whether or not their marketing departments can handle the challenge of meeting the customers’ needs.
Consider T-Mobile; they are at the top of the customer service rating in the J.D. Powers Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Study again this year. For the 13th time, the company has been honored with this distinction and it is paying off big-time, not only in the acquisition of new customers but in the ability to retain existing customers. And this is a result of T-Mobile placing a priority on continuity. Sure, the loud television commercials help with brand awareness, but the company’s social media presence and commitment to customer service is where they’re making real inroads on their competitors.
It’s important to remember that there are many facets to customer service, and marketing is one of them. Customer service isn’t merely answering telephone calls and responding to complaints. It includes any interaction that a person has with a company, including emails, direct mailings, and social media – all of which fall under the realm of marketing. To ensure that you continue to build relations with consumers, you have to engage regularly with them. Traditional marketing initiatives don’t allow for this type of relationship. To succeed in the future, companies must rethink the ways in which they promote themselves.
Placing a Priority on Continuity: The How-to Guide
There are two primary areas that you should focus on when it comes to continuity: consistency and connection. You need to relay a consistent message and image, and continuously connect with consumers. In some cases, this may mean rethinking the way you run a marketing campaign so that you are focused more on a long-term brand connection as opposed to short-term customer acquisition. Below are some marketing approaches that can help you achieve continuity:
- Create a recognizable logo for your brand or company
- Keep a consistent look across your creative assets (e.g., use a universal font, use the same color palette, always include your logo in branding materials)
- Use clear and concise wording to convey your brand’s message and use it in all aspects of a campaign
- Don’t be afraid to be repetitive – consumers only see a small fraction of what you put out there
- Have a monthly marketing campaign strategy that focuses on continually interacting with the consumer
- Create a social media campaign strategy that actively engages consumers
- Be vocal and present in answering consumer questions, responding to feedback (positive and negative), and rewarding consumer loyalty
Marketing materials can help you achieve continuity through traditional branding initiatives, but it is important that your business actively engage with the marketplace as well. This, ultimately, is what separates a marketing campaign from marketing continuity.
If Continuity is the Future of Marketing, Where Do Agencies Stand?
Research clearly shows that in-house marketing is growing. If you represent an outside marketing agency, the best chances of combatting this trend is to provide clients with the marketing results they desire. Understanding how to translate the short-term success of a marketing campaign into customer retention and continuity is the key to staying relevant. Challenge yourself and your team to create a recognizable and respectable brand, and build upon that success with regular and positive customer interaction.
Of course, on the flip side of the coin, if you work for a brand or company, ask yourself, “Who is the better advocate for my company? An outside party or myself?” If it’s continuity that you seek with your customer-base, you may find that your organization is the best advocate you’re going to find. Start engaging with your customers one-on-one and you may find that it yields real, positive results.