CONNECTIONS lie at the heart of marketing - bringing together customers and business, strategy and delivery, brands and relationships, loyalty and growth.
In a world being revolutionised by connectivity - networks and speed, knowledge and interactivity - marketing should be at the forefront of new ways of thinking, new business models, and more inspiring approaches to business.
Yet marketing too often has a heads-down, sales-driven obsession for short-term results. We keep pushing harder, with the same old techniques, at increasingly resistant audiences, and with ever diminishing returns.
Marketers need a more heads-up approach - to see things differently, and think different things. Some companies are obsessed with existing customers and competitors, and fighting for points of market share, when the real world is changing rapidly around them.
So, here are 10 opportunities for marketers to engage differently with customers, catalyse more radical innovation, and drive more profitable growth:
1. Insights into individuality
Stop creating average solutions for average people. Dive deeper to understand and what makes people tick, spend more time understanding the ideas and aspirations of different customers.
2. Riding with the niche
Focus on the best niches -youth, women, boomers, ethnic, green, heritage, east - choose your audience, be relevant and distinctive, and truly special for them.
3. Seeing the bigger picture
Redraw your boundaries, developing a market strategy (not a marketing strategy) to consider adjacent spaces, and redefine your competitive context through customer eyes (typically bigger and richer).
4. Power to the customer
Supply exceeds demand and, therefore, customers call the shots. Start doing business on their terms - where when and how they want - and steer away from mass campaigns, cost-plus pricing and generic solutions.
5. Use technology
Get out your sonic screwdriver, turn on Google Earth, and start engaging customers where and when it matters most to them - from GPS and RFID, to Bluetooth and smart phones, the technology is all there.
6. Real brand affinities
People trust and engage with fewer brands, the ones that mean most to them. New collaborations across sectors those that focus on personal interests will be much more compelling.
7. Doing the right thing
If marketing is the less-than-positive force of consumerism, encouraging us to live beyond our natural means, then innovation is the best way to encourage people to address environmental and ethical challenges in mutually beneficial ways.
8. Making networks work
From Facebook to Fedex, we must learn to work with the incredible power of virtual and physical networks, finding ways to work alongside user-driven communities, content and control.
9. Connecting people
Stop trying to force people to love you, when in fact they'd prefer to engage with other people like themselves.
10. The value engines
Brands, ideas and relationships are the most valuable business assets, the keys to future profits and growth. Marketers are the guardians of these assets, bringing new power, influence and responsibility.
Marketing, as the connection between customers and business, is the most powerful force in business today. The simple idea, "the customer is the boss", can still revolutionise organisations and performance.
Marketing typically drives three times more economic value than anything else, and there has never been a more important or exciting time to be a marketer.