Midsize firms often adopt newer technologies faster and change strategic direction more agilely than larger enterprises. Both of these actions can provide competitive edge over the increasingly commoditized worlds of their larger competitors. Fast and agile strategies are also needed to respond to the ever-changing nature of customers. Customers are more proactive about their purchases, which calls for right-time brand experiences, often over multiple channels. Marketers now must be dynamically responsive to change and must more quickly decide what to do.
To provide a unique brand experience for individual customers, companies and their marketers have to target real people and their desires of the moment, not statistics or generalities. Adaptive marketing, a new version of direct marketing in today's digital era, is a promising approach for crafting such individual brand experiences. Companies become customer-focused organizations that are committed to constantly re-crafting product offerings, sales initiatives and marketing tactics to match individual customer needs and wants.
Marketing technologies and processes have to be transformed to meet the fluid requirements of being "always on". Media and agency relationships have to evolve to handle constant change. Digital asset management has new importance as a management piece for customer-responsive images, marketing calls-to-action, and other personalized and time-sensitive content.
Customer intelligence drives adaptive marketing processes, and ultimately the goal of continuously individualized brand experiences. Right-time analytics are invaluable to all marketing solutions, constantly reflecting changes in customer behavior and market trends. Analytics help unlock the essence of social and customer interactions: synchronizing the organization with customers, their interactions and their communications related to the organization and its products.
Data is now strategic, and data management initiatives must ensure accurate and timely data for fast-moving adaptive marketing. The data and analytics that support adaptive marketing initiatives are also key tools for the midsize enterprise anyway: intelligence to better serve customers, develop the right products, and discover new opportunities and markets. This is where competitive advantage emerges from how well a company tracks and measures customer behavior and interactions that will help them understand and interact with customers on an individual level.
Companies will never "own" the customer or the customer experience, but they can proactively provide and nurture the right brand moments that can attract and influence the customer to make purchase decisions. The best outcome for adaptive marketing is when the company meets customers on their terms, and crafts a positive brand experience every time. The best outcome for the customer beyond quality brand experiences is the value received in every interaction and purchase journey.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts both software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective