Redefining The Customer Journey

Management Consultant and author Peter Drucker once wrote that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.” This may seem to be an obvious statement, but many companies traditionally focus on the first half of that statement to the detriment of the latter part. It could be argued that keeping a customer is more important than finding a new one – for a repeat customer is often an engaged customer.

As OpenText CEO & CTO Mark J. Barrenechea points out in his book, On Digital, the digital world helps you by giving you more ways to know your customer better. “Know Your Customer isn’t just a regulatory obligation, it’s a key competitive differentiator. The best way to satisfy your customer is to truly understand them. You can do this by mapping your customer journeys.”

But customer journeys are changing. The old traditional models of a singular pre-determined linear path or funnel from awareness to purchase no longer apply in a digital world where flowcharts have given way to multiple interactions at whatever point the customer wants it to be. The customer is not only driving the decision on when and how interactions are made, they are also demanding a more personalized experience.

In a recent article, CMSWire columnist John Zimmerman outlined a vision of a digital experience platform that delivers “individualized content presentation for each customer interaction.”  To achieve this vision, organizations need a better way of engaging with the customer. This requires an enhanced understanding of the customer’s journey, one that is an infinite engagement rather than a linear process.

cutomerjourney

The process can be viewed from two different perspectives:

The Customer’s Perspective is one of a continuous experience where they BUY, then OWN (or use) a product (or service) throughout its lifecycle before repurchasing.

The Enterprise Perspective is one of a continuous process where they ACQUIRE and then SERVE a customer to lead to a level of engagement where they will acquire additional revenue from that same customer and/or more customers “through recommendation”.

The full engaged customer journey cannot be addressed by separate applications at different parts of the process. To be fully effective, it has to provide an exceptional continuous experience made up of a combination of many different experiences, processes and systems that all have to interact.

These different aspects of the journey can be grouped into five separate, but interdependent, layers:

  1. The customer’s activity,
  2. The company’s activity,
  3. The departments involved,
  4. The related business process,
  5. The associated metrics used to measure and manage the engagement.

I’ll be examining each of these layers in more detail in upcoming blog posts.

[Note: This post originally appeared on the OpenText blog.]

Be Arnold – Not Mary-Kate

“Why be Mary-Kate and Ashley when we can be the Arnold to the rest of the industry’s Danny DeVito?”

It may sound like a strange conversation, but it’s one I’ve had several times at different points in my career; usually when I’ve been at a small to medium sized, or spin-off start-up, software company. The underlying conundrum behind the question was “How do we differentiate ourselves?”

Nearly every business, to a greater or lesser extent, is akin to a commodity driven business these days. There are very few disruptive companies whose success is solely due to the fact that they are the only one doing something. Everybody has a competitor, or two, or lots; all doing essentially the same thing you are, especially when you are playing in a global marketplace.

If someone tells you what line of business they are in, and you answer “Me too,” then you are now a commodity. If you don’t differentiate yourself trough the unique value you bring to you customers you become an Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen. A product that can be swapped out with one that does basically the same thing and no-one really notices the difference.

008_OslenTwins

So how do you differentiate your value?

With CONTENT

Content can make you stand out like Arnold Schwarzenegger towering over Danny DeVito in the movie Twins.

Look at what makes your company and products special, how do you solve your customers problems in the way that provides them the most value? Find the perspective that only you can provide; look to your company’s own experts, and your customers too. If you can find a niche where you can provide the most informative, engaging, and useful information, then plan to become the industry’s leading expert in that space.

With the right content and the right approach you can position yourself to tower over others who may think they are just like you. Remember – Be Arnold, not Mary-Kate.

008_Twins

This Song ISN’T About You

“Marketing is about TELLING the world you are a rock star; Content Marketing is about SHOWING the world you are.”

The above is a quote from my friend Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute and it’s easily the most repeated phrase I use when introducing the concepts of Content Marketing – In fact I like that quote so much that I had a slide made up and with it on and have it hanging in my office.

RockQuote

It appeals to me on several levels, not least of which is that I’m a rock music fan and occasional historian with a particular interest in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll.

Robert’s right in that traditional advertising and marketing has been about putting on a glitzy show, in the hope that our potential customers will notice us. We have built a whole industry and profession around shouting “Look at me!” – We’ve been singing songs that have been about us.

When everyone is singing the same song to different tunes it becomes a cacophony, and the louder they sing it becomes a raucous din in which everyone’s message is lost.

The only way for you as marketers to cut through that noise is to stop singing about yourselves. It’s time to start singing about the things that help our customers achieve their dreams.

I developed a Mission Statement for how we want to deliver marketing content at Caterpillar that hangs on my office wall right next to Robert’s quote, it reads:

We will provide ENGAGING, RELEVANT, ACTIONABLE content that provides VALUE to our customers, enabling them to be successful in reaching their business goals.

Our aim is to make sure that the song we are singing shows our customers that we understand their business goals and needs.

Tracy Island Blindfold – Finding Your Place on the Content Marketing Maturity Model.

I never played Pin The Tail On The Donkey at birthday parties when I was a kid. But there’s no need to feel sorry for me, because we played a much better version of the game – we played Tracy Island.  TracyIsland

Tracy Island, of course, being the secret island headquarters of International Rescue, the team at the center of the classic Thunderbirds TV show. It was Thunderbirds, and its companion shows, that sparked my interest in machines – in fact seeing some of the amazing machines we produce at Caterpillar makes me sometimes feel like I’m walking into the Thunderbirds set. So back to Tracy Island and boyhood birthday parties; instead of the paper drawing of a donkey we would paste up a map of Tracy Island and the goal for the blindfolded child was to see if they could find the secret launch pad of one of the International Rescue vehicles. This meant that instead of one place to aim for there were three.

The more I thought about how would you position yourself on the Content Marketing Maturity Map I presented in my last post, the more I realized that there was no single point on the map that would adequately convey a company’s place on the Content Marketing journey.

The truth is that you probably span a range of points across the model. If you take the manufacturing industry as a whole, which is where I spend my time these days, it is an industry that is traditionally focused on the features and functions of a product – and I’m sure every company would think of themselves as a thought leader, yet most of the product content online is SEO driven rather than value message driven. What value messaging there is tends to be at the Brand level rather than at the customer evangelist.

So the map for a traditional manufacturing company may look something like this:

ManufacturingCMMM

On the other hand, the software industry, where I spent half my career to date, is less about the brand (Apple being the obvious exception) and more about the value of the solution to the customer than the product features. Therefore the map for a software company may look something like this:

SoftwareCMMM

There is no one size fits all methodology for finding your place on your journey, you have to take an honest look at different aspects of your business and how you use content in the related marketing efforts.

But even if you find yourself all over the island, then like the craft of International Rescue on their way to an incident, you should all be pointed in the same direction and getting there as fast as you can.

“Are We There Yet?” – Developing a Content Marketing Maturity Model

“It’s just around the corner.” – When I was a youngster travelling the highways and byways of the British road system in the back of my parents’ car that was my father’s stock answer to the toddler’s favorite lament of “Are we there yet?” – The thing was he never specified exactly which corner he was talking about. It kept me quiet for a while until I realized that we had been around several more corners since I last asked and we still hadn’t arrived at our destination. It didn’t take me long to learn that as much as I loved travelling as a kid, and still do, that not having context for where we were on those journeys drove me crazy. I still eschew the inflight movie choices on the seat back screens when flying long distances in favor of the moving map display. I like to know where I am.

The same could be said of developing a Content Marketing Strategy, I like to know where I am on the journey.

The obvious answer for knowing where you are is to have a map; something that helps you connect the start and end points.

When you are working on the tactical implementations of content creation, management, and distribution those maps are your editorial calendars, and project plans – But what about at a higher level? How do you know where you are in the development and execution of your overall strategy? Do you have something that will guide you and your team to stay on the right path?

The best answer is to measure yourself against your goals and the steps it takes to get there. Just how mature is your current process when measured against your overall vision? For this you need to develop a maturity model.

The best way to start is to seek out some existing maturity models and see if they align with your journey. A quick Google search brings back over a million hits on the term “content marketing maturity model,” that’s a lot to choose from.

One of my personal models is the one developed by Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute and referenced in Joe Pulizzi’s excellent book “Epic Content Marketing.” It’s an excellent starting point, but I found it missing something when aligning it to business goals.

On the other hand the model developed by Top Rank OnLine Marketing , which I also like, is maybe a bit too linear and business focused to the detriment of the broader vision.

So in the best traditions of hip-hop artists everywhere (of which I am most certainly not one), I created a mash-up of the two models; making a few changes here and there, putting a slightly different spin on some items.

Below is my version of a Content Marketing Maturity Model that I believe covers most needs and will help you map out your content marketing journey.

Content Marketing Maturity Model

In the next post I’ll dig deeper into how you decide where you are on that journey, and figure out where to place the “You Are Here” pin on the model.

A Single Word Can Say So Much

This video has been around for a while now, I think it was first posted early in 2013, and I’ve watched it several times, enjoying it as a nice piece of humorous advertising that plays to our obsession with technology and gadgets. – In short it’s a fun piece.

But today a friend of mine referenced it from another perspective, one that made me look at it with new eyes.

It’s not only a witty piece of advertising, it’s a great piece of content marketing that works for a global audience.

It’s message is universal, it works across many cultural boundaries by playing on shared human experiences (and needs!), and by only using a single word, a name, it also crosses language barriers.

Why over-complicate your message, when with a bit of thought and ingenuity, so much can be said to so many with but a single word and some well thought out images telling a basic human story.