Every few years, there are new buzzwords that begin to circulate the marketing industry. These words encourage companies to think differently about how they go to market. The goal is usually to make marketing more relevant and effective. Currently, there are two buzzwords that come to mind. The first is ‘Inbound Marketing’. This is the idea of using relevant content to attract new customers. Another is ‘Account Based Marketing’. This approach focuses on a set of targeted accounts and their associates.
There’s another phenomenon brewing that aims to solve issues that marketers face today. These issues include the inundation of data and technologies as well as fragmented messaging to customers and prospects. This revolutionary movement is called ‘Open Marketing’. The concept seeks to remove barriers and enable synergies between people, content and technologies to create better experiences for users.
What does “Open Marketing” really mean?
The term Open implies the opposite of closed. Closed people are those who do not share information with others. They don’t give or take help from others, ultimately keeping things to themselves. Closed systems are those that do not share its outputs with other systems. Data captured in these systems are hard to extract and marry with other data sources. Open embodies the ideas of sharing and transparency. The key principles are:
- Interoperability: Interoperability refers to enabling people, processes and tools to work together effectively. Though people have different skills, roles and objectives, enabling sharing and openness is the goal. Though the organization may use many different systems, they must work well together.
- Full Access: This is as much a technological principle as it is an attitudinal requirement for employees. To build something that is greater than the sum of the individual parts, all participants must not hold back things but instead provide full access to their ideas and information.
- Flexibility: As organizations grow, finding the right balance between standardization and autonomy of different teams and business units becomes a challenge. Having people with a flexible mindset as well as technology that can support this is a key tenet of being open.
- Integrations: In today’s connected world finding ways to build connections with employees and customers is the key to building a successful business. In order to truly understand your customers, you need one holistic view of them, you need to bring everything you know about them into one view. Systems need to enable this, humans need to leverage this.
- Communities: Thousands of years ago, people chose to live in communities because of the various skills that people brought to the table. Leveraging the collective knowledge of others on the team or other marketers or other users of the system, is key to leveraging the open concept. Not only is it important to take and learn from the community but it is also critical to give back.
Apple IOS vs Android
If you’re still not convinced why open is better than closed, let’s use an example – Apple IoS vs Google Android. Keep in mind that Android is an open source platform and while open source is just a type of open architecture it embodies the core principles of Open – interoperability, access, flexibility, integrations and communities.
Apple is the quintessential example of being closed – hardware, software and people. Though Apple is one of the greatest companies ever built, competing against an open platform is just not an easy task. There are three key advantages Open gives Android – the first is speed of innovation. There are a significantly larger number of developers working on the Android platform than on the IoS one which leads to a higher number of Apps being created. Second, an Android app can be used across multiple devices – the Pixel, the Samsung and so much more while the IoS apps are limited to iPhones. Lastly the Android environment is more cost effective. The sole goal in an open environment is not to make money, but to get benefit from and give back to the community. This enables prices to be a little lower. The result – The Android platform now has 87.6% of the global market share of the smartphone market. (Source: http://www.idc.com/prodserv/smartphone-os-market-share.jsp)
Why does this matter for a marketer?
The expectations that businesses and consumers have from marketing communications have changed. Because of the advances in technology and data availability, mass personalization is the new norm. Marketing teams are expected to leverage all the information that is available to send relevant communications. Think about how Amazon recommends things based on your past purchases, sometimes recommending things you don’t even know you need. What if they also knew what your hobbies and interests were from Facebook or if they knew you had an upcoming trip that you purchased on Expedia, would their recommendations be even better? If ‘Open’ becomes the new standard, such things will be possible. But beyond the technology what really matters is how marketing teams can build trust with their audience, making people feel like they understand them and ultimately build lasting connections. This is where marketers who embody the principles of Open in their people, processes and technologies – have an advantage over those who do not.
How do you get ahead of this trend as a marketer?
- Start with your objective: Too often people get lost in what they are tracking to. Yes basic metrics such as clicks and opens and visits and conversions are important, but at the end of the day the focus should be on what the message is and what you want your customers to think of your company.
- Choose technology wisely: The only way to scale communications today is by using automation tools. More often than not, you will need multiple tools to achieve your marketing objectives. Tools that are open, integrate with others help you better understand your customer.
- Focus on the data: Data is the key to sending relevant communications to your audience. Build a team and infrastructure that enables sharing of data so that you can get to that one view of your customer.
- Leverage communities: They say ‘we is better than me’. Participate, contribute and build communities within your company and outside it. If there is a way to leverage the brainpower and contributions of multiple people with different skill sets, the output is usually better.
- Look beyond: Pick teams, put in places processes and pick tools based not only on what they can do today but for how open they are to grow, improve and collaborate with others.
Open is going to be more than the next marketing buzzword. It is going to be the new baseline for success. Not only do people feel connected to other people who are Open and also honest and transparent, but they feel the same about companies. Those who are Open, can learn, innovate and integrate better. Companies that embrace Open Marketing will be able to elevate their level of marketing and will be the companies that move the world forward.