Globalisation and a harsh economic environment provide the backdrop to this ever-changing and complex commercial world. In this arena, our customers are bombarded with messages from a vast range of brands and through a sweep of media that is more intense than ever before.
Faced with this concerted pressure for attention, customers have become far more selective and discerning in their choices.
But faced with all these challenges, are we as marketers doing enough to understand and respond to their needs?
Are we expecting our brand reputations to carry us through or are we spending the time we should to keep our brands energised? With so many demands, it is easy to spend time focused on product launches, advertising and activities for the demand generation. Are we bal-ancing these immediate activities with enough time understanding the behaviours, trends and sources of loyalty that will help us attract, develop and retain our target customers? Are we maintaining control over this area of marketing or we are outsourcing and relying on second-hand sources of data?
We know that fundamentally strong brands are the combination of a great product with a great customer experience. Creating and sustaining that experience means using our insights into customer needs to shape the things we do. With the pressures within our companies to drive down costs and minimise expenditure, it is essential that we keep these insights and the creation of a brand experience high on our agendas.
If marketers don't attend to this, then who will? Who will have the understanding of how our products and services are involved in the lives of our customers? Who will bring back the news that the world is moving on and needs are changing? Who will provide the sources of innovation that enable new products or the brand experience to stay ahead of the pack?
As with so many aspects of life, the important thing is to remember the fundamentals. While the big bucks are spent on all the downstream promotional activities, the upstream activities of research, insight and understanding the competitive environment are vital.
We must ensure that we invest our time in listening to what the market is saying. We must also engage with our product colleagues, who are grappling with the cost structure challenges, and convince them to stay fresh and be prepared to be bold.
If we divert from this task, we are surely giving up on our brands. We will survive for a while - but the market is unforgiving; others will be quick to fill the gap and the loyalty we had built will begin to erode.
How soon will it be then before the edifice of the brand starts to crack because we became distracted from listening to the people who matter most in our business lives?
This article was first published on Marketing