January 06, 2021
Many brands hope for a return to normalcy this year, a wanton turning back of the calendar to a time when marketing strategy made common sense and marketing tactics appealed to the masses. But this is wishful thinking. People have little in “common” these days, and there’s no such thing as the “masses” anymore.
We live in a polarizing, emotionally charged age that rewards disruptive marketing and brands that don’t shy away from controversy. It’s disrupt or die, as the mantra goes. Marketers who want profitable customer relationships that last a lifetime will have to make hard choices. They must abandon and even anger swaths of potential customers.
The stakes are high, the risks great.
“Some of the most successful disruptive marketing campaigns of 2021 will both embrace and exploit the polarization to an extreme,” says CEO Anthony Smith at Insightly. “Consumer product marketing campaigns that willfully take sides and alienate a portion of consumers by appealing to the values and beliefs of a specific segment will do very well."
Disruptive marketing strikes an emotional chord with consumers and gifts a customer experience that makes a lasting impression. These experiences will determine the winners and losers. The old days of competing on product features, benefits and price don’t make much sense in a world where manufacturing quickly commoditizes products and people buy on emotions.
Today’s consumers won’t spend their hard-earned dollars on brands that don’t share their personal values. Nor will they be loyal to brands that treat them like an ATM machine instead of a human being. (For more on this, see Customer Experience vs. Human Experience.)
Disruptive marketing, however, doesn’t imply impulsiveness. Marketers need the right data, analytics and MarTech to test ideas and implement changes. Customer data can help marketers determine what stances to take and how aggressive they should be. It’s a fine line.
“There are two must-haves for companies to truly disrupt the customer experience: customer insights and technology,” Smith says. “Together, these create highly customized and humanized experiences along the entire customer journey.”
Brands with the courage to take a stand and shout their values from the rooftops will see a massive increase in popularity, Smith says. Disruptive marketing campaigns are the new normal.
The good news is that brands will likely find a rapt audience wherever they decide to go, given today’s polarized culture. Smith expects to see disruptive campaign strategies aligning with Black Lives Matter and social justice, egalitarianism, conservative values, police support and defense of the U.S. Constitution.
“Political campaign slogans are not just for politics anymore, now they’re for consumer guerrilla marketing campaigns, too,” Smith says. “Welcome to 2021.”
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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