What the heck does "The Hero's Journey" have to do with direct marketing? Quite a bit according to Brian Solis.
"The truth is that innovation works for us and against us," says Solis—author and principal of the Altimeter Group—in his recent book "What's the Future of Business?" "Investing in it with purpose and design is our responsibility."
To successfully integrate today's technologically adept customers into your business, according to Solis, requires change. And the business leader who drives that change is setting forth on a journey that is not so different from the famous "Hero's Journey" that American mythologist Joseph Campbell identified as the heart of mythic cycles from around the world.
"As someone who recognizes the need for change, you are about to embark on an epic journey," says Solis. Like the hero in Campbell's monomyth, "you will encounter challenges, but with hard work, perseverance, and the support of those around you, you can also experience the same decisive victory as Campbell's heroes."
I suspect many of our readers are wondering what this change he's talking about is all about, which brings us to the crux of Solis' book: Do customers need to be treated differently today, and even more tomorrow, than they have been for the past decade?
That's also the crux of "What's the Future of Marketing?" which is the morning keynote address Solis will deliver on Aug. 15 to kick off the 2013 Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference. (Sign up here if you haven't already, it's going to be a great show!)
Solis' reasoning for why you need to begin approaching customers differently boils down to seven points that are clearly in the realm of marketing:
- Connected customers are growing in number and they offer marketers valuable new touchpoints. These are consumers who are always connected and always online thanks to their mobile devices. That includes Millennials, but also children growing up now who will become the generation after them—to whom a magazine may just feel like an iPad that doesn't work. It also includes any Gen X consumers who have embraced that always-online lifestyle. Judging from smartphone adoption rates, that's a significant number of the U.S. adult and business market.
- Connected customers have influence and are influenced differently than customers have been in the past.
- Their expectations are different from your current customers, and they align with you for different reasons than you think (which Solis explains in deeper detail in his book than we have room for here).
- The channels they use may not cross the channels you're used to marketing in. (He's looking at you, TV.)
- They expect seamless integration when they connect with you through different channels, which they do.
- Above all else, they value being valued (above even getting a value in bargain pricing).
- To connect with connected customers requires transformation in your organization so that you can understand what they're behavior means, read between the lines of the digital interactions to see what they really want, and define a customer experience that will attract them and keep them loyal.
To enact that kind of change in a marketing department takes a hero, according to Solis.
It's an interesting metaphor that Solis builds throughout the book and much of his recent work. Is he right? Listen to what he has to say on Aug. 15 and decide for yourself.