TIn terms of marketing, the year 2021 is a brave new world. With new forms of technology emerging on a regular basis, this is not news. What’s new in 2021 – which is a carry over from 2020 – is the Covid factor.
How should one invest one’s marketing dollar in this brave new world? That’s not really new either is it? Department store magnate and pioneer John Wanamaker (who died in 1922) is credited as saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”
Nearly a century after Wanamaker’s death, many companies are still struggling with that basic question.
Over the last hundred years, companies have been moving (sometimes slowly, sometimes a lot more quickly) away from activities that require the company to interact directly with their customers in favor of technologies where the customer interacts directly with their desired products with no human intervention.
Amazon may be the biggest example. If you regularly buy things from (or through) Amazon, ask yourself about when was the last time you had direct contact with someone from Amazon. If you’re lucky, you might cross paths with the Amazon Prime driver when your package is delivered. Aside from that, lots of luck.
Whenever possible, companies replace people with machines. Let’s face it. They’re cheaper. When trying to find any kind of help, how often do you run into a chat room with a “virtual assistant” (“I can understand complete sentences.”) who will attempt to solve your problem?
Unfortunately this seems to be a common thread in the world of 21st Century customer service. You can sum it up this way: customer service – when it’s convenient for us (i.e. the company.) Otherwise, you’re on your own.
All of which gives the company the ultimate out: when their brand of customer service doesn’t work, doesn’t deliver, or doesn’t serve – Blame the Technology. There was a time when that kind of responsibility was known as passing the buck.
So how does this answer the basic question of where to spend my marketing dollar? The answer lies in anywhere where you’re willing to back it up with people who are dedicated to making things right for the customer – regardless of B2B or B2C, regardless of the technology, or anything else.