The Blurred Line to the Consumer’s Heart

focusAs the plane leveled above the clouds and turned towards Dallas, I took note of how far I could see. This is an old habit. Marketers like to have a clean line of sight – to their consumers, their prospects, their goals. En route to attend the 2013 COLLOQUY Summit, such thoughts were natural.

But these days, the lines have never been less clear.

And that’s the irony. Technology enables us to gather data so we have a more complete picture of our customers, but technology also empowers our customers to keep one step ahead of us, often to stymy our efforts.

Customers share more data than ever, through their smartphones, tablets and GPS devices, yet they’re increasingly distrustful of business and concerned about privacy. At the same time, they are taking the merchandising process into their own hands by researching big-ticket items in the store and then buying them cheaper online, a practice we all now know as showrooming.

I can still remember, less than 10 years ago, when customers came into a store to buy something, not investigate it. Today, shoppers are holding the price scanners, through their smartphones, and capturing bar codes faster than a merchant could ring them up. If it were to have the chance, that is.

Marketers are more plugged in than ever, yet I fear some of us are becoming more tuned out.

Consider that the average person has a nine-second attention span. That’s about how long it takes to recite the alphabet. Author Sally Hogshead addresses and resolves the attention-deficit issue in her book “Fascinate,” and she will be at the Summit to share her tips for becoming a fascinating brand. She is offering a solution, and I look forward to it.

Other speakers at the Summit also will help put these blurred lines into focus, because the fundamentals of marketing and loyalty haven’t changed. The speakers, representing Google, Coca-Cola, FedEx, CVS and others, are setting industry standards as they zero in on the customer – not product or performance goals – and make her the center of their purpose.

Companies such as these use data to clarify their view of the customer’s preferences and needs, so they can deliver messages and experiences that resonate. The key is realizing that customers not only want to be recognized and rewarded for what they do, but also for whom they are.

That’s a pretty clear expectation, yet all the insights in the world will fail to meet it if they are not deconstructed to reveal the consumer’s aspirations and preferences. That takes clear dedication.

From where I sit at the COLLOQUY Summit, among the best marketers in loyalty, I think I can see it coming together.

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