DMA 2012: The big trend for 2012

After four days of DMA Conference for 2012, there is one overriding theme present in almost every word spoken. A theme which – perhaps surprisingly – does not directly relate to either Big Data OR social media (though they are implied under it). A theme which goes beyond predictive analytics and every marketer’s holy grail, automated marketing.

The theme to which I am referring to is the shift in the marketing dynamic, the redefinition of marketing itself, from product-centric models to one which needs to be explicitly customer-centric.

Gone are the days of selling. Welcome to a new era where statistics and averages are irrelevant, every individual customer is just that, an individual. In an age where consumers are flooded with a barrage of messages across an average of 7.2 channels each day, companies must understand and speak to customers absolutely relevantly. The average American consumer sees a staggering 5,000+ advertising messages in a single day – an ocean of irrelevant content which is only getting worse with social media influences.

However as  Ramesh Ratan, President of Pitney Bowes Marketing Services Solutions so accurately put it, you would still hear your own child screaming in the noise of a daycare centre.

Customers will come to demand only the most relevant of messages, and perhaps rather than simply ignore those that fall short, strike out against them. The reality is that marketing will take the form of campaigns consisting of a million different messages to a million different people; one size does not fit all.

While this movement is not exactly brand new, rapid changes in the marketing environment and explosion of social media has granted it centre stage.

The only way to compete in this new world will be via technology; IT departments will move from back-office operations to front-office, customer focused rockstars. Mark Smith, SVP & GM of Pitney Bowes Software drew an analogy to traditional film vs digital cameras – film cameras demanded care in shooting as exposures were limited and were stored in shoeboxes. With digital cameras came the scale and volume created by consequence-free shooting, and the need for technology such as Picasso or iPhoto to help organise photo collections.

Marketers have the same opportunity to organise and leverage Big Data and create a truly personal experience for customers.

If you had to score your next campaign on relevance, would it make the grade or would it be hiding the report card? Is it using everything you know about your customer  to tailor the message, or does one-size-fit-all?

Finally (and as has become the tradition), to leave you with today’s quote of the day:

The marketing funnel should be replaced by creating a shared belief” – that is, if you haven’t got something nice personalised to say, don’t sat it at all. Perhaps just listen instead.