The Bard: Lo! Thou Dearest Marketers, Stop Horsing Around

“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

It’s that time of year when I plan my annual pilgrimage to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland next summer, and the Bard is on my brain. This famous quote above comes from William Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” when the king is amidst a great battle and needs a horse to avoid being killed or defeated.

In this moment, when everything hangs in the balance, his entire kingdom isn’t worth anything if he loses.

Enter our hero, the noble marketer, arriving at precisely the right time and waiving an offer for a horse that will save the day. Of course, this didn’t happen in Shakespeare’s play, and I won’t spoil the ending even though “Richard III” was written in the late 16th century.

But all the world’s a stage, and this scene from “Richard III” illustrates an important lesson for modern marketers. Not only must marketers have the most recent customer data at their fingertips but also the ability to act in the moment of need. The best data, analytics and personalized offers in the world won’t do marketers any good if the customer has already left the battlefield.

Unfortunately, it’s a good bet most marketers miss the moment, a recurring theme in this issue of Marketing Magnified:

Lisa Nirell, author of “The Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World,” pens a smart piece on how marketers miss the moment at conferences. From poorly vetted panelists to sloppy conference planning to tone-deaf agendas, marketers can inadvertently cause appalling experiences for attendees.

Bruno Gralpois, author of “Agency Mania: Harnessing the Madness of Client/Agency Relations for High-Impact Results,” writes about marketers missing the moment by failing to conduct performance evaluations of agency partners and internal client teams, thus leading to painful breakups.

“Too many [brand advertisers] aren’t benefiting from truly actionable insights and are missing out on the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with their partners,” Gralpois says.

Saving the best for last, The CMO Council issued a hot-off-the-presses report, “Are Garbage Leads Trashing Your Brand?” This report casts a hot spotlight on the risk to brand reputation when marketers provision leads from bad actors, such as overseas lead gen farms cutting corners in lead compliance to outright illicit name scrapers.

“Right now, we want to make sure that we’re very mindful and respectful to the customer who opts-in and that they can unsubscribe at any point,” says Heidi Dethloff, Vice President of Marketing at Digimarc, in the report.

The report issues a dire warning for marketers engaging with these bad actors: Not only will marketers miss out on quality leads and serving customers in the moment, they’ll set off an irate audience hounded by irrelevant marketing messages to sling mud at the brand.

Then it’ll be the marketer who’s crying for a horse.

“Richard III” isn’t in the lineup for 2020, so I’ll be seeing “The Tempest” – a play about the wonders and dangers of new places. It’s a lot like the digital world we live in today: a world where mobile connectivity and emerging services make life easier; where the threat of personal data theft and privacy violations keep us on guard; where the moment of need is fleeting.

In many ways, marketers play the role of host in this brave new world. They hope to create delightful customer experiences without creeping people out. By delivering the right value in the moment of need, marketers can win over customers. If they miss or misuse it, they can damage the customer relationship, perhaps permanently.

“Be not afeard,” Caliban says to wide-eyed newcomers in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” “The isle is full of  noises, sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.”

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