Editor's Cut: Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” For me, this feels like such a loaded quote.
On one hand, it could relate to knowing our audience and where we are trying to lead them. We operate in an age where we can know any number of microscopic details about our customers, down to the individual and what their specific likes and expectations might be. But when we set out to create customer experiences and journeys, how many of us have actually thought about where we are going? And by that, I mean how many of us have really thought through the journey to determine what the real destination should be?
For far too many journeys, the destination is the end of a campaign, whether that means calling a sales rep, downloading a paper or clicking the “buy now” button. The destination, in this scenario, is an individual transactional exchange, whether it is designed to obtain more customer data or cold, hard cash. But is that where we are going, or is it a pit stop along the way? For marketers who are looking down the road, that transaction is nothing more than an opportunity to refuel our customers and keep them on the path to loyalty, advocacy and a robust (i.e., ridiculously profitable) lifetime of value. But if we don’t actually have that destination in mind, we could end up somewhere drastically different.
Lisa Arthur, longtime CMO Council member and CMO of Teradata, summed it up beautifully when she started a blog post by saying, “We live in an age of distraction, and it’s never been more difficult to capture the attention of consumers.” This age of distraction can far too easily veer our best intentions horribly off course and actually harm the business due to accidental destinations. With the campaign-focused destination, a single misstep could very well lead our customer straight to the competition. The power of data in this age of distraction lies in knowledge: Marketers can know the destination, the customer and the journey itself.
There will be people who will think that journeys to unexpected places don’t need to be thought of through a negative lens—likening these instances to finding an unexpected gem to stop at for dinner instead of your planned destination. My argument here is that the very definition of the destination is not correctly defined. The destination goal should be a place to have a great dinner…not going to a specific restaurant. This way, given the parties involved and the knowledge, insight and data that are available to us, we can find the hidden gem that takes us exactly where we want to go. It’s the difference between having a goal that our strategy tracks toward and having a rigid track that never accounts for our customers, our markets or life in general.
It’s about correctly defining the destination and leaving room to account for all of the possibilities. Because for marketers, to end with another quote from Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Orchestrating the journey for our customers—or for ourselves—is a process that ain’t over…well…till it’s over. It is ever evolving and shifting based on the data and intelligence we can apply to make subtle shifts toward improved impact.
Until next month!
P.S. Do you know where you are going? Let me know your thoughts! Send a message to @lizkmiller, and let’s keep talking!