Your difference makes THE difference to your revenue
Over the years I've been lucky to have worked with many of Australia's top brands, Myer, Freedom, Optus to name a few. All highly successful over the years and all now facing the dilemmas of the digital age. While Myer as a department store has failed to compete against the onslaught of digital stores offering free returns and is struggling to find its relevance, the question has to be asked - are Australian businesses choosing markdown over marketing and losing sight of their revenue potential by not going back to basics?
In a world where digital demands we sell in 30 characters and a 15 second window, have we chosen to push price as a means of conversion, putting at risk the revenues we strive hard to maintain? Freedom is perhaps a perfect example of this.
I worked with Freedom when it was first launched, when it was competing against Ikea as providers of well priced, and in many cases flat-packed, furniture. Their key differentiator was value fashionable furniture, but it was also about how to style a room at a good price. It was innovative, bringing fashion into furniture and underpinning the 'look' with a value proposition - Style an entire room for $X.00. Today although they have pulled back a bit from this strategy, they have almost trained their customers to wait for a sale. A slippery slope. One they have obviously realised and one that is difficult to reverse.
And Optus, once a challenger brand who lead the market with product innovation and exceptional service, has now lost the meaning of the YES it took ownership of so many years ago. As a marketing manager we were proud of our innovation and the challenge we bought to Telstra. Remember wanting that handset so you could get access to games and cool content and then finding out you could pay off the phone over the course of your contract? That idea was mine and was key to getting handsets into users hands so we could sell them data back in the WAP days. It worked and these days we can get whatever handset we want but the actual product underneath has almost become homogenous.
Would you believe the YES came from a customer care strategy of being helpful and supportive- saying yes instead of no? Probably not.
Digital has undoubtably changed the way we consume media, but it has not changed the fundamentals of marketing; the need to relate our sales messages to ours and our clients core values. It has not changed the unique selling propositions or our brand differentiation. It is also not the only channel available to us for communication.
Is it that the pressure from media to deliver short and sweet messages that has made us lazy? Is it that marketers are now focusing on digital so much, they're forgotten the art of real communication and strategic differentiation to meet market needs? Or is it that the fundamentals of marketing really are dead in 2019? The latter I simply don't accept but it may well be being overlooked.