Marketing from the Grocery Aisles: When Metrics Get in the Way

I’ve been doing marketing for a long time, and every year, it gets more challenging and demanding. The basic work of developing convincing messaging, writing and developing communications, and identifying and reaching prospect audiences remains somewhat the same.

What’s changed is the increased focus on measuring every possible customer interaction, and thereby make decisions based on metrics. From a strategic point-of-view, it makes sense to determine what marketing vehicles, messages, and tactics are yielding the best results. With so many options from traditional media and sales channels to SEO, PPC, digital advertising, marketing automation, content marketing, social media, and much more, it’s important to shift through the chaff to identify the handful of strategies that best entice, engage, and retain customers based on a company’s desired product mix, sales organization, and long-term goals.

The simplified chart of the Oracle Marketing Cloud shows the many option available to today’s marketers. Each icon, however, is its own discipline with unique tactics, skill sets, software applications, and metrics. While the field of marketing has magnified to include technologies unimaginable just ten years ago, many companies believe marketers can quickly grasp (or should already possess) these proficiencies.

oracle-marketing-cloudEmployers naïvely believe someone who is good at producing web content and optimizing the effectiveness of a website can also master responsive marketing campaigns, and sustain an active social media and content management program.

Adding to the expectation is the requisite to capture, analysis, and report daily, weekly or monthly metrics. And based on this findings, make real-time decisions that drive interactions and sales.

To juggle these obligations, many marketers find themselves spending more time capturing metrics than marketing. This leads to a hesitancy to make decisions, try new strategies, migrate from tried-and-true tactics, and worse, do the minimum unless there’s a high likelihood, a differing approach will yield significantly better results than proven courses-of-action.

Because of the increased demand on marketers – especially in small companies or teams – the job of the marketer is becoming more analytical, less creative, and to a certain extent, less inclusive of audiences that might not be mainstream.

Does it Make Sense

Imagine if the performance and value of a checker in a grocery store was solely tied to metrics. Would they be less inclined to make small talk if they’re being clocked on the speed (rather than accuracy) in which they rung-up customers’ carts? If they were asked to use 25% less bags would consumers become peeved if their purchases were crammed into a couple of bags, which lead to more breaking or crushing of items placed on the bottom of over-loaded bags?

What if checker were also asked to expand their roles and help drive sales by peddling products. Imagine the conversation, “I see that you purchased brand XYZ of cheese. Did you know that brand ABC has 20% less fat and is on the sale this week for $5.99 per pound? You should buy some [because my performance is partially based on my weekly increase in the sale of brand ABC cheese].”

Of course it’s preposterous to think grocer checkers should step outside the key scope of their job, which is to accurately scan and bag purchases, and correctly collect payments. Their role is also to provide good customer service, which might be as simple as a smile, comment about the weather or observation that watermelons are finally in season.

Grocery workers who aren’t checkers help strengthen the customer experience by providing personalized services at meat, bakery, and deli counters, locating products that might not be in an obvious locations, and ensuring shelves are stocked and attractive.

It’s not a grocery worker’s role to judge or influence what shoppers are purchasing, how often they shop, and what they use for payment. It’s far more important for them to be the “face” of a grocery store, interacting with customers, providing great service, and fostering loyalty.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense for companies to retain or decrease the size of their marketing staff while adding the expectation that they become more analytic and agile by quickly mastering modern marketing skills and strategies.

Modern marketing depends on having the right people with the right skills doing what’s necessary to provide the best customers experience whether generating a sale by guiding customers through a sales funnel or face-to-face at a brick-and-mortar business.



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