Modern Marketing

Customer-Centric Marketing with Ronald Ladouceur, Media Logic VP

By:

I had the chance to interview Ron Ladouceur, Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Media Logic, a conversation-centric marketing firm.  Ladouceur was a driving force behind the development of Media Logic’s Conversation-Centric Marketing model which helps companies looking for help to define their social media strategy. Find out how the marketing landscape has changed and the ways it affects how we generate leads, move prospects through the funnel and manage our day to day duties as marketers. There has been a dramatic shift where marketing has becomer more “customer-centric” than ever. Read below to learn more.

You’ve been in this business 25 years. How has it changed in that time?

The question is not how the business has changed in the last 25 years, it is how has it changed in the last two years, or maybe just the last 12 months.

We marketers are on the front lines of a revolution. The chaos around us is making it a bit difficult to see the contours of the landscape. But 12 months has been enough time for some of the smoke to clear. What’s emerging looks, at first, like an alien landscape; some kind of Twilight Zone alternate reality where the tried and true rules of lead generation and lead nurturing no longer apply.

Many marketers are still hoping things will settle back to something recognizably “normal.” But I think that’s unlikely.

How does this new landscape affect lead generation and lead nurturing?

In the old days – like 12 months ago – a marketer’s job, if he or she couldn’t get somebody to buy something immediately, was to excite prospects and drive them into a sales funnel. From there, a separate sales force took over.

Today, not only has the line between marketing and sales become blurred, the entire neat step-by-step funnel process has been upset. We say, provocatively, “There is no funnel.” But it is probably more accurate to say the sales funnel has gone leaky.

So what are you suggesting marketers do to adjust?

The first thing we marketers need to do is accept that our world has changed. Radically, and forever. As they say about addicts, you have to hit rock-bottom before you can begin to recover.

Second, we need to get our heads around exactly what has changed in our world.

I think there are two things we need to understand. First, the Internet is now everywhere, available to everyone, from virtually any point on the planet. Second, new technologies and applications allow us to create trusted “word-of-mouth” networks, gather information and opine “without friction.”

In order to make sense of it, and to begin to turn it to our advantage, we need a new model for marketing.

Can you describe your Conversation-Centric Marketing™ model?

As I said before, our new “Internet-everywhere” world combined with massive social networking has changed the marketing landscape.

Media Logic’s Conversation-Centric Marketing (CCM) attempts to map or model this new landscape. Rather than picturing marketing as a linear process – product to marketing to funnel to sales – we picture it as kind of cloud of networks. At the center is the conversation our clients have directly with their, what we call, “networks of trust.” Whether this conversation, which takes place mostly in social media space, is a primary, secondary or only incidental marketing channel, we consider it the most critical channel to master. We partner with CMOs and other in-house client marketers to help them add and extract maximum value from the two-way conversation they can now have with customers and prospects.

Though it is a little confusing to describe, the model is not that complex. It sometimes takes a bit of convincing to get a client who has yet to see a significant benefit from social media to implement CCM, particularly since it demands that they not only adopt a new paradigm but also enter into a marketing relationship with us.

 

Maybe it would be helpful if you gave us an example of how you might apply the model in a specific situation?

Sure. Let’s take the case of a “geographically unbound” business, in other words, an organization that can do business anywhere. The first thing we want that business to understand is that something like 8 out of 10 of their prospects are finding them via search. Obviously, that means the business needs to be easy to find; there needs to be enough contextualized and optimized content freely available so that the business shows up in the first 10 links on Google whenever a prospect searches for anything they sell.

However, even a less search-dependent, or “geographically bound” business, needs to have its conversations in order. Why? Because even if a prospect knows what a business sells and is able to navigate directly to the business’ main URL, he or she still expects to be able to “shop” the business on their own – to self-qualify and self-nurture – without having to engage a salesperson or a salesbot.

What is the role of traditional, or what you call “instigation” media?

Content marketing and social media, though critical in helping brands become more “findable,” “shoppable” and trustworthy, cannot entirely replace traditional marketing. Ads and other marketing messages that interrupt a prospect’s day are still required to announce a brand, frame an initiative and kick people into action.

And here is where flexible and easy-to-deploy lead capture and lead nurturing tools, like Marketo, play a more critical role than ever. Rather than implementing a small number of “full funnel” automated marketing programs attached to specific conversion opportunities, Conversation-Centric Marketing demands we create multiple invitations to learn“a little more. One important point: these invitations must endeavor and, in fact, promise not to “capture” the lead, but rather simply assist the shopper until such time as the lead is ready to purchase.

Any final words?

Information used to be the salesperson’s fishing line. They would let it out, let it out, and let it out, and then set the hook. Now the salesperson, or even the automated sales process, is rarely a prospect’s only, or even best, source of information. Whenever a sales person tries to set the hook, the line snaps.

Conversation-Centric Marketing puts social media at the center of strategic development, allowing our clients and ourselves, working in daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute contact, to design prospect-empowering marketing programs, establish productive two-way relationships with key networks of trust, inspire advocacy and build the brand out from there.

For details, I invite you to download our whitepaper, “Making Sense of the New Social Order.”