Disruption or just evolution and change?
By Aly Richards, CEO, Odyssiant
Since 2000, 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, ceased to exist or dropped out of the Fortune 500.
The reason why: change is inevitable. When things change and new information comes into existence it is no longer possible to solve current problems with yesterday’s solutions. But when you have established your business on a certain way of doing things, methods or technologies it can be hard to admit that new solutions are required. We cling on to what we know and what is paying the bills at the moment. It has always been this way, this is not a new phenomenon of our current age or the digital revolution. That is why there will always be start-ups and new entrants that challenge the status quo in all fields of business.
And so it is with Odyssiant. We tried hard to find a marketing automation solution to the problem of how to engage modern audiences. But everything we looked at was lacking in one way or another. Campaign automation solutions whilst good at execution do not help with “what” will engage a person, they are primarily concerned with the mechanics and the “how”. Essentially, distribution of the message but not the substance of the message. For the campaign automation solutions that do look at the what, i.e. content, the approaches are focused on volume of content required for a sales funnel and fulfilling channel requirements. The sales funnel is an artificial construct that the business uses to forecast, it certainly does not reflect the buying journey of a potential customer and channels are just delivery mechanisms.
We also looked at decision engines, for those of you not familiar, decision engines use predictive analytics and data mining to predict the message the person is most likely to say “Yes” to. This may not be a sale, it might be a service or might be to help the person. The decision is then offered to the customer when they turn up in one of your channels (inbound). But decision engines do not engage people. What they are best at is selecting the right thing to sell if the person is already engaged. Decision engines have been used very successfully by a large number of companies and those companies are now looking to achieve the same success by “pushing” these decisions to customers (outbound). In other words, they are using campaign automation to push a decision to a customer rather than waiting for the customer to come to them.
This will have some success, but it is a curve of diminishing returns and did not give us the engagement solution that we were looking for. The problem is that we all put the phone down on telemarketers, delete email unopened and ignore anything that interrupts us. This is only set to get worse as more of us learn how to switch it all off. Adding decisions to outbound campaigns is just putting lipstick on a pig.
Finally, we looked at editorial calendars and planning tools of which there are a plethora to select from. Whilst some are very pretty, they do not help you align what content you are looking to create with a content strategy. For a comparison, if you have done any project planning you may have used one of the many planning tools out there such as Microsoft Project. These are great tools but they do not guarantee that you will create a great plan or even the right plan. As it is with these editorial tools, they might as well be a blank spreadsheet for all the help they give in determining what content to create when and how.
A new approach is required. We built Odyssiant from the first principle that everything starts with the audience and not the brand, product or service. When you start from the audience you then build what they need to make a decision to buy your product or service. This leads to another change of audience behaviour, but a positive one – whilst we are all putting the phone down, we are all researching online more before any purchase. In fact only 2% of us do not research on line before a purchase.
By starting with the audience and starting from scratch technically we aim to disrupt not only the marketing tools environment but also marketing itself.