The case for modern marketing
Twenty years ago, it might have seemed like science fiction: A streaming video service that knows what movies you want to watch, then suggests titles for other members of your family. An online retailer that recommends items for you to buy, based on your past purchases and which products like-minded buyers enjoyed. A music service that tracks your preferences and finds and suggests new artists you might enjoy.
Thanks to companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Pandora, those scenarios are our collective reality today. What's the common link? These surprising and delightful user experiences — which are now part of our everyday lives — are the result of the work of modern, forward-thinking marketing organizations.
I recently shared one of my favorite overviews of what a modern marketing organization does. Now, I’d like to share a perspective on why modern marketing matters — and why I believe that by adopting and adapting these practices, we can drive audiences, including students, faculty, supporters and patients, to choose The Ohio State University.
There is no longer a single source of information.
For a long time, mass communication was the holy grail. Connecting with audiences was something that happened on an organization's terms; it included, largely, one-way communications such as local and national newspapers, radio stations and local television affiliates. While these tactics are still important and have a role in the overall landscape, engaging audiences, encouraging two-way communications and driving actions is the new normal. Digital advancements, social media and new engagement tactics such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality have shattered the old model. Personalized, customized and consistent omni-channel messaging and engagement allow marketers to interact with audiences on their own terms. It's no longer sufficient to send out a press release or talk with a reporter; marketers must actively promote their content online and use social media and web ads to increase awareness of their content.
User expectations have changed. We need to understand them.
Whether they're Amazon customers or future prospective students, audiences expect more than one-way communication. Enter digital — and enter audience insights and strategy. Rather than simply telling our users what to think, we must create relevant experiences that compel them to further their relationship with Ohio State. And to accomplish this, we must know everything we can about our audiences. That means a combination of market research (quantitative and qualitative) and user behavior analysis. Once we know who our audiences are, learn how they consume information and understand what is most resonant and relevant to them, we can create experiences that wow them — and, in turn, move them closer to actions, repeat actions and additional actions.
Strategy and goals must drive the use of technology and tools.
Marketing automation, personalization, email segmentation, retargeting. Knowing the buzzwords is not enough; we must always start with "the why." What do we want to inspire our audiences to do? What are the takeaways? What actions are we trying to drive?
The marketing landscape is prolific and continues to grow. We have better, more advanced technology and tools at our disposal than ever before, and they are imperative to our work. But it’s only when we start with strategy — and truly understand our goals — that we can select the right tools, work to optimize their use for greater effectiveness and ultimately use this technology-strategy match to measure the success of our work.
Market context is key.
Consider this: Prospective students are applying to an average of six to eight schools. Let's say you know those students are interested in learning more about teaching. You craft content, take photos and create videos that showcase students in classrooms, interacting with professors. The work looks beautiful and reads well. You think it's a hit — until you see four other universities producing nearly identical content and saying identical things.
Market context is key. For work to succeed, marketers need to be aware of what else is out there, what makes their brand distinct. The market is really noisy, and if we are not sure what sets Ohio State apart, it will be impossible for us to communicate these differentiating factors to our key audiences.
The promise of modern marketing.
Why modern marketing? In a nutshell: Modern marketing fuels our ability to understand and meet people where they are, on their terms, and craft compelling experiences that exceed expectations at every step of their journey to choose and continue to engage with Ohio State. The more we can adapt and test these keys to success, the more likely we will be to engage our audiences along the continuum: from prospective students to students to young alumni to supportive alumni; from prospective patient to patient to healthy advocate. How we stay connected to our most important assets — our people — and how we support the transformational experiences that positively impact their lives or organizations is how we truly make a difference.