It is unfortunately for too common for businesses to ask the wrong questions when seeking marketing support. This perpetuates the ineffective tactics led approach to marketing, which ultimately diminishes returns due to a lack of consistency with the desired strategic direction.
We often see this when a business is seeking website modifications, social media content or a branding refresh. There is the assumption that these isolated tactics will result in business growth, rather than the question being ‘how do we ensure consistency across the marketing experience and throughout each stage of the customer journey’.
Social media in itself will not foster customer loyalty or engagement if the customer base is not receptive to this medium. Similarly, a website will not result in new business if the processes behind the site are cumbersome or unwieldy.
Often there is need to dig beyond tactics to discover the broader marketing questions that need to be answered. Specifically, there the need to consider how each tactic should reinforce the customer journey to culminate in an experience that fosters outcomes.
We saw this earlier this year with Woolworths failing to consider the ramifications of its Fresh in Our Memories Campaign, and more recently with @YourTaxis, a social media campaign that failed in its attempt to shift public perceptions of the taxi industry.
While Woolworths should have had the resources, foresight and capability to think through the ramifications. The client of the YourTaxis campaign was a not-for-profit membership organisation that would have limited resources and failed to ask the right questions.
The Taxi industry, which has traditionally had few direct competitors, is now under significant pressure from Uber, despite the ride sharing service being somewhat legally ambiguous under current Victorian legislation. The Taxi Industry has responded by been undertaking advocacy efforts to review Uber given current legislation.
Uber has significant strengths in social media and strong online loyalty, aspects that are not shared by the taxi industry. A tactics based approach resulted in the YourTaxis campaign simply replicating what had worked for Uber, despite the high element of risk. The campaign failed on any discernible metric, with Twitter users complaining about Taxis and many complementing Uber within the same Tweet.
The question that should have been asked was ‘how do we improve the perception of taxis to assist in influencing the political debate?’ Had this question been asked, a social media campaign focused on soliciting public views would have never been considered.
Answering the right question would resulted in a substantially different campaign:
- There would be a focus on service delivery, highlighting improvements, such as driver training and standards, as well as streamlining the complaints process.
- Promotional campaigns would have focused on the role of taxis as a form of transport to an audience of State MPs and other decision makers, rather than end users.
- A public component could have been explored through the hopes and aspirations of taxi drivers, with the aim of building personal rapport with the sector.
Answering the right question would have resulted in a campaign focused on the entire marketing mix, with stakeholders including passengers and policy makers. Alignment between each element in the marketing mix, particularly the service, processes and people elements would have enhanced the industry’s standing.
A strategic approach to marketing ensures the right questions are being asked, so you can reach the right answers. Unfortunately in this case, the wrong question was asked twice, with a second campaign on Remembrance Day resulting in further criticism through social media.
The end result is an industry that now has a harder time influencing debate and decision makers, as well as a not-for-profit membership based association that most likely has diminished standing with its members. It is a shame when time, money and reputation is thrown away simply because the wrong questions were asked.
PS We attempted to reach out to the Agency that initiated the YourTaxis campaign to explore their perspective. We received no response.