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10 min read

Driving demand during uncertain times: Top 10 ways to innovate your marketing strategy today

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This article originates from a presentation at the Revenue Marketing Summit in Denver, 2023. 

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We're living through a period marked by significant changes and uncertainties. While it may sound clichĂ©, the impact of global events, such as pandemics and geopolitical conflicts, cannot be understated, particularly in the context of marketing. 

These developments force us, as marketers, to continually adapt and rethink our strategies.

In this sea of change, it's crucial to anchor ourselves to constants, and one element that consistently stands out, as I've observed at Amazon, is the undeniable fact that the customer is in control.

As marketers, we often craft strategies and pathways anticipating how we think our customers should behave. Yet, time and again, they surprise us, charting their own course.

Being customer-obsessed is no longer just an option; it's a necessity. Those who fail to align with their customers' needs and preferences risk being left behind. Therefore, our focus must be on understanding and adapting to customer behaviors, ensuring that our marketing strategies are not only innovative but also genuinely customer-centric.

I'm Joel Benway, currently leading a digital marketing team at Amazon. In this article, I’ll share my 10 insights into innovating your marketing strategy, highlighting key strategies to innovate and stay ahead in these rapidly changing times.

Understanding the disruptive digital landscape

The past few years have been a testament to disruption, especially in digital marketing. These changes have made it imperative for us as marketers to stay vigilant and adaptable to evolving consumer behaviors. However, in the pursuit of customer obsession, we often complicate things more than necessary.

At its core, customer obsession can be distilled into a simple concept: eliminating friction. 

In digital marketing campaigns, we often talk about 'fuel' versus 'friction.' Fuel represents the resources we invest in a campaign, including budget, strategy, and partnerships. It's about the effort and thought we put into launching our initiatives.

Image courtesy of Joel Benway

On the flip side, friction pertains to the barriers that prevent customers from engaging with our campaigns as desired. These could be issues related to user experience, messaging clarity, or relevance. 

Understanding and addressing these friction points can make our 'fuel' much more effective, enabling us to achieve better results with potentially less effort. By focusing on reducing friction, we enhance the customer experience and, consequently, the effectiveness of our marketing strategies.

Excessive friction leads to failure. In skiing, it's about allowing gravity to guide you and avoiding abrupt turns. Similarly, in marketing, it's about creating a seamless journey for the customer, without unnecessary obstacles or complexities.

Innovating the Kindle marketing strategy

Let's take a real-world example from my time at Amazon, working on the Kindle product line. We faced a challenge in encouraging owners of previous Kindle devices to upgrade to newer models. Despite significant efforts in marketing, including influencer and paid social media campaigns, we struggled to drive upgrades.

The breakthrough came when we identified the main friction point: customers were unsure what to do with their old devices. To address this, we introduced two key elements on the product detail page: a 20% saving offer on a trade-in and a clear option for free returns. 

This strategy directly addressed the customers' main concern, making the upgrade process more appealing and less daunting. By reducing this friction, we not only enhanced the customer experience but also improved the effectiveness of our marketing efforts.

Whether in skiing or marketing, the key is to minimize friction, allowing the natural momentum (be it gravity or customer interest) to lead to a successful outcome.

The path to demand generation: 10 ways to eliminate friction

As we delve deeper into the concept of driving demand in these unpredictable times, I've identified 10 key strategies focused on eliminating friction.

These approaches are designed to streamline the customer experience, ensuring that we, as marketers, align our efforts with the evolving landscape of customer expectations and behaviors.

1. Acknowledge the customer is in control

The first and most foundational step is to acknowledge that the customer is in control. This might sound familiar, but it's crucial to understand the complexity it brings to the traditional customer lifecycle

Gone are the days of simple, linear journeys; today, customers embark on a multitude of paths, each with its unique touchpoints. Recognizing this shift is fundamental to all digital marketing strategies.

Written by:

Joel Benway

Joel Benway

Joel is the Product Marketing and Go-to-Market Lead of Amazon Devices at Amazon.

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Driving demand during uncertain times: Top 10 ways to innovate your marketing strategy today