Serve don’t sell

Our Chief Strategy Officer on the new rules of marketing

Our Chief Strategy Officer Ben Kerr (@digikerr) recently wrote for The Marketing Society on how Amazon are shaping the marketing model – and how we can put their tools into practice. Here’s his thoughts:

There are various versions of these statistics flying around but they were quoted to me again in a meeting this week…

  • Amazon now accounts for 43% of all US online retail sales and they continue to grow. 
  • Approximately half of all US households are now Prime households.
  • 55% of all first product searches happen on Amazon.

There are few brands that can match Amazon’s amazing growth rate. However, most brands and agencies treat Amazon as a unique one-off.  But maybe it is not so different?

Amazon haven’t grown by being the world’s greatest and most creative marketing business. They have grown by doing something much simpler.  

They have focused on their customers. Not the customers they still want to win but those they have right now.

In a world of ad-blocking technology, ad-free platforms and tyrannical algorithms a brand’s greatest asset is the customers it has right now and Amazon prove how far you can take the strategy.  

Their mission is to become “Earth’s most customer-centric company”. 

Now I have become a Prime customer I rarely even bother checking the price when I buy a new product. Their loyalty scheme has fundamentally reduced the importance of price in my purchasing decisions.  And now they have expanded to pretty much every kind of product I buy.

They have taken the shopping out of shopping.  Now it’s just “getting”.  And just wait till Alexa is truly here.  

Apple’s major stroke of genius when it developed the iPhone, was to build a computer that had the power to do so much more for it’s customers than simply make phone calls. They understood the power of an existing relationship and how you could leverage it for more.

Airbnb has no hotel rooms, Uber no taxis, yet despite not actually producing the product they sell, they have become the largest brands in their categories they operate in, fueled by the reviews and advocates that use them. Their absolute focus has been the end-to-end customer experience rather than selling a pure product (of which arguably they have none).  

Many brand marketers will say they offer no relevance outside of their category. That’s true if you market a product. Sell a service and everything changes.

So maybe the basics of the marketing model of the future will change?  Amazon are proving the changing the dynamics of the market 

Maybe it will no longer be about the 4 Ps of marketing, it’ll be the 4 Rs.

Retention What’s the average lifespan of a customer?

Relationship What’s the extent of the relationship? How much do we do for them?

Reviews What are people saying about our service? What do we need to do to improve it?

Releases What’s the latest update and how have we improved on our latest experience? 

Measure your brand against those 4 criteria and just think how it’ll change your decision-making process and comms strategy.