NEW YORK CITY — You can't tell people what to buy anymore.

Now you have to go beyond product pitches and memorable jingles to engage and excite them: You actually have to take the time to build digital relationships with them by turning your marketing messages into marketing experiences.

That was the somewhat daunting, yet actionable message from James McQuivey, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research during his morning keynote at Ad Age Digital Conference at Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan today.

Hyperadoption and Disruption

In a presentation that explored how consumers are moving from attention to intention to adoption faster than ever before, McQuivey acknowledged that the balance of power in advertising and marketing has shifted from companies to consumers.

But he also maintained that smart CMOs would recognize this as an opportunity to create unique digital relationships with their customers by capitalizing on two things: consumer hyperadoption and digital disruption.

Forrester defines hyperadoption, a concept it introduced last year, as rapid and simultaneous uptake of new behaviors. People are changing behaviors faster now than they did in the past — if they even changed them at all back then.

They're doing so in part because of digital disruption, which is reducing the costs to bring new ideas and products to market.

Relationships Matter

There are an ever-growing number of new products, services and experiences available to consumers — and lower costs and convenient access are making it both easy and low risk to try them.

That rapidly changing, expanding universe is broadening customer choices, changing traditional customer journeys and challenging marketers to refine the ways they reach customers.

It’s not customer outcomes that matter anymore, McQuivey said. "Now it's all about creating customer relationships," he said.

Addressing Customer Needs

In the Age of the Customer, "marketing must become an integrated part of the relationship, not an isolated function." He added that marketing leaders should:

  • Make customer outcomes the heart of marketing, but understand the deeper implications of CX
  • Turn marketing messages into marketing experiences
  • Remind everyone the real purpose of big data is to better understand and more agilely serve the customer

McQuivey said the future of marketing lies in data's ability to influence the relationships between brands and customers, and added that the best way to relate to customers is through real-time data.

Marketers have to understand their customers, not just speak to them but actually know who they are, he explained. And knowing who they are happens through real time digital connection to the customer.

Now in its 10th year, the Ad Age Digital Conference continues tomorrow with a keynote on improving customer experience through innovation and presentations from speakers including Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble.

Title image by Asa Aarons Smith