Disruptive marketing involves the use of experimental tactics that challenge the status quo. Rather than following conventional marketing wisdom, disruptive marketers are testing daring, new tactics that have not been tried before. Some work while others fall flat. And that’s okay, that’s how innovation works.
Without a break, we would remain in a static state of stagnation and never evolve.
Why is “disruptive marketing” such a buzzword today and what led to this point? Marketing disruptions are more important than ever in most industries due to rapid technological advances, rising consumer expectations, and fierce competition.
In this post, we cover the forces that led to marketing disruption and share actionable tips that will fuel your own disruptive marketing efforts.
But first, here’s a little background on disruptive marketing.
Disruptive marketing isn’t new
Between the ninth and twelfth centuries, traders began holding the first fairs. (1) This disrupted the previous norm in which commerce was carried out on human relationships.
In 1440, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the first printing press that companies could use to place advertisements in locally distributed newsletters. (2) These ads were also early forms of disruptive marketing.
Marketing disruptions slowly developed into the 1990s when we entered the digital age. Then it started to explode.
Why disruptive marketing is so important today
The increasing need for disruptive marketing tactics is mainly due to technological innovation, the consumers who use this technology and the intense competition in most industries.
Rapid technological advancement
In 1987, 0.005% of the US population used cell phones. (3)
Ten years later, in 1998, that number was 20%. (4)
By the end of 2017, 95% of Americans owned cell phones. (5)
Think about it for a moment and consider how cell phone technology alone has determined how marketers reach their target audience.
New consumers with higher expectations
New generations of consumers exhibit different purchasing behaviors than previous generations, including higher usage rates of rapidly evolving digital technologies.
Their use of technology has led to new and higher consumer expectations. Here are some ways consumer expectations and behaviors are changing, forcing marketers to adopt disruptive marketing practices.
Use of social media
To be fair, social media is used by every generation of consumers today. However, younger generations use it more often.
2019 data shows that 90.4% of U.S. millennials use social media, compared to 77.5% of Gen Xers and 48.2% of Baby Boomers. (6)
Given that millennials are now the largest consumer demograph in the US, this has a huge impact on marketing tactics. (7) Marketers need to invent new, disruptive ways to reach their target audience on social media.
Experts predict that by the end of 2020, the customer experience will be the brand’s most important differentiator. Brands like Amazon and Netflix, which offer a deeply personalized customer experience, have set expectations back significantly.
Going forward, marketers should investigate disruptive tactics to improve customer experience if they are to be successful.
This goes hand in hand with the customer experience. If your customers are not using your product or service successfully, you will likely lose them to the competition.
You might be wondering how marketing and customer success are related. For one, customer success teams can identify happy customers ready to provide customer testimonials for marketing.
Second, marketing isn’t just about lead generation, it’s also about customer loyalty. When marketers find new ways to deliver materials that drive customer success, they not only increase retention rates, but they also encourage cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Increased competition across the board
Competition in many industries – particularly in technology – is more intense than ever. Let’s take a look at how increasing competition is causing disruption to marketing.
Increased competition means that it is easy for a customer to leave you to a competitor because there are so many of them.
Gone are the days when you ignored your customers’ needs. If you don’t deliver unique value and listen to customers’ needs, they will go to a company that does.
Marketers need to find disruptive ways to differentiate themselves from the competition by distinguishing themselves as customer-centric brands (more on this below).
A changing balance of power
Consumers have more power in the customer-supplier relationship than ever before because it is easy to leave you to a competitor.
If you deliver a bad customer experience, customers can access social media directly and blow up your business, doing serious damage to your brand reputation. How do you avoid that? Disorder.
Tips for disruptive marketing tactics
Here are some tactics you can implement today to cause disruption.
While technological advances are forcing us to invent new disruptive marketing tactics, we can use technology to take the disruptive measures.
Technology can help you better meet increasing customer expectations. Customers want a personalized or humanized marketing experience. To do this, marketers need to have a deep understanding of customers’ needs, challenges, goals, etc.
The Unified CRM
Unified Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a good example. You track every point of contact a brand has with prospects and customers. Marketers can use these insights to experiment with new tactics to personalize reach and deliver what customers need at every stage of the customer journey.
In addition, Unified CRMs are great for experimenting with new tactics as they provide A / B testing capabilities and data analysis to track results. With a unified CRM, you can experiment with a sample group before propagating a disruptive tactic to all of your prospects.
Be ready to fall
Disruptive marketers are constantly testing new ideas, and many of those ideas are unsuccessful. Be prepared for it because it is an integral part of disruptive marketing.
Instead of viewing an unsuccessful tactic as a failure, consider it a learning experience. The best lessons come from recovering from a fall. Few great things happen without trial and error.
Leave emotions at the door
You can rest assured that a new tactic you have developed has revealed the golden key to success. And it could be the next best practice that everyone is into. But it couldn’t be.
Be careful not to fall in love with new tactics that you experiment with. If you do this and the tactic doesn’t work as expected, you feel like you have failed. This can lead to a loss of motivation and confidence, which are two of the worst enemies of a disruptive marketer.
Stick to your beliefs
If you’re coming up with a new plan that no one has dared to venture out on and bringing it up comes with criticism, let it roll off your shoulders. Don’t let other people’s doubts stop you from going against the grain.
Otherwise, you won’t succeed in disrupting marketing. Disruption requires courage, determination, and an unrelenting sense of trust.
Follow the results of each experiment meticulously
Keep a list of ideas that you’ve tried, whether they’re successful or not. If you didn’t succeed, but still got some results, you might just need to tweak it a little to make it a winner.
This is another area where unified CRM comes in handy. Any new campaign or tactic you try can be tracked in your CRM system. You can report success rates, study on the go, and keep track of which tactics are attracting new leads or repeating deals.
Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer
After all, you’re a consumer too, so this won’t be difficult. Ask yourself, “What could Company X have done differently to win me over?” Then test this different approach with your customers or prospects.
Validate before repeating
Don’t blindly toss a wrench into the spokes of your marketing machine. It is important to test new, disruptive tactics on a sample group of customers or prospects before fully implementing them.
For this reason, the reporting and tracking functions of a unified CRM are central to effective disruptive marketing. Best of all, the same unified CRM system allows you to test disruptive tactics to validate them before trying them out on a large scale.
Follow innovators and thought leaders
To be disruptive, you need to stay on top of new trends and innovations. Follow key thought leaders in your industry on social media. Pay attention to what they are talking about.
Sometimes we have a revolutionary idea lurking just below the surface of our consciousness, but a key element is missing. All you need is a fresh perspective from someone else to connect the dots, find the missing link, and move on to the next successful marketing tactic.
Understand your customers and your industry
Finally, it’s important that you understand your market and customer base beyond data points. Otherwise, you will not be able to put yourself in their shoes or understand their needs and goals.
If you work in investment banking, experimenting with goofy humor in your marketing efforts is unlikely to produce results. But dry, smart humor might work.
Conversely, if you work in children’s toy manufacturing, the opposite is likely to be the case.
Are you ready to disturb
Only you can answer this question. One thing we can say for sure is that if you don’t keep evolving your marketing approach, you will end up stepping on water as everyone swims past you.
To be a successful disruptive marketer, you need to have firm faith in your own abilities. You also need the right technology to bring your ideas to life, test them, and measure and learn from the results.
Would you like to learn more about a unified CRM and how you can use it to carry out disruptive marketing campaigns? Request a demo from an Insightly representative to see how you can align sales and marketing, test different marketing ideas, measure results, and continuously improve your customers’ experiences with your brand.
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1-2. “Infographic: A History of Disruptions in B2B Marketing,” Oracle, 2012
3-4. “US Cell Phone Subscribers, 1985-2010,” Infoplease, 2017
5. Mobile Fact Sheet, Pew Research Center, 2019
6. “US Social Media Users by Generation,” eMarketer, 2019
7. “Millennials Are Overtaking Baby Boomers As America’s Greatest Generation,” Pew Research Center, 2020