Friday, 17 September 2010

Fostering a new culture of test and learn in financial services

This week a group of digital industry professionals came together at the Dmexco trade show in Cologne to discuss the future of marketing. The key take out of the day was that Marketers must take more risks if digital is to be fully capitalised upon. Digital channels and platforms are so fluid that it's essential brands begin to look at running far more testing. That means allocating realistic small budgets and spending time and money on analysis. That means being open to failure, multiple failure if necessary and moving on quickly until success is achieved.

This is easy to say, but financial services is a category built on risk elimination and steeped in compliance process. Test and learn is not a natural fit within that environment, however test and learn requires a shift in thinking about the problem that may not be seen as so risky. In fact it could actually be safer in the long-run.

Seth Godin this week expanded on his initial thoughts - commonly held by many - regarding the shape of the prospect funnel. He has long held a belief that targeting in modern marketing is skewed and has gone beyond the expensive ‘one to many’ philosophy of old advertising and flipped to a 'one to the most relevant'. His assertion is that you should spend the majority of your time identifying the most influential individuals for your products and then work with those individuals on multiple small projects and rely on the viral effect to monitor an increase in spend.

This more risky initial approach could in theory actually be a less risky strategy in the long-term. You're effectively developing live real-time test cells and focus groups which will help to identify and promote your future successes at a lower cost per test and all online. Over time the products that win out will be those that are the most attractive and the most stable. It's time to think bigger by thinking smaller, be more experimental, be less risk-averse but ultimately win.

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