Consent is more than the zeitgeist of the moment. It is coming to frame all interactions. And we in marketing are compelled to sit up and take notice or bear the consequences of our inaction.
Customer-centricity is important, but it is not enough. There is no doubt that the required evolution of marketing; and indeed, of your entire organization requires you to place the customer at the center of everything. Achieving this requires every organization to overcome significant hurdles. Despite our most genuine intent, almost every organization starts with an organic centricity—an organizational self-interest. It exerts an enormous gravitational pull on everything we do. Whether it’s our channel focus, our cultural bias, our deep belief in our product, our internal culture or our perceived market position, we usually begin the journey to customer-centricity with self-interest at the center of our orbit.
Even when we accept the challenge and decide to pursue customer-centricity, we constantly run up against the natural bias of entitlement. We are inclined to want things from customers. We want them to do things for us, and we want to influence or coax them to do those things for us. The entitlement bias is not sustainable in a word where, like it or not, the customer is in control. The new question to be answered is: “What we can do for the customer; at every stage of their journey with us, regardless of whether or not they ever transact with us.”
Welcome to the world of consent-based marketing. It’s been gaining steam for quite a while, and the advent of GDPR in Europe is undoubtedly a loud clarion call for all of us. But it is only the beginning of where marketing needs to go. The new world order states that you can only use my information, and you can only speak or engage me if I consent to it. You have to earn my permission and trust to engage me, and you have to maintain your value to me or I will withdraw my consent at any time of my own volition.
Our mission as marketers has always been to bring the prospect to the “cash register” to convince them to buy what we wanted to sell. No more. Our new mission as marketers is to bring value to every interaction we have with a customer or potential customer; to facilitate the decision they want to make; on their terms not, ours.
That may seem daunting or unreasonable in many ways. But be assured of one thing; in a world where what did not exist yesterday is obsolesced tomorrow. If you don’t do it, someone else will.