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Research? Really? Stay relevant by experiencing things first-hand


Chicago-based market researcher firm e-tailing group just published a study stating, among other things, that “Given the ‘anytime, anywhere’ nature of mobile, consumers are using their smartphones prior to making a purchase. Just as with websites, the store locator serves as an important destination in anticipation of store visits.” Really? It took a research study to produce those insights? (Don’t get me wrong, I’m an enthusiastic advocate of good research. To be fair, there was insightful information in that study, but the particular points I’ve cited led me to thinking about the topic for this blog post.)

I have a suggestion for anyone involved in marketing communications: as soon as you find out what the early adopters are doing, go there yourself as fast as possible. If you don’t, you will be left so far behind that you’ll never be able to stay relevant. At that point you might find insights like those above to be, well, insightful. Then you’ll know you’re in trouble as a marketer.

When studies state what seems to be the obvious, maybe we’re spending too much time reading email and have forgotten that our own experience is the best teacher. So, if you haven’t already done these things, start now:

  • Get a smartphone. Download and start using every app you can that has any relevance in your life, your job or your business category.
  • Shop with your phone, and scan barcodes in retail stores to find nearby bargains or online deals.
  • Purchase digital audio and video content from Amazon, iTunes and Netflix, and note how marketers are using these venues.
  • Watch your favorite TV shows on Hulu.com from your laptop, and pay attention to the advertising.
  • Catch the evening news on your smartphone or your web-enabled TV when you have time, not when the TV station decides to broadcast it.
  • Next time you mow your lawn, listen to a podcast of an expert in your category.
  • Subscribe to RSS content from bloggers or websites you want to follow.
  • Sell something on eBay – you have too much stuff in your basement or garage, don’t you?
  • Participate in social media of every possible kind.
  • Engage in a live chat with a customer service representative the next time you are on a retail website.
  • Go shopping for an iPad in an Apple store. Buy something while you’re there and see how they handle the checkout experience.
  • If the iPad is not what you bought at the Apple store, order one online right now and start using it. It will transform the way you think, work and play.

If you do all the above, you’ll just be starting to catch up. Then watch for the next waves and ride them all.

What did I leave off the list, or what do you think will be next on the list? What do you think is important for us, as marketing communications professionals, to experience now, before we’re left behind?

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