• Geoff Linton

The Focused Mindset to Cut Through Noise

Updated: Sep 17

At a 30,000 foot view from the C-Suite, business is about serving an addressable audience and making a difference by providing value to customers. The end result is that successful businesses constantly build equity and generate a sustainable cash flow.


The challenge for today’s businesses is how to navigate in an environment filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). You can’t control volatility and uncertainty. Fortunately, there are techniques and solutions from other industries that can help companies take control & tame the complexity.



When things are complex, apply simplicity and focus on the foundational elements of your business. In my engineering days, I was constantly reminded to start at the beginning and use first principles. A good place for marketers to revisit is with your most critical element... your customers.


Analyzing customers should be an early step when updating your business plan.

  • Have your key segments changed?

  • What is their ideal path to purchase?

  • How is your end to end Customer Experience (CX)?

As part of knowing your customer (KYC), strategists also need to carefully review key businesses drivers and any critical customer indicators. Re-examining the core consumer values is a critical step because disruption causes change. An obvious example is that during the pandemic, there has been a notable shift towards e-commerce and contactless services (ex. curbside pickup) in the B2C retail sector. Many consumers plan to maintain these new behaviours post-COVID, so businesses need to be prepared to meet this demand.


The second example below illustrates the ripple effect of change in the financial services sector. According to research by PMG Intelligence, 42% of Canadians aged 45-54 are not satisfied with their primary financial services providers in 2019. But now they are also experiencing heightened anxiety about Covid-19.


In financial services, as in other verticals, Canadians are increasingly seeking out brands that have “shared values” (shared values is now a top 3 buying criteria for a number of categories in the financial industry). Overall, many consumer segments are pivoting their financial decision making behaviour which is a big opportunity for credit unions and banks.


So the next question for Financial Institutions (FI’s) is how to most efficiently activate marketing programs to serve these “changed” segments? The challenge is that financial planning is a complex service and now has to be done virtually (versus in person which is the preferred method). There is a big marketing opportunity for FI’s to use smart technology to digitally target and message the “right customer with the right message”. Automated activation using algorithms (AAA approach) can become a competitive advantage for those FI’s who can practically execute this in their Martech environment.


How do marketers bring this strategy to life in a practical way? Look for expert market research partners with longitudinal data and insights that drills into personality, attitudes, and behaviour. Identifying pivot points and probabilistic paths is really useful but you (or your partners) will need some data scientists. Specialty marketing agencies can help you set up a tech stack to adjust messaging and tonality by leveraging automation.


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