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By Michelle Kabele | September 19, 2022

Want Partners That Will Help Grow Your Business? Look at How They Innovate…from a Marketing Perspective

In today’s digital marketing landscape, fortune favors the bold.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain, cookies, micro-experiences, the metaverse: how should marketers make sense of today’s headlines and buzzwords?

Trends move quickly, and emerging technologies can become table stakes – or obsolete –seemingly overnight. Marketers of all sizes and across all industries are being challenged to keep up in this fast-paced environment that shows no sign of slowing down.

The surest solution is, put simply: invest in digital transformation. The time is now to be fearless and embrace technology. As we enter a new digital era known as Web3, or Web 3.0, companies will have to navigate evolving issues like data privacy regulations, cater to changing customer expectations, cut through the digital noise, and build lasting customer relationships.

But they won’t necessarily have to do it alone, and neither will you. 

There are agencies and advisors ready to help you define and execute the “perfect” marketing strategy. There are also no-cost/low-cost marketing resources that you may be able to leverage – resources offered by your business partners. (That’s just one more reason why it’s so important to choose the right partner.)

Dedicated to our Channel Partners’ Business Growth

At Zebra, we understand the difficulties in navigating the complexities of the ever-changing marketing landscape. That's why we invest heavily in developing digital tools to help augment our channel partners' marketing efforts. We also offer interactive sessions in our partners-only Marketing Mastermind program, where we bring together Zebra insiders and industry experts to help our partners keep pace with today's marketing challenges.

The latest symposium in our Marketing Mastermind program focused on digital marketing. Two of our outstanding speakers were Zebra’s Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing and Channels, Rob Armstrong, and Kelly Cutler, who is a digital strategist, Dean of Northwestern Medill School of Integrated Marketing, and a professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Business. Here are some learnings from the symposium:

- Web3 will change our relationship with technology    

Thirty years ago, the internet was a very different place. The earliest version of the consumer internet, what we now call Web 1.0 or the “read-only” web, connected users worldwide but offered digital experiences that were largely static.

 E-commerce helped introduce interactivity to the world wide web, building a bridge into the era known as Web 2.0. Also known as the "read-write" web, this period is defined mainly by the rise of social media and content-sharing platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Web 2.0 is also characterized by its centralization of data in single servers or clouds owned by just a few players. Companies have leveraged this user data to generate marketing revenue and enhance algorithms that help keep users engaged.

 Now, we are at the precipice of a new era of connectivity. Web3 promises a decentralized digital experience that relies on the blockchain, powered by users and the community rather than intermediated by businesses or governing bodies. Blockchains and decentralized apps will offer more security and more dynamic digital experiences, powered by next-generation machine learning and artificial intelligence – at least that’s the hope.

 - Data privacy and the new customer experience 

Web3 is still developing and has a long way to go. However, its impact is already reshaping customer expectations, particularly around data privacy. 

Consumers are increasingly concerned about how businesses and other entities are using their personal information and behaviors, and new regulations will likely continue to come down in favor of protecting consumer data. Meanwhile, the tech industry's shift away from cookies challenges established methods for targeted digital marketing.

Tomorrow's marketers must consider future tools and tactics now to avoid disruption to campaigns and communications, prepare to reassess strategies, and identify new opportunities to personalize customer relationships. New digital marketing technology and the advent of Web3 open more touchpoints for existing and prospective customers to enter into a direct dialogue with your company. This approach generates valuable zero-party data, defined as information freely and openly shared by customers with companies.

The direct data collected via these new one-to-one relationships can help your company get even smarter, so that you can better help customers move along to the information that will ultimately influence the next purchase, renewal, cross-sell, or deployment. Marketers can also use zero-party data to increase personalization and provide that customized experience, setting a brand's operations apart in a cookie-less and highly regulated world.

"Micro-experiences" represent an excellent opportunity to build out zero-party data and strengthen relationships with customers. Creating micro-experiences could include surveys, quizzes, or preference centers to collect specific registration data in exchange for personalized digital experiences, unique content, coupons, and giveaways. Other strategies for customizing the user experience include product recommendations, customer segmentation, market research, and improvement of performance advertising.

Integrated marketing technology is a crucial component to brand building. Marketing automation, CRM platforms, content management, chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI) are all useful and essential tools driving this new customer experience.

- Think big, but act strategically

While this moment demands organizational bravery and decisive action, long-term success requires strategic planning and careful deployment of resources. When it comes to marketing technology, this means assessing what will be a good fit for your business before jumping to invest in the next big thing. 

Great marketing combines art and science, and there is no singular formula for success. Big bets will look different for every organization. Here are some guiding principles: 

Make sure existing operations are in order and understand what has worked well from a marketing standpoint and why. It also helps to understand what hasn’t worked, as you can take away key lessons to avoid making similar mistakes as you apply new tools and tactics.

Invest in omnichannel technology across departments to improve efficiency and audience reach. Just be sure the purpose of the technology is clearly defined, and you have a thoughtful utilization plan in place. Technology doesn’t automatically drive improvements – it’s just the vehicle that allows you to get where you want to go. You still have to steer it in the right direction, at the appropriate speed and within the pre-defined lanes.

Don't be afraid to experiment and be prepared to accept change, allowing your message to evolve or pivot as needed. 

In a crowded marketplace, differentiation is the key to creating value. Help ensure your brand remains indefinitely relevant by driving forward-thinking initiatives and keeping your customers front and center.

- The adage is true: knowledge is power 

More now than ever, marketers must have a seat at the table for investment decisions about business technology. New concepts and a quickly evolving marketplace may be overwhelming, but they are not impossible to master. Working with technology to advance your efforts and achieve your goals is a life-long learning process, with new opportunities constantly arising. And the more marketers know, the more empowered their organizations will be to make bold moves.    

How We’re Empowering Our Partners to Be Effective Marketers 

Zebra is committed to strengthening our channel partners’ marketing through education. Enriching and expanding our digital capabilities together helps us all modernize our approach and expand into new routes to market. When we focus, apply our resources, and make a big bet, we can succeed and win. We want our partners to be bold and to make this big bet on digital transformation with us. 


Related Read

Ask the Expert: “How Do I Know If I’ve Found the Right (Technology) Partner?”  

Best Practices, Energy and Utilities, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Warehouse and Distribution, Transportation and Logistics, Retail, Hospitality, Banking, Public Sector,
Michelle Kabele
Michelle Kabele

Michelle Kabele is a marketing strategist, author, and digital media advocate. She currently serves as Senior Manager, Partner and Field Marketing, where she is responsible for driving Zebra’s North America channel marketing strategy, growing partner loyalty, and driving sales.

Throughout her career, Michelle has leveraged her out-of-the-box thinking and take-charge attitude to lead multiple high-visibility marketing initiatives and develop award-winning channel partner programs. Her innovative channel marketing concepts have been adapted and implemented by companies that include Zebra, Motorola Solutions, Avaya, 3Com, and U.S. Robotics.

Michelle has an innate understanding of and passion for the marketing potential offered by social networking, viral video, e-communications, and other electronic media. Beyond this passion also lies a shrewd appreciation of the power and place of traditional media in the marketing mix. Her ability to combine the two into highly effective strategies has been particularly beneficial to her stakeholders over the years.

Michelle has authored several books and dozens of articles on marketing topics and creative thinking. She has also produced a series of podcasts and videos on effective marketing strategies.

As a lifelong learner, Michelle holds an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a BA from Northwestern University. She is also a degree candidate for the Medill MS in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University.

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