In the race for buyers’ attention marketers cannot escape the law of diminishing returns and must start thinking about value, not volume.

That’s the view of Marketo CEO Steve Lucas, who was speaking at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco last week.

Marketers need to start embracing the fact they are no longer able to prescribe the terms of the relationship with their buyers no matter how much they spend, Lucas told the audience.

“This is the age of the buyer. The buyer has a louder voice than the brand — and to be clear that will never change. There was a day where we could take our marketing budget and outspend the voice of the buyer. That day is gone and it is never coming back,” Lucas said.

With budgets to spend and goals to meet, marketers are grappling with profound changes to consumer behaviour and finite attention spans.

“Digital marketing has been incredibly effective to date. So what do we do with digital marketing? We invest more and we invest more. But the reality is that as we invest more, we run into a second fundamental law: the law of diminishing returns.”

“We have reached the point where volume is losing its ability to help build our brands and drive revenue. In fact, the more volume that we send out — that law of diminishing returns — has the potential to turn negative.”

Lucas has also argued that marketers need to reassess the metrics they and their bosses value. Volume left unchecked, in the form of endless emails and constant ads, can damage brands.

“It’s not just that volume is making marketing less effective, it’s really more than that, volume actually creates risk of doing damage to our brands. It’s one of the things that buyers tune out. And increasingly we are seeing our buyers fundamentally opt-out, not because they dislike the brand, they dislike the volume,” Lucas said.

“They don’t want to feel like they are being sold to and all this means is that we have to stop applying the old thinking and the old practices to our new reality. And remember this: in this hyper-accelerated digital jungle that we are now in, buyers still want to be marketed to.”

“Our engagements over time need to be more scarce and frankly more valuable,” Lucas said.

Instead marketers should strive to carefully curate the experience for the buyer. Which Lucas admits isn’t happening at scale today.

“We know creating a beautifully curated experience is not happening today at scale, it’s not. There are too many martech products out there and too many salestech products out there.”

Marketo is heavily pushing the message of the engagement economy, which underpins the product development of its engagement platform. 

“Engagement is not transactional it is transformational. Put another way, it means we must embrace the fact that the finite supply, the fixed supply of attention is not going to expand overnight just magically creating more market for us. Instead we must give everything we have as marketers, every ounce every passion of what we have as marketers to making our small share of that massive global attention as meaningful as possible to our buyer and to us.”

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