I took a trip this past weekend and realized that part of my travel was a good reminder of how to think of the overall customer journey. So I thought I’d take the time to tell you all one example I had from this weekend as a consumer out in the wild.

My fiance and I decided to road trip to western New York state to visit my dad at his lake house. We took a train from NYC to Beacon, NY and rented a car to make the 5 hour ride and to enjoy the fresh air and open space that rural America has to offer. It was during the first leg of our trip that I thought about how impactful digital was to our trip — not that I didn’t already know that, but I acknowledged it’s impact on a simple trip. And I also realized that my anecdotal experience was fairly representative of an average consumer experience today:

  • I had to plan ahead. I always like to turn a road trip into more than a boring car ride. And my fiance and I both like to find new, under-the-radar, food places. So, our plan was to leave the city early to give us enough time to travel, but also make a few stops along the way. That means I had to do a little research prior to our departure. I looked up our route on Google Maps, pin-pointed a few towns that we could stop in for lunch, and started my search. I began with Google search and found a bunch of restaurant listings, went to Yelp to verify if some of the places I found were good, and then went back to Google to check out if the lunch spots had websites, where they were located, etc.. After doing that for a good half hour, I decided on a few small cafes in a couple towns and jotted them down so that we had some options once we were on the road and had an idea of our timing.
  • We made our lunch decision on the fly. When you’re not in a rush, you just go with the flow, and that’s what we did. Train gets into Beacon a few minutes late? No problem. Once we were on the road and started to get a little hungry, I looked up the distance each place was, what specific kind of food they had, and made a decision. The final verdict: Buttersfield Cafe in a tiny town called Deposit, NY because it was only going to be open on the day we were driving up (which I discovered, thankfully, on Google) and had stellar reviews on Yelp from people like us (travelers passing through). Low and behold: it was an excellent choice.
  • I shared my good lunch find on Instagram. Instagram is a foodie’s heaven, so why not take part and add to the collection of food pictures. I wanted to tell the world — or rather, my friends — about my good find in the middle of nowhere. And I wanted to help this little mom and pop cafe out — maybe one of my friends will one day be passing through the southern tier of New York state, be hungry, think of my post, and head straight to Buttersfield Cafe. 🙂

So what does this have to do with marketing? A lot:

  • Technology has made it easier to find anything “near you”. Local marketing isn’t just for the mom and pop shops. Customers can now find anything, anywhere within seconds largely because of mobile devices. For any company with brick and mortar locations, you got to have your listings information (like address, phone number, hours of operation) up to date in online directories or in Google My Business – that’s tablestakes. But also think about what’s important to a consumer from a local perspective and how you can be more helpful in the information on your website or other properties.
  • Google is not the only place to do research.  In my example, I primarily used Google and Yelp to make my decision on a restaurant to choose.  Google is still vitally important for marketers, but so are the other relevant channels or websites that customers use to find more information before making a purchase or entering a store. Your job as a marketer focused on customer acquisition should be to plot out the different places customers go to to find, research, and purchase and ensure that your location, brand, or product is visible in all those places.
  • Marketing and product need to be closely aligned. What more could a marketer want than to have someone choose their product or service, enjoy it, and then post on social media about it? But the thing is, people will only share on social media when the product is great or terrible. This means, as a marketer, you need to be closely aligned with your colleagues in product to share insights and assist in research and development based off customer experiences — and search and social are good ways to tap into customer sentiment.

Nothing about my story is ground breaking. But we should all take a step back occasionally and acknowledge how much the world has changed and that marketing needs to constantly be changing with it.