A Transitional Path for Transformational Marketers

Stronger Consumer Connections Start with Steps, Not Leaps, in 2024

Matt Wurst, Kazm CMO

Marketing trends evolve as rapidly as social media feeds refresh. And it’s only getting faster, as a few weeks of immersion can feel like a journey through a constantly shifting landscape. 

Which makes annual planning feel more and more like a guessing game, if not a fool’s errand. Could anyone have accurately foreseen the multitude of changes that 2023 would bring? Amidst the whirlwind of insights gained after the past few months of conferences, summits, and networking events, the resounding theme of uncertainty is prevalent.

Marketers are reevaluating their pursuit of the elusive "transformation" as it becomes an ongoing evolution rather than a one-time revolution. The demands of chasing AI solutions, tracking influencers, navigating TikTok regulations, and grappling with vanishing cookies have left them exhausted. And with CFOs telling their CMOs to cut their budgets over the next few years, it's essential that marketers take increasingly cliche words like “transformation” out of their vocabulary and focus on proving how KPIs drive business outcomes. 

McKinsey research reveals that many businesses only reap less than one third of the revenue benefits they expect after they launch some sort of a "digital transformation."

Instead, 2024 calls for a more realistic and pragmatic approach, one that focuses on a continuous journey of transition and iteration. This subtle shift in mindset will reshape the marketing landscape while arming marketers with strategies to future-proof in a world that never stands still.

This path is not only more manageable and adaptable, but it's also remarkably persuasive to both internal stakeholders and to consumers. It's built on community feedback, it's self-correcting, and it empowers brands and marketers to get started quickly and zero in on what works. This approach takes a page from the technology startup playbook over the past two decades, where launching with a "minimally viable product" (MVP) became widely adopted. Companies like Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, Slack, and Zapier scaled up with a valuable, yet imperfect, product for user engagement that paved the way for feedback that guides future iterations.

No Longer Chasing the Shiny New Object

Several things have NOT changed for brand marketers. A consumer-centric, benefits-led set of priorities still drives product and marketing plans. The existential need to reduce acquisition costs while operationalizing efficiency to reduce overhead remains critical. The same holds true for rewarding brand loyalty, bolstering emotional connections, and incentivizing community advocacy to improve the enduring value of a consumer.

Until now, reshaping loyalty programs, platforms, and strategies would have required multi-year transformations. So what is the easiest step to take now that allows us to transition towards an “MVP and iterate" model with feedback instead of planning and launching a huge change that needs to be perfect? Would you be surprised if I said the answer is NOT web3?

If your LinkedIn feed resembles mine, you've likely noticed blockchain-based startups putting all their efforts into convincing brands that blockchain is the immediate solution. It's undoubtedly a long-term answer, but brands aren't ready to flip the switch overnight. Even so-called "experimental" Web3 loyalty programs are attracting Web3 enthusiasts, not genuine brand loyalists.

Over the last decade, the gap (chasm?) that exists between truth and perception about blockchain has been one of the biggest barriers to more widespread adoption. For “mainstream” marketers and consumers, the awareness of blockchain use cases and applications have been limited to connected supply chain tracker, cryptocurrency, and as a platform for trendy collectibles. For a select few, it has bridged physical and virtual realms. The reality is that blockchain has improved performance, ease of use, and security for all of those use cases. 

Without a doubt, blockchain has inspired marketers with some exciting, eye-catching opportunities that grabbed attention, while also giving us a glimpse into the potential for a bright future. Now some engineers are swiftly pivoting to leverage blockchain as THE backbone for brand loyalty. But a crucial lesson from the first phase of “Blockchain Buzz” is that it's not a one-size-fits-all solution for every existing challenge.

For the year ahead (or at least the foreseeable future), thinking of blockchain as an important accessory, not yet an entire fashion makeover, is most pragmatic. Kind of like a stylish belt that can tie some things together, it's a piece of the puzzle, not yet the complete ensemble. Similarly, a transitional approach to brand loyalty pulls together blockchain benefits with the familiar, flexible fundamentals of established, centralized platforms.

Step It Up, Don't Shake It Up

While most loyalty programs are tied to on-site, in-app, or ecommerce-based rewards, many marketers talk about transformation without even considering how loyalty programs need to be adapted. They overlook opportunities to incentivize some of the most valuable customer behaviors within this evolving landscape and fall FAR short in connecting all of the touchpoints where brands and consumers connect. 

Today's consumers inhabit a world where social media and virtual games are their playgrounds. Loyalty programs must adapt to these new consumer channels and behaviors, first and foremost. And marketers are rethinking the ways the engage in culture, incentivize actions, and cultivate communities.

That same McKinsey article highlights three key factors for success: using digital technology for customer engagement and innovation, developing proprietary assets like, and integrating tech-savvy executives into the organization.

Embracing change is vital for marketers, but let's not rush too quickly. Steps, not leaps. While the future may hold exciting opportunities on the blockchain, let's take it one step at a time. It's akin to gradually introducing bold fashion choices into your wardrobe without causing a style shock.

Start by integrating social channel behaviors into existing programs. It will be more meaningful and impactful to start with platforms in which you have the most confidence and the most consumer involvement, then get feedback and add more platforms. That could be Instagram and TikTok, Spotify, and Roblox. This approach meets consumers where they are, incentivizes and rewards behaviors they're already engaging in, and can even attract influencers and affiliates. Beyond just rewarding purchases, brands can now encourage consumers to connect and share social profile information, post content, tag brands, participate in challenges, and build a connected loyalty before transitioning to open loyalty.

Then the next step can integrate blockchain as a smart accessory to enhance the effectiveness of your existing loyalty program. It offers transparency, collaborative interoperability, security, and engagement—essential elements in today's marketing landscape.

New Year, New(ish) You

As 2024 is here, and brand loyalty takes center stage, platforms like Kazm already provide ALL of these options. There's no need to work with a multitude of companies, each specializing in either transaction-based programs or diving headfirst into Web3 in a narrow aspect of blockchain-only opportunities. And there’s no need to undertake a massive, transformational planning process.

Our solutions are designed to scale as new channels and behaviors emerge. We make it easy to launch new membership and rewards programs, starting small, adding layers, and adapting and learning as you go.

Ready to take that first step together? 

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