The Modern Marketing Organization
The modern marketing organization looks and behaves differently, as well. It’s not an advertising factory. Nor is it the loose collection of marketing and communications disciplines intended to intercept people from “360 degrees.” All disciplines must be data-driven or, at least, data-informed. Data tells us how marketing really works. We design communications programs around how journalists use information. Content marketing sparks sharing or the data tells us it isn’t relevant. We optimize the effectiveness of digital advertising by pulling data-connected levers in near-real-time. Integrated marketing doesn’t just connect marcom disciplines long overdue for alignment, it ensures they are responding to similar data, insights and, ultimately, the customer.
This is about what it means to walk-the-walk today of the modern chief marketing officer and organization. While ‘digital’ is certainly a part of that experience as is data, speed-to-market and so much more, it is not defined by any one of these. The job of the marketing organization, in the appropriated words of David Ogilvy, is to “sell or else.” How a leading marketing organization does that today is very different than fifty years ago.
1. Embrace new digital behaviors
No question that the growing ability to move information across digital networks has and will change our behaviors profoundly. We shop differently. We trust differently. We make decisions differently. In some cases these may be small, additive changes (we still look to an insurance agent to explain our choices even while we research those choices ahead of time via Google). In some cases these will be fundamental and disruptive changes. Predicting which will be which or the speed of change is hard. One tip for actually understanding these changes better? Embrace these new habits within your organization. Employees should be encouraged to interact with the brand and its customers online. How else will we understand these new digital behaviors if not by practicing them ourselves?
2. It’s a buyer’s journey
Hoping to romance and sway customers at the point of purchase alone will not win. We need to recognize that buyers telegraph their intent earlier and earlier in the journey towards buying something. And that their/our needs are different when we are understanding a problem or need, gathering information or are actually ready to buy. Marketers must adopt the fundamental principle of designing marketing around the customer journey. Understanding what a prospect or customer is trying to get done or decide that leads to initially discovering your product is a very different proposition than prompting them to pick your product now.
Mining data for insights and actions
Big data, little data – what we really need are more actionable insights from data and ways to trigger actions based upon data and insights. Data science is hard. While it takes more geeky collaborators than the creatives who bring advertising ideas to life it is hardly an exact science nor does it need to be. Direct marketers believe the customer can be instrumented to the point of becoming a truly predictable wind-up doll. Or more accurately, they live and die by the numbers with little concern for the prospect or customer save for the action they wish to stimulate. The modern CMO never loses sight nor compassion for the customer. They see data and insights as a better way to empower a test-and-learn marketing machine.
5. Designed for testing and agility
Building a marketing organization that can plan and create fast while turning on a dime isn’t as it easy as it might appear. It takes the A/B testing methodology of direct marketers, the ability to create content, not just advertisements, quickly and in response to data, and the discipline of deciphering performance immediately. Think about how that affects review and approval cycles. Creative and content are now never “perfect” but simply ready-to-publish. In short, it changes everything.
6. A culture of collaboration
No one discipline rules the roost and the only way to ‘punch above your weight’ in a world gone made with ad spend is to plan integrated programs and get every discipline to work together. Planning models can help. Fostering a culture where people are rewarded for collaborating with a method of working by which the best collaborators become the best marketers makes all of the difference.
7. The addressable individual
Not all that long ago, we talked about building addressable audiences. Brands did that through their social channels and through partnering with mysterious companies in the ad stack that could create and maintain custom audiences. Meanwhile, the customer experience team defined an ambition to treat every customer as an individual promising to deliver increasingly personalized services relevant to the individual. The addressable individual – whether they are an existing customer or a prospect – is clearly where we are heading. That means thousands or millions, depending on your business, of micro-segments and ultimately individuals getting customized treatment from the brand. What IBM and Salesforce label “the connected customer” where we evolve past segments to addressing individuals will require a lot of technology and technology mastery to execute.
8. Being of Use
With an onslaught of media choices, channels, shows, messages and more, the one thing none of us have enough of is time. Marketers cannot hope to sell through interruptive advertising. It just won’t break through. We need to learn how we can be of-use to people such that we deliver welcome value. Great content, better or more complete service, personalized value and even discounts, even new products can all address genuine consumer needs. We can shift from an annoying “push” model of marketing to a “pull” model where even our marketing becomes a welcome contribution.
9. Content marketing
Content is at the heart of the “pull” ambition for brands. Can we create useful and/or entertaining content that connects with people at the right moments in their journey as customers (customers-to-be)? Most organizations can create the white paper, the how-to video series, even the entertaining content partnership (or more realistically, the content ‘sponsorship’). Building a content culture and machine inside the marketing function is a lot harder. As with many good ideas, the devil is in the doing (or the details of the doing). Applying a data-driven approach where speed-to-publish matters more than creating the one perfect communication is hard. It’s not just a process shift with different job functions (e.g. editors and writers) but a culture shift as to what gets approved and out the door.
10. Reducing friction
It is difficult to draw lines between a marketer’s job and those directly responsible for a seamless and friction-free customer experience. As marketers shift from pure ad messages to creating content that is valuable to prospects and customers alike, they inevitably will think about ways to reduce the friction people experience when doing any kind of business with a brand. It can be reducing a few button-clicks in a process, standardizing form design, providing some useful how-to content. Every service interaction has the potential to strengthen a relationship and drive advocacy or do just the opposite.
11. Relentlessly accountable
Building brand for brand’s sake only makes sense in the most marketing-centric of companies. For most other companies, we want to know how marketing drives sales-related metrics. That requires getting more complex attribution models, combining online and offline data, and subscribing to the customer journey planning model. Most modern marketers know they need a “dashboard” – that magical interface that funnels all marketing and sales data into some natural synthesis. Fewer start by designing the measurement model that will facilitate marketing investment decision-making and performance optimization. This step ensures that the dashboard displays meaning not just data.