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Insight/ Strategic Planning

10 Marketing Leaders Speak Out At Marketing 360 Exchange Conference


by Steven Cook
Fortune CMO

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I’d like to introduce you to 10 people and another special guest who, for now, I’ll call SAM. The 10 people are brand-building and consumer-engagement thought leaders I think you should know. I spent time with each one of them earlier this month at IQPC’s second “Marketing 360 Exchange,” in San Francisco. IQPC is a global organization that delivers C-level thought leadership events, including the issues and challenges that today’s CMOs face. More than 100 CMOs and agency partners from 50-plus global and North America-based B2C and B2B enterprises attended the Marketing 360 Exchange conference, whose theme was “Unlocking The Profitability and Effectiveness of Consumer-Centric Marketing.”

Liz Miller, vice president of the CMO Council, the event’s knowledge partner, served as CFO—chief facilitating officer. She kicked off our two-day journey with a few CMO Council research stats from its most recent 2011 studies of leading CMOs:

  • A total of 83% of CMOs/senior brand marketers say they face change-resistant corporate cultures.
  • Marketing mandates are to drive top-line growth (47%), grow and retain market share (46%), and push for stronger  customer intelligence (26%).

Then Liz, in her very special way, kicked the attendees in the head: “We need to relearn how to listen. Many of us have been flying blind as consumers have migrated to social media to talk and learn about our brands and share their real experiences and expectations. We need to stop collecting . . . and start doing. As you are going to hear from our keynoters and panelists, the time is now to . . . be fearless and unapologetic. You were hired to be brilliant . . . and because you ARE brilliant . . . go for it!”

Now, for that other guest who I referred to as SAM. Well, SAM is going to become your new BBFF—“Brand Best Friend Forever.” SAM is my “flip” on what we all grew up hearing as brand marketers—that it’s all about the “art and science of marketing.” The new world we live in as consumers, and work in as professional brand builders and consumer-engagement experts, has flipped. It’s not a bad thing, though. I actually think it’s a great thing to shift your perspective, focus, and approach. So meet your new BBFF, SAM, the “Science & Art of Marketing.”

Join me, now, for a recap of insights from 10 very provocative thinkers and doers who spoke from the main stage at the event and in one-on-one interviews with me. These leading marketing thinkers are already BBFFs with SAM.  

Shift Your Focus From ‘Consumer-Centric’ To ‘Consumer-Eccentric’
Sense Worldwide's Jeremy Brown, CEO, and Brian Millar, director of strategy, got the conference rolling with a bit of Jiu-Jitsu on the “consumer-centric” conference theme during their “Marketing Transformation Strategy: Becoming A Consumer-Eccentric Business” keynote.

Sense Worldwide seeks out extreme consumers, what some might label “eccentric and out there” consumers, for some of the world's most innovative companies. We’ve all seen these kinds of consumers during our marketing careers; we just did not pay much attention to them. Jeremy and Brian shared some of their eccentric adventures, as well as the unexpected insights and results their approach has generated for their Fortune 1000 global clients. A key takeaway for me was that “the future is here now . . . it is just not that well-distributed yet.”

Jeremy started off by asking the audience: “Are you a saddle maker in the age of the Model T Ford? Sense Worldwide believes you might be. Consumers are demanding transformative leaps with every new product. When Apple launched the iPhone 4S last year, they said it was cheaper, twice as fast, had a second camera, and a radical new voice-control system. Apple's share price dropped 5 percent on the news. It wasn't innovative enough. If it can happen to Apple, it can happen to you.

“Fortunately, you can learn from the one saddle maker that prospered in the machine age. It transformed itself thanks to two extreme customers: the Prince of Wales and the owner's wife. They demanded new products like jackets and handbags. They forced the company to change. That company was Hermès, and today it has a market cap of over €10bn. Sense Worldwide believes that you can harness the power of extreme consumers to transform your business, too.”

Brian continued: “Average consumers can tell you how your current products and services are doing. But they are often resistant to change. They will give you insights from the center of the bell curve. That is commodity territory, and there is very little value that will come out of this. Instead, you have to look for extreme consumers. Fashion houses know this. They have to transform themselves every six months. Every great fashion designer has a muse—a fashionista who dresses radically, who follows his or her own instincts, not the crowd. Sense Worldwide says: Who is the muse for your business?

“For Harley-Davidson, it was extreme bikers, customizers, devotees of the brand who'd ride across America to HOG (Harley Owners Group) rallies. Then its head of styling, Willie G. Davidson, grandson of one of the founders, brought these eccentric bikers into the heart of the design process. The result? Harley introduced the revolutionary and raw 1977 FXS Low Rider, which outsold every other model in Harley’s offering in its first year. Nineteen seventy-seven was the start of turning the much beloved brand around from bankruptcy to where it is today—worth more than $10 billion.”  

I can personally relate to this story, since I am a long-time Harley-Davidson fan and have owned a Harley for 30 years. Think about the brands that you love. Listen to them and learn from them. You might be an eccentric yourself. Go find your brand eccentrics, and then listen and learn from them.

For more insights into Sense Worldwide, read this Harvard Business Review story, which showcases its co-creation techniques with eccentric consumers and Fortune 1000 brands.

Don’t Be ‘Data Rich’ But ‘Insight Poor’
Raj Sen, group manager, Customer Analytics, at Adobe Systems, led a work session titled “Using Customer Analytics to Optimize your Acquisition, Conversion & Retention Activities.” Raj kicked his workshop off with a statement that reflects the painful reality we live with today as CMOs: “The amount of enterprise data is exploding, fueled by the rise of multimedia, social media, and continued growth of the Internet. CMOs are particularly influenced by the emergence of Big Data, which offers a whole new category of information and information-processing capabilities that are changing the kinds of questions marketers can ask and have answered. Today, a fundamental role of the CMO is to capitalize on the complexity of Big Data. In billions of chats, blogs, e-mails, mobile phone calls, and social networks, consumers are talking about every business and organization. Somewhere in this massive conversation are shouts, whispers, clicks, and purchases that will determine each company’s success or failure.”

According to Raj: “Many organizations are data-rich, but insight-poor. Marketers today must transform available data into feasible, immediate action plans. The notion of turning data into real-time insight, and insight into instant action, is a common and growing theme.”

Another challenge mentioned by Raj is that “enterprises must collect all customers’ behavioral information, not only from online interactions, but also from inbound, offline channels, such as point-of-sale retail systems and call centers, which are typically fragmented and stored in many different silos. All of this Big Data, then, needs to be consolidated into a single analysis infrastructure in order to provide a 360-degree view of each customer. Using the right customer analytics solution, you can then attribute online activities to offline conversion (and vice versa), establishing an accurate picture of visitor conversion and the affects of campaign investment. This enables true customer segmentation, taking into account all data attributes and activities that empower the leap to customer-centric marketing. Ultimately, you will improve all your acquisition, conversion, and retention activities.”

For more on how CMOs are dealing with the issues Raj talked about, read “Big Data: The Next Frontier For CMOs.”  

Next Page: Time to embrace the "Interest Graph." 


Go From ‘Social Graph’ To The ‘Interest Graph’
Lisa Pearson, vice president of global marketing at Bazaarvoice, offered a compelling keynote on “Customer Intelligence: Marketing’s Role In The Social Data Revolution.” She opened by challenging the audience to “turn your insights into action . . . and turn your data into doing!”

Lisa continued: “We marketers are living in turbulent times. Our CEOs are demanding more from marketing. More efficiency and more contribution across the organization. Our customers have changed the way they behave. They want to interact with us all the time in places we’re not even aware of. They expect responses, and they expect us to take action and do things differently.

“Millennials are hitting their stride and, by 2017, they will have more purchasing power than any generation in history. Their reliance on social disrupts all areas of business. They’re constantly connected, endlessly curious about what others are doing, and it flows right into how they shop. As early social media adopters, they often understand social better than the brands trying to reach them. So Millennials make their own rules of commerce—and it’s time for brands to catch up . . . or perish.

“And GenXers and Boomers are actually unknowingly mimicking Millennials in the way they shop and buy, which leads to massive multigenerational change for marketers.

“So, if you stand back and look at this chaos, there is an emerging opportunity to do what companies have always wanted to do: put their customers at the center of business. The opportunity in these new tools and customer behaviors is for us to be able to have a relevant, responsive relationship with customers and have it at scale. A further opportunity for us as marketers is to own that customer relationship. The key to unlocking all of this is social data is a valuable new layer. It’s the true authentic voice of our customer, and it is in real time.

“Despite the obvious value it can provide, social data is totally underutilized. Most CMOs are leveraging social data for brand awareness only. We’re not recognizing its full potential. We’re hoarding the data and not sharing across our business. Social data can help us be much more effective marketers, allowing us to protect our company’s reputation, to create more resonant advertising, and to deliver the most personal experience possible for our customers. As marketers, it is our job to make sure our messages resonate and will motivate customers to buy.

“We’re always looking for a more credible way to connect with our customers. To be really effective at marketing requires understanding the shift from the social graph to the interest graph. We’ve seen a lot of companies embracing the social graph in the last year or two. The social graph is basically the map of connections between people—your friends and family. It’s your ability to see what your friends have shared within Google search results or what your friends are listening to on Spotify from your Facebook activity stream.

“But the interest graph is becoming more and more important. The interest graph is basically another dimension of your social presence. It’s the connection between people and the things they care about and talk about—their preferences. Essentially, what brands need to realize is this: For many things in life, we’re not really looking to people we know to inform our decisions. We’d actually prefer the recommendations of total strangers, as long as they share our interests, use cases, or situation.

“As consumers start to gravitate toward the interest graph, companies need to rebalance as well. Some of the simpler things you can do include robust sorting by use case, geo, and past-purchase analysis. But, at its heart, interest graph data is the kind of social data that can tell you what your customers care about, not who they’re connected to. Smart brands are finding that using authentic conversations about brands from real people in their advertising is a powerful way to leverage the interest graph to create more authentic advertising.”

Lisa concluded her enlightening talk with this: “The Holy Grail of marketing is to have a current and really vivid picture of your customer and then use this detailed knowledge to deliver the most personalized experience possible. And it turns out that, through social data, our customers are actually telling us who they are and what they want from our brands, making us more effective marketers. But being better marketers is just the beginning of the journey. The bigger payoff is when social data is integrated across the organization. This payoff shows itself as increased sales, decreased customer-service costs, and accelerated innovation. Who wouldn’t want to be better both at marketing and contribute more meaningfully across our organizations?”

For more from Lisa and Bazaarvoice, please check out this Webinar. 

It’s Time To Harness Facebook Timeline
I had the privilege to finally meet Hope Frank, CMO of Webtrends, whom I’ve known virtually forever through LinkedIn. Hope is a Silicon Valley veteran. Over some robust Bay Area coffee, Hope shared this with me: “Facebook Timeline is a major milestone for the social site and for CMOs. The features and functions are aimed at sophisticated advertisers and big brands. For CMOs, it’s about creating engagements on Facebook that will lead to conversions—and creating campaigns whose ROI can be better tracked and managed.”

Hope went on to discuss three strategies she recommends her fellow CMOs think about:

  • Be A Hero: “Apps will no longer be the default destination for visitors to branded sites. Fans and new visitors alike will now land on the Timeline, and their first experience of your brand is a large 850px by 315px cover photo that appears above the fold. That ‘hero’ shot better be delicious and amazing. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  • Get People Talking: “Ads will now essentially be replaced by sponsored stories, meaning brands must find ways to drive compelling, effective word-of-mouth, share-worthy content.”
  • Real-Time Relevance: “There's no better way to know whether that content is hot or not than real-time analytics. In the past, Facebook Insights data was between 2 and 5 days old, on average, which is not ideal for driving the most relevant content to visitors right when they need it. That data will now be real-time, which means brands can evaluate the effectiveness of their posts the moment they publish them. If it's hot, then they can create sponsored stories from them. If they're not, then it's time to post again. Either way, marketers will learn about what's most relevant to their customers in real-time. Real-time relevance—it's not just the future for Facebook, it's the future of digital marketing.”

For more insights from Hope, please read “fMC: Facebook’s First Marketing Conference—Recap and Announcements.”

Next Page: Time to seize top-notch analytical tools.  


Smart Casino Marketers Don’t Roll The Dice To Win
Jeffrey Boorjian, vice president of marketing for Caesars Entertainment, gave a keynote on “Marketing Effectiveness & Accountability: Driving Incremental Revenue Through Innovative Analytics” that I would not have expected from a casino and entertainment company. You would have thought Jeffrey was someone from P&G talking about how he learns about his consumers to build brand love and loyalty . . . and relevance that leads to revenue.

Jeffrey said: “Succeeding in a highly competitive business industry demands top-notch analytics and continuous learning to grow profits. We marketers must strive to evolve our test-and-control experiments and apply cutting-edge analytical tools to measure the profitability of our marketing practices. In addition, it is imperative to develop customized tools to understand the revenue increase of offers so that we can ensure our marketing reinvestment is profitable and incremental in the long-term.

“These robust analytical tools are essential to aid marketers to address the following:

  • customize marketing offers to better match customer demand;
  • understand the incremental nature and loyalty of strategies deployed; and
  • establish capabilities to better forecast customers’ behavior before they act.”

After hearing Jeffrey’s talk, I’d place my marketing chips on him and Caesars Entertainment any day.

‘Know Me’ Or ‘No Me’
Sandra Zoratti, vice president of marketing at Ricoh, was among the panelists who discussed “Leveraging Marketing Insights and Analytics To Achieve Customer Revenue Optimization.” According to Sandra: “If you are like me, then you are a marketer who has a serious love-hate relationship with data. Why? Because 50 percent of consumers state that their No. 1 reason for brand defection is irrelevance. I like to think of this as real-time relevance—‘Know Me’ or  ‘No Me.’ And irrelevance stems from static marketing done in the absence of data-driven customer insights. Who can afford to lose customers, especially in these tough economic times? Not me.

“Shockingly, many marketers have yet to embrace the use of data, since at least 60 percent of marketing is still based on static approaches. True leading-edge marketers are now using rich data to leverage deep customer insights for enhanced customer engagement. And it shows in their measurable marketing outcomes. Real results from real companies produce two-, three-, and four-digit ROI improvements and a minimum of 2X revenue upticks for data-driven marketing vs. spray-and-pray marketing.  

“The bottom line is that data has changed marketing. Irreversibly. Leveraging data is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ but rather a ‘must-have’ in every marketer’s tool kit. The challenge is that data is daunting. The truth is that we all have data skeletons in our closet. And the skeletons are ugly and complex. Siloed data. Inaccurate data. Inaccessible data. Duplicate data. Leveraging data to drive customer insights is, at the very least, messy.

“Like every great challenge, the results are worth it, and the path forward is a journey—not a flip of the switch. It is a journey on which all of us marketers must embark one step at a time. The most important step is your first step. Take one small step forward applying data-driven insights to one campaign with one goal and measure the results.”

For more insights from Sandra, please read this Q&A with Sandra on Direct Marketing News.

A Bank You Could Love More Than Money. Really?
Alan Gellman, head of digital marketing at Wells Fargo, was a panelist discussing the topic “Building The Ultimate Customer Experience: Engage At Every Stage With Mobile And Social.”

Alan kicked it off by stating: “Success for tomorrow’s CMO comes down to two things: building relationships and building a team of integrators. Whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space, you have to build relationships. Now, customers might not use that language, but, in order to win, there always has to be an emotional connection. A relationship. At Wells Fargo, it’s about building lifelong relationships one customer at a time.

“In that context, social media and mobile aren’t really new. Technology simply makes it easier for us to grow our relationships through customer engagement, anytime, anywhere, and through whatever channels our customers want. Sometimes we’re engaging through creating a flash mob in Times Square as part of our merger with Wachovia, or interacting with servicing questions on Twitter, or making it easier to do banking on the go with our mobile apps. And, often, of course, we’re having face-to-face conversations with our customers in our 9,000 stores.

“For CMOs to be successful, they’re also going to need a team of integrators. That is, they need marketers who understand both online and offline, brand building and performance marketing. And, increasingly important, they and their teams need to integrate marketing and technology while focusing on ROI. Tomorrow’s new CMO will have the greatest success by bringing together this focus on relationships with a team that knows how to integrate in this rapidly evolving space.”

Can You Hear Me Now? Does A 10X Increase In Revenue Interest You?
Dave Lawson, director of mobile engagement for Knotice, was one of the leading-edge agency partners at the event. Dave told me: “The biggest takeaway for me from the conference was hearing most, if not all, speakers discussing no lack of data availability for the touches they have with their customers and prospects. The key issue is how to develop informed strategic insights and actions from it all. As an example, one of our clients, Oreck, adopted a customer-focused approach to communication and data. As a result, they generated a 10X increase in revenue.”

Dave generously provided access to this Forrester Research white paper, “The New Messaging Mandate,” which highlights Oreck, as well as other early adopters in mobile.

‘Keeping It Real’ Has Relationship And Revenue Benefits
Dwayne Chambers, CMO at Krispy Kreme, brought us back full circle with both hot insights and hot and tasty Krispy Kreme donuts. Really! Dwayne’s keynote, ”Social Showdown: Which Platforms Are Providing The Best MROI?” entertained and informed us about the very genuine 75-year journey of the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts brand, and what it did to become deeply seated in the hearts and minds—and bellies—of its brand fans.  

Dwayne said: “When we fully understand and live our purpose daily—to touch and enhance lives through the joy that is Krispy Kreme—we can feel comfortable allowing our fans to own the brand. It is then that the brand has the best opportunity to grow and flourish. That approach allows Krispy Kreme to build positive, meaningful, and long-term relationships by making emotional connections with our team members, guests, and the communities we serve.

“Krispy Kreme was built on word-of-mouth marketing, well before the Internet and smartphones were invented. Fortunately, social media allows us to move from one-on-one to 1-on-4 million. The key for us has been authenticity. Krispy Kreme tries hard to be genuine, real, and transparent in everything we do and say. That transparency symbolically starts in our shops, where a huge window allows our guests to see everything we do, every ingredient we use, and every one of our team members. We strive to be as open and transparent in all aspects of our business and brand.

For us it is pretty simple: Know who we are, live our purpose, focus on others, and stay transparent. If we do, we'll sell plenty of doughnuts.”

Say It Again, SAM
OK. SAM will be your new BBFF. It’s time to shift your thinking to a “Science & Art of Marketing” approach. The tipping point has already happened, and you are actually late if you haven’t been thinking and doing it this way. But the good news is that we have a wealth of early-adopter knowledge from brand-building and consumer-engagement innovators—as exemplified by the 10 marketing thought leaders you’ve just met. Let’s connect to keep learning from each other—and SAM—in real-time. Looking forward to following you @StevenCook.

--Jeffrey Boorjian, Jeremy Brown, Dwayne Chambers, Hope Frank, Alan Gellman, Dave Lawson, Brian Millar, Lisa Pearson, Raj Sen, and Sandra Zoratti contributed to this story.

About Steven Cook

Steven Cook is a 25-plus year Fortune 500 global strategic consumer brand marketer, transformational innovator, and business development exec with P&G, Coca-Cola, and most recently as Samsung Electronics SVP, CMO North America. Steven's works with entrepreneurial start-ups to Fortune 1000 companies in branded CPG, durables, lifestyle services, and digital and social media.