The economy has reached a post-industrial stage that is changing the way consumers relate and turning all customer contact into integrated marketing.
That was a common theme at the first annual Integrated Marketing Week--powered by Econsultancy with the Direct Marketing Association--which opened Monday in New York. Speakers have included Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and marketers from companies including Google, American Airlines, Facebook, Gilt Group, Zappos, and Dell.
The industrial age is ending and is being replaced by an “experience economy,” said the opening keynote speaker, author Seth Godin.
The economy has evolved from one based on manufacturing, where marketers sell products and services, to a content-based economy built on experiences and connections, Godin said. Industries such as music, travel agencies, and publishing have been brought down by technological changes, while digital media meant to connect people are flourishing, he noted.
This means marketers have to refocus from promoting their products and brand stories and instead create experiences that let them interact with consumers across media, enabling consumers to guide the experience themselves and react in real time to events, speakers said.
“Brands are not being built the way they used to be built,” said Loren Grossman, global chief strategy officer at agency Rapp. He noted that some 100,000 brands have been launched through Kickstarter–all without advertising: “How are they doing that? Through experience,” he said.
Marketing is evolving quickly from multichannel to omnichannel to something beyond both, a few speakers said.
“We’re kind of in 'brand soup' right now,” said Michele Edelman, VP of marketing, direct to consumer, at Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
The principles of marketing haven’t changed, but the execution has to change, said Ashley Friedlein, CEO of Econsultancy, who presented a “Modern Marketing Manifesto” to the crowd. There is no “above the line” or “below the line” marketing anymore, he said. Rather, all marketing is now integrated marketing.
“The more we understand there is power in these omnichannel engagements, the more we’re going to understand this applies to a large number of companies,” Grossman said. For example, the National Football League has driven more branding power thanks to its Fantasy Football program than it has from any TV advertising it has done, he said.
Omnichannel marketing brings costs down and sells product better, Edelman said: “Large companies need to wake up and move this further.”
Modern marketing will have to be agile, flexible, and personal, speakers said. The focus on customer experience has to be “relentless,” backed with content, data, and personalization, Friedlein explained.
“The technology is there–it’s about implementing it and testing it,” Edelman said.
This will require some leaps of faith–measuring ROI remains tricky when multiple channels are integrated, and marketers must be willing to risk some failures before they find a sweet spot with consumers, several speakers said.
Marketers need to let consumers lead and create content and context, which brings up new challenges regarding internal politics within marketing organizations, attribution measurement, and staffing, speakers said.
To be successful, marketers will have to comfortable with technology, Friedlein said, citing a forecast from Gartner that predicts CMOs will spend more on information technology than chief information officers by 2017.
“If you don’t get digital, you can’t be a modern marketer,” he said. “If you’re a CMO, there’s no excuse.”
The ideal integrated marketing organization is still in the future, said Stefan Tornquist, Econsultancy’s VP of research in the U.S. He noted his company did a recent study measuring integrated marketing practices and found most marketers falling short.
There’s a new set of expectations from CMOs now, and the stakes are higher, Friedlein said. While they’re more likely to be on track to become CEOs than they used to in the past, they still get no respect, he said, noting that a recent survey from Fournaise Group found most CEOs didn’t think marketers add value to their company.
Several insiders mentioned internal politics and compensation as a continuing hurdle to true integrated marketing. It’s hard to get an executive interested in spending the marketing budget on one medium when his or her compensation is based on results from another, several speakers noted.
“The client organizations that have a culture of walking the walk, not just talking the talk. . .they naturally do integration,” said Leann Leahy, president of The Via Agency. On the other hand, organizations where there is a “climate of fear” won’t because executives are afraid to take risks, he said.
Internal tensions are the nemeses of integrated marketing, Tornquist said. The Econsultancy survey found that within the group of companies that had ineffective integrated marketing efforts, the rate of companies reporting internal political conflicts was twice as high as companies without such frictions.
But consumer attitudes show there is no going back, said speakers, who noted consumers are increasingly tuning out marketing messages.
“Consumers have shifted from accepting our ‘spray and pray’ noise,” said Ernan Roman, president of Ernan Roman Direct Marketing Corp. But they have also accepted the concept of “reciprocity of value,” and are willing to share “astonishingly deep” information if they trust a marketer will use it to create a personalized experience that’s valuable to them, he said.
“Multichannel marketing that’s not driven by individual preferences is only getting better at multichannel irritation,” Roman said.
In order to do effective integration, marketers need to set priorities and choose between channels and initiatives to avoid overkill, according to the experts. A text message pushing an offer can be seen as intrusive, but a text reminding a shopper of an offer he or she was waiting for is seen as a service, noted Jeff Howell, director of subscriber communications and engagement/CRM at Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.
And unlike traditional campaign-based efforts, integrated marketing is now a constant process of communicating with consumers back and forth, speakers said. Howell noted most of Sirius’ early growth was due to word of mouth, and those advocates are still “invaluable” to the brand.
“CRM is a journey. It’s not something you do and you’re done with,” said Charlie Shin, head of CRM and fan engagement for Major League Soccer. “There is no silver bullet.”