Remain in the status quo, and you’ll find yourself outrun by the competition and unloved by your customers. This seems to be the main theme emerging from the “Marketing Innovations” track, which took place on 10th and 11th May at Adobe Summit EMEA 2017 in London (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).
During this track, industry experts from a wide variety of brands and backgrounds discussed how they were pushing things forward by using innovative marketing strategies and technology while keeping the customer experience as the central focus.
Modernising A Cultural Monolith
Emma Scott, chief executive of Beano Studios, discussed how Beano is bringing the 80-year-old comic into the future by developing the brand experience beyond the page with Beano Studios—a digital platform and content studio that brings together all of its products and channels. The mantra behind the modern, digital-first Beano is “Think More Kid.” The world for children shouldn’t have boundaries, rules, or conformity, and neither should any of Beano’s products.
A major part of this understanding is recognising that Beano must target the generation directly following Generation Z called Generation Alpha. This generation has only ever known tablets—75% of them own a tablet and these children spend more time online than watch television. This will be the biggest consumer group the world has ever seen, but there is also another key consideration that Scott implores us to take note of: “Generation Alpha kids are sick of their millennial parents constantly checking their phones.” Maybe this generation will rebel against the online world? As Scott speculates, “maybe we’re looking at a new hippie generation?”
Where Human Meets Digital
After a disappointing hotel stay a number of years ago, Tamara Lohan MBE, CTO and co-founder of Mr & Mrs Smith, realised that a memorable break is all about the experience. Whether it’s a custom-made UFO in a forest, or sleeping next to a glacier, it’s all about challenging the status quo. But the company has a number of huge problems: travel is a highly competitive industry, which is extremely complex and has customers who are highly sought after and who are conditioned to carry out more than 20 searches before making a booking.
So how does Mr & Mrs Smith become both the first click and last click? Lohan’s philosophy is: “Don’t just serve intent, but create it.” Mr & Mrs Smith does this by developing customer trust and creating original content around extraordinary yet accessible experiences. As an example of this, Mr & Mrs Smith invites its members to its Boutique Hotel Awards, which are far removed from industry-based stuffy functions (one award category is “Sexiest Bedroom”), and customers are invited to mingle among the hotel owners, celebrities, and DJs. As Lohan states: “In a world of disconnection, disintermediation, dislocation, customer trust isn’t freely given—it’s earned. It’s where the human meets the digital connection that a meaningful relationship is made.”
Profiting From The Truth
Serial entrepreneur BJ Cunningham set out to disrupt the tobacco industry, which has one overriding problem: health. “Cigarettes are the only legally available consumer product that will kill you when used exactly as they are intended.” The tobacco industry has failed to solve this problem and is merely avoiding it by “sticking its head in the sand.” Cunningham is a self-professed “gentle libertarian” who rails against prohibition and believes that consumers have the right to be presented with the facts and to be given the freedom to make their own decision.
In this polemical issue, Cunningham found an opportunity by developing a new brand with a unique promise—the truth. He used the fact that smoking kills to create a brand of cigarettes called “Death,” which included a skull & crossbones as its logo. Tobacco companies traditionally say “smoking damages health,” but that’s not the whole truth. Smoking kills, and that’s exactly what Death cigarettes tell you. Cunningham developed a way to bring customers into a journey by giving away 10% of pre-tax profits to cancer research. Cancer research needs money, Death cigarettes need money, the government needs money—it’s a cycle that customers can be a part of, if they choose to smoke and have full knowledge of what this will inevitably lead to.
The Power Of Empathy
Empathy is something we rarely talk about when it comes to marketing or the experience business, but the emotional impact a company has on its people and society is something that can directly correlate with growth, earnings, and productivity. Belinda Parmar, OBE, chief executive of The Empathy Business, helps businesses to understand the power of empathy, which is useful in an age where millennials want more meaning and purpose from the companies they deal with. The number of jobs a Generation X’er will have is four, but for a digital native it’s 20. Companies need more equality, care, and compassion in their organisations in order to attract, and retain, future employees. Empathy can help drive this unity in an organisation.
One example given by Parmar from her own client is a simple change in language when it comes to Head Office and Front Line—a relationship that can often be adversarial. By changing Head Office to Support Hub and Front Line to Front of House, you can remove the air of superiority from the management and the military terminology from customer-facing employees, and create a deeper and more supportive understanding between the teams.
Three Tech Trends That Will Shape Everyone’s Future
Technology changes society whether we like it or not, so it’s imperative to understand where tech innovations are heading. Although you may not be proud of the fact you looked at your mobile phone before you talked to someone you loved this morning, you may be glad to find out that we’re moving away from screen-based tech and adding more human interaction to the mix. LJ Rich, BBC Click's technology presenter and musician, discussed “deep experiences” where humans will step beyond the computer and immerse themselves within innovative approaches to storytelling. For instance, algorithmic cinema where your vital signs control where the narrative goes depending on how bored or excited you are.
Rich also talked about the “tactile internet,” where we can send and receive more than just pictures and audio, but touches, hugs, and physical products. Altered reality is another frontier to be crossed, where seamless visual authenticity mixes with immersive experience. Then there’s sensing technology, where your washing machine would know it was breaking down, order its own part, and book an engineer before you even knew there was a problem. Rich then asked the room full of delegates: “Would you be happy for tech to do something for you?” 72% of us would, with Rich’s caveat “as long as we have a good relationship with a brand.”
We’re getting more emotionally attached to our tech, and that tech is talking to other tech more and more. But it’s worth remembering that technology evolves with human behaviour, and when it comes to innovation, ultimately, “humans want technology to help realise their potential.” We’re in control of our own futures.