Living in an ever-changing digital world with endless options available at the touch of a finger, a number of brands are starting to break out of the same-ole and leverage new technologies to create personalized digital experiences and separate themselves from the pack.
We’re going to continue to see more of these real-world examples in the near future, reinforcing marketing’s need to also adopt and apply new technologies to their practices in a personal and meaningful way. This was the central theme touched upon by speakers at the recent FutureM, MITX’s annual conference.
One of the best ways for a brand to stand out from the crowd is to be an early adopter of new tactics and technologies. Marketers should have their eyes on what’s about to happen so that they get there when it counts. The ideas shared at the event offered a fresh perspective for how CMOs can approach marketing in the coming year.
This year’s speaker lineup included industry leaders, such as Facebook VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who zeroed in on the fact that the most important thing, in an ever-changing technological world, is the ability to evolve. As the epicenter of martech shifts to mobile, companies need to adjust their outreach. “You need to understand what you do. Structure yourself to have change within your organization and commit to that change,” Bosworth said.
Ice production, whale oil, and railroad companies are all historic industries that fought change and advancements, rather than embrace them. That thinking proved fatal.
AOL “digital prophet” David “Shingy” Shing took it a step further: Apart from innovation, what’s needed is creation.
“We need to take the internet of things and turn it into the internet of emotion. Break from the norm and cause disruption. Create something people will stop and notice,” Shing said. In today’s world, there are so many reasons people are connected to the IoT. Entrepreneurs need to stop thinking of digital marketing as its own area and instead realize there is no digital marketing. There is no difference; if you play a game on a physical game board or play it on a controller, it’s still about playing a game.
For brands, it’s an epic battle to get consumers to stop and take notice, much less care. There is so much fragmentation in today’s world. According to eMarketer chairman and chief innovation officer Geoff Ramsey, “The average American spends 12 hours a day with media. That’s a huge amount of time, but most of that time is spent multitasking between different mediums and activities. When multitasking, the average person is only giving 68.7% of their attention to any one given thing.”
So how do you get consumers to stop and take notice? According to Ramsey, “Companies need to start thinking about striking at the right time. Operate in real time, moving from weeks and days to minutes and seconds. It’s an equation to understand consumer attention. Attention equals the right time, plus the right place and value.”
JP Kuehlwein, former Proctor & Gamble managing director of global strategy and innovation, shed light on fostering the client base. “Brands need to create a story that consumers want to be part of. Make your brand esteemed beyond size and valued beyond price. There are three dimensions for a brand: the must of mission, a balance of exclusivity and inclusivity, and the need for truth.”
Kuehlwein argued brands need to find a story for their product—a mission—as a way to connect with the consumer on a human level, driving them to want to become part of that story. Consumers vote with their credit cards; it’s about creating meaningfulness that can be purchased with money. In finding that story, brands are creating a niche, a world according to themselves. After that, brands need to walk a fine line to create an air of exclusivity to their product—taking the same thought process about creating a story to a different level—to cause the consumer to want to belong, to be part of the brand. Finally, the brand’s passion has to be real and purposeful. Consumers are intelligent and will see through falsity eventually.
GE global director of innovation Sam Olstein is enacting similar thought processes. GE is shifting perception, telling a modern internet story, with a passion for science and tech, to create a digital industrial future, with what Olstein calls his disruption lab. The company’s goal is to create access by building GE “in real life” communities with limited edition, small batch consumer products.
One way GE is doing this is through Drone Week, an annual live multicast of GE tech around the world, most recently at the Rio Olympics. Drone Week gave people access to the Olympics they would not have had otherwise. Up close, real-time views of the entire setting. Another way GE is telling its story is through tech at the Masaya volcano (aka “The Mouth of Hell”) in Nicaragua. GE has placed a wireless sensor camera deep inside the mouth of the volcano to help nearby communities understand the volcano and give them access to volcanic activity information they would not otherwise be able to gather. These are participatory stories that allow people to take a role within them—to be part of GE’s story.
Also among the discussions: advancements in augmented reality, which is assisting brands such as Wayfair. Wayfair chief architect Ben Clark demonstrated the company’s new app, WayfairView, which can virtually place in customers’ homes items they are browsing so they can see exactly how they would fit and appear. “Customers can click on the desired selection, and their smartphone camera will launch, placing the selection in the room they’re in on the screen of their smartphone,” Clark said. “As they move around, the 3D image will acclimate, becoming larger as they move closer. It’s an incredibly useful advancement to bridge the gap between internet shopping and physical stores.”
“The post-digital world is once again becoming the world of the customer,” Ramsey said. “Fostering relationships is crucial to success. Brands need to abandon the classic funnel model and embrace the more dynamic customer journey. Connecting with the customer is of the utmost importance.”
“Create a mission and a bespoke product for your brand in the eyes of customers, and it will become priceless to them,” Khuehlwein said. Merge that thought process with the AR and VR advancements available to elevate your brand even further, and you have a powerful combination. With the tremendous strides we are seeing in martech daily, it will be exciting to see what next year’s conference will bring.