Marketing is on a reinvention journey, the first step of which is a stronger focus on customer experience across the entire organization, according to the keynote session this morning at the Adobe Summit, in Salt Lake City, where almost 7,000 digital marketers are in attendance.
“We are experiencing a big sea change with more people connecting to the Internet,” said Shantanu Narayen, CEO of Adobe Systems (CMO.com’s parent company). “There’s more of a focus on the customer experience. But are we thinking broadly enough about what the product is?”
According to Narayen, customer expectations for personalization are raising the bar for marketers.
“[Marketers must] expand the definition of what the product is,” Narayen said. “Your product is your marketing. And when your product is marketing, it puts marketing at the very center of the company.”
Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of the digital marketing business unit at Adobe, told attendees that “the digital reality is that the customer experience has become the brand.” Because of that, he said, enterprises are forced to reorganize in order to portray themselves seamlessly across channels.
“Marketing can no longer be one department among many,” Rencher said. “It should be the epicenter of an organization’s digital transformation.”
Consumers want instant access to information on whatever device they choose. “Consistent and continuous,” Rencher said, are the two words that describe customer expectations today. Marketers must know the customer, love him or her, and respect the history they have with that individual, Rencher said.
The key to being consistent and continuous, according to Rencher, is mobile. It is forcing marketers to engage in “marketing beyond marketing,” he said, “meet consumer expectations, and create linked experiences at every touch point.”
Marketing doesn’t end when a brand finds the right audience or when someone clicks and buys the product, he told the packed audience at the Salt Palace Convention Center. All customer touchpoints need to abide by direct marketing principles. By way of illustration, Rencher introduced Laurie Buckingham, chief development officer at Coca-Cola, to talk about how that company is creating experiences far beyond typical marketing.
Since its launch in 1892, Coca-Cola, time and again, has worked to remain relevant to new generations of consumers. According to Buckingham, the company’s mission today is to create “moments of happiness” through digital and other experiences.
According to Buckingham, Coke’s internal motto for experiences is that they must be “liquid and linked,” meaning they flow like water and aren’t controlled by the brand. Instead, Coke listens to its fans to create happy experiences. In that sense, digital plays a role in building lifetime value, Buckingham said.
“We are trying to create engaging experiences and tie in happiness,” she said. “We have to surprise people.”
One example of such an experience is Coke’s “Small-World Machine,” which was set up in malls in Pakistan and India--two parts of the world that have been fighting for centuries. The machines provided a live communications portal and showed that what unites us is stronger than what sets us apart. The key to engaging through the machines was simple: People could complete a task, such as touching hands, drawing peace, love, and happiness symbols--together.
“Marketers must take the principles of digital marketing and make them consistent across every aspect of the consumer experience and the enterprise,” Rencher said. “Forward-thinking brands, [like Coca-Cola], clearly see this as an opportunity.”
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