Strong marketing organizations typically excel in being able to leverage consumer/customer insights, communicate a strong brand purpose, and deliver a rich customer experience. They are putting out engaging content, inspiring their brand vision throughout the organization, have a strategic focus, organizational agility and are committed to continual training. Here’s a look at what key elements are needed for a strong, effective marketing organization.
It’s not only important to integrate insights on what consumers are doing into your marketing efforts but also why they are doing it. Insights are not just the facts and data that you collect, it goes deeper than that. Insights are also the cause and effect which gets at consumers’ needs in order to address how best to meet them. Dove is a great example of a brand that has used consumer insights effectively. Dove has used its line of beauty products (soaps, shampoos, deodorants, body washes) to successfully engage consumers in a conversation for 10 years now about beauty based on their insights around women’s views of themselves. A large part of Dove’s marketing efforts has been about getting real people to talk about Dove’s products. Another example is Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services which combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick. Nick+ incorporates sensor technologies into running shoes and wearable devices that connect to the web, apps, smartphones, training programs and social networks. Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes and even coaches. Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress. People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media and can compare their performance with and learn from others in the Nike+ community.
LEAD WITH A STRONG BRAND PURPOSE
Brand fundamentals matter more than ever before. That’s why it’s so important for brands to deliver a powerful and clear brand purpose ensuring consistent messaging across all touch points throughout an organization. Brands must know what their purpose is, why they exist, what their job is, and what results they want to get in order for their product or service to deliver effectively to their target audience. General Mills offers a case in point of how a great brand purpose can transform your marketing and serve as an anchoring tool. They set out to have their Betty Crocker brand stand for, “Making a house a home.” In order for this to happen, the brand had to share expert opinions on and platforms around the ever-changing state of the American Family. They created a campaign called “The Families Project” highlighted by a website that aggregates stories from families of all kinds giving consumers a place to share their voice. The website contains numerous videos of families sharing their stories and giving anyone the ability to post theirs through the site and via social media. Regardless of the makeup of the family, the consistent theme of families working to make their house a home remained throughout. Another case in point, AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands. AkzoNobel had a decentralized business model with local markets setting their own brand/business goals with mixed results. They instituted a program to understand consumer’s perceptions across markets on paint’s purpose in their lives and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments. The consistent theme that emerged was that colors around us powerfully influence how we feel driving their new brand purpose and leading to their marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.” The campaign donates paint to revitalize rundown urban neighborhoods and has created a globalized organization with a purpose driven approach that has expanded market share.
SHARE OF TOTAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
More and more companies today are creating an overall customer experience by enhancing the value of their product and/or service through the breadth of the relationship and through the depth of the personalization. McCormick (spice and flavoring brand) highlights the depth and breadth in delivering a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touch points (packaging, branded content [cookbooks], retail stores and interactive service [FlavorPrint]). FlavorPrint learns each customer’s preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations from there generating customized e-mails, shopping lists and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.
CONTENT IS KING
Content is another vital piece in the digital age and failing to put out great, rewarding, meaningful content can translate to failure overall for the brand. The goal is to engage with a highly targeted audience as well as attract new consumers, encouraging social shares and increasing the brand’s visibility. When the Superbowl plunged into darkness, the Oreo team reacted with a simple but relevant branded tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The image was retweeted 16K times and 8K new people started following them on twitter. Oreo built instant brand engagement and a whole heap of press based on their reactiveness to the black-out event. Another example is General Mills’ Box Tops for Education initiative which generates $600M for school supplies. They ran a week long appreciation campaign asking Facebook fans how the program had benefitted their school. Responses were turned into box top art with fans loving the one of a kind pictures that were created for them. The campaign generated 7M impressions with over 66K interactions.
ORGANIZING FOR GROWTH THROUGH CULTURAL CHANGE
To be successful, the marketing organization needs to be a strategic partner as they actively engage in helping to create the company strategy. They then need to align its department’s activities with those of the companies. Another driving force is inspiring the organization around the brand purpose that in turn creates employees that become de facto brand ambassadors. This enhances cross functional collaboration and also helps ensure a consistent customer experience. Inspiration is becoming so important for companies these days that they have begun measuring employees’ brand engagement. Companies such as Amazon, Target and Google have dedicated brand engagement departments that measure how fully people embrace the company’s culture and purpose. It’s also critical to focus on the right metrics. Ensuring the brands key performance indicators are clearly linked to the overall business performance is critical to drive overall success. Today’s marketing organizations must leverage global scale but also be nimble, able to plan and execute in a matter of weeks and more increasingly, instantaneously as in the Oreo example where the tweet was designed and implemented within minutes of the Superbowl blackout making the brand a tending topic. Companies are creating specialized “centers of excellence” that guide strategy and share best practices while drawing on needed resources throughout organizations. As companies pursue this approach, roles and processes need to be adapted. However it’s important to keep in mind that not everything works and there should be a permission to fail. VC’s take a portfolio approach, planning on the almost certainty that some investments will fail. Sometimes you have to deliberately support things that at first sound like a bad idea. Think about the ALFLAC duck or the Allstate mayhem guy, there had to be at least a few folks thinking these weren’t good ideas but they ended up working very well for these brands. And finally, more organizations are building training programs that are tailored to the specific needs of their businesses continually building on their capabilities.