How Are You Nurturing The Brand Experience?

It's that time of year . . . plants, pots, trip to the garden store, dirt, trip to the garden store . . .

We have a long narrow balcony that runs along our city apartment that I've loaded my husband would say, overloaded with plants. I'm still in my optimistic moment of urban gardening. The flowers are fresh, the strawberries are turning pin, and there are lots of little plants that seem to grow while we're watching not too many bugs, no strange blights . . . yet . . . a gardening honeymoon. 

It's a bit like the acquisition phase of marketing, full of promise. But what comes next? 

I've been writing periodically about how marketers need to mobilize their companies to deliver on the brand promise made, at all the points of connection with the customer, even when there are bugs and rotting leaves. In my research, I call it connecting the dots:  

Orchestrating diverse opportunities and all resources — within marketing, elsewhere in the company, and externally — to create a compelling brand experience that delivers value to the consumer, resulting in more successful products and services, more loyal customers, and stronger brands.

If you'll pardon the parellel, connecting the dots is bit like me watering, caring for, and troubleshooting for my garden throughout the summer and fall. 

In the spirit of the growing season, I wonder how you're doing in nurturing your brand experience. Would you take 15 minutes to answer our survey of marketing leaders? I appreciate your input. I'll use what I learn to structure a path to help marketers become better at connecting the dots. 

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Q&A With Marc Menesguen, Managing Director Of Strategic Marketing At L'Oréal

Yesterday, I had some time to catch up with Marc Menesguen, the managing director of strategic marketing at L'Oréal. While Marc has been with L'Oréal for years, he's just Marc Menesguenrecently taken on this new — for him and for the company — role at L'Oréal. He was finishing work on one very beautiful presentation for the Forrester Marketing Forum in San Francisco next week. Marc's keynote, "L'Oréal: Where Digital Unleashes The Power Of Beauty," tells the story of brands — like Lancome, Maybelline, Vichy, and L'Oréal Paris — which can finally interact with consumers.  

I asked Marc a few questions about how technology and beauty fit together. As my pre-teen daughter would have told me, it turns out that they fit together well, very well. Both beauty and digital are keys to connection. I like that. And I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.     

MBK: Marc, what one thing most surprises you about consumers’ adoption and use of technology? 

MM: Technology is changing so rapidly that the most surprising thing to me is how technology-savvy these customers are. Consumers today want to be part of the conversation, and it’s up to us to engage them in ways that are meaningful and relevant.  

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Test Your Readiness For Marketing Innovation

Innovation is a top priority for CMOs in 2011 according to a recent Forrester/Advertising Age study. And it's a subject I've been regularly researching. 

If you'd like to find out where you stand in your readiness to innovate marketing, please take 15 minutes to complete our survey. It will score your company’s standing on 13 important drivers of marketing innovation: organization, culture, people management . . .

Once the survey is closed, we’ll send you the results for your personal use, including your personalized score, benchmarked relative to the rest of the respondents. Here’s the link to the questionnaire

I hope you find the questions interesting and that they spark some thought, and even some discussion. Can I suggest our online community as a good place to continue the conversation? 

And if you’d like to be involved further in my research on marketing innovation or would like to speak with us about how you’ve been able to enable innovation in your company, please connect. Look forward to reading you. 

Please Take Our Survey On Marketing Innovation and Direct Sales to Consumers

The two subjects I have on my mind will be a little more accessible: direct-to-consumer sales and the innovation of marketing. They are both included in Forrester's current marketing leader panel survey. If you're a senior marketer, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the time to answer here.

What to expect when you click on that link?

For the direct-to-consumer section: I'm trying to get a read on motivations for selling directly to consumers and the role of marketers in that decision to close the loop. Many brands have recently taken advantage of technology to sell directly to their end consumers; some of you have been selling '"forever" through branded stores. Why? To get higher margins, to closely orchestrate the brand experience, to act as a counterweight to other channels, to learn? You tell me. I look forward to your responses. 

On marketing innovation: This is part of my ongoing research. You could call it an annual checkup on how innovative marketers think their organizations are, or are not. I'll also be asking how you fund marketing innovation and what types of pilots, in particular in the media space, you're testing or most considering. 

We will, of course, give you a report as a thank you, and share the results with those of you who participate. As well, please consider the time spent answering the questions as an opportunity to stay inside, warm, and dry. 

Why Is Mobile Right For Your Brand?

My husband and I are in vehement competition for the mayorship of our home. While I'm the current proud holder of that little Foursquare crown, he'll have the perfect opportunity to steal an advance when I'm at Forrester's Consumer Forum in Chicago all next week. A sad defeat. You see, in our house, the Mayor doesn't take out the trash. 

That's what I love about mobile, the ability to link together the virtual and real worlds. But that's not the only thing mobile is good for. 

In my recently published research, "Mobile Adds New Appeal To Your Brand Experience," I challenge CMOs to think of mobile as an opportunity to raise the bar on the brand experience, by adopting or reinforcing three key characteristics of life on the go: immediacy, intimacy, and context.

  • Immediacy is, of course, about speed and time: Does the brand give a consumer what she needs — right now?
  • Intimacy means connecting with an individual: How does the brand change when its carried in his pocket? 
  • Context acknowledges that life has no commercial breaks: How does the brand stay relevant depending on where the consumer is and what she's doing? 
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What chief marketers do you want to hear from?

I'm preparing a panel discussion for our fall European Marketing and Strategy Forum about how marketing leaders have or are beginning to connect the dots of the brand experience.  If you're unfamiliar with the concept of Connecting the Dots, in my research I've defined it as:

Orchestrating diverse opportunities and all resources — within marketing, elsewhere in the company, and externally — to create a compelling brand experience that delivers value to the consumer...

In short, you could say it's about marketers making harmony out of chaos. 

In the panel I'm running, I'd like to chat with marketing leaders about how they have stepped up to define and lead the brand experience at their company, across different channels and often among diverse departments.  I'll ask them about their challenges, their worst surprise and their closest allies in trying to connect the dots.  And more...

I have some ideas of who I'd like to talk with, but let me open it to you, the audience:  who would you like to hear from? 

It may be a company that you like doing business with as a customer because it feels like they are taking care of you.  It may be a marketer you've read about or a company that intrigues you as they take advantage of technology.  It could be a colleague, a friend, or even - gasp - yourself. 

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Marketing Innovation Must Be Planned And More Ambitious

Many of the CMOs I engage with are adept at dealing with change. Marketers have to be adaptable these days, right? We're all playing in new channels and at different ways of interacting with customers. 

But through my discussions with marketers, I've noticed two things: 1) Most marketing organizations are reacting to, rather than driving, change, and 2) marketers aren't reaching far enough. 

Why do I call marketing reactive? Well, CMOs don't consider themselves change agents, and that's despite rapid changes in consumer behavior and the new possibilities technology offers them. Indeed, marketers see their own company's efforts at marketing innovation as middling, according to our September 2009 Global Marketing Leadership Online Survey (see figure below). I suppose that's to be expected. Marketers have a job to do, business to deliver, budgets to protect, and bosses to satisfy. Innovation isn't often part of their job description . . . but it should be. 



As a first step to making innovation a more important part of marketing's role, CMOs must define their marketing innovation strategy. I've structured a framework and process for doing just that in my new research.

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B2C Marketers Say Loyal Customers Will Drive Them To Innovate

I hadn't realised it was so long since I posted. Let's chalk it up to May Madness, which has more to do with trains and planes than basketball. 

Some of you may know from previous posts that I have been writing about the innovation of marketing. My new research, including a framework for creating a marketing innovation roadmap, should be live very soon. 

Being on my marketing innovation kick, one of the questions I most ask marketers these days is what factors will lead them to innovate their marketing. Below you'll see the top 10 of what our recent panel survey of B2C Marketing Leaders said. The first on this list is near and dear to my heart: Loyal customers. 

B2C Marketers pick their innovation drivers

How will increasing customer loyalty impact your business? How will you use it for good? 

I'm hoping we'll invest less upfront in media and invest more in services to build custom further -- you know, something like automatic replenishment while reusing containers. Or perhaps pluck up the courage to try interesting pricing models linked to longevity. Or manage access based on behavior: "Sorry, those detergents are reserved for our best customers." Or engage in real learning relationships that mean the loyal customer will always get the product and service he or she is after. 

What drivers are top three in your list? And what are you doing about it?   

Oh, one thing to know, B2B marketers set different priorties for their drivers. More on them next week. 

What Role For The CMO In Social? The Research . . .

Last night, I hosted my first Tweet-up to talk about how senior marketers should approach social. Thanks to the team at Aspect and to the many lively tweeters and bloggers who were there. We'll do it again soon. Maybe we'll even get a 'real' French-speaking analyst, like my collegue Thomas Husson, to play along next time. 

So what did we talk about? 

In my just-published research "CMOs Must Orchestrate Social Initiatives" I call for marketing leaders to lead social. But when I say lead, I don't mean 'own'. The CMO, as the steward of the brand experience, must connect the dots of the company's social efforts around the consumer. 

The CMO must ochestrate social around the customer

The marketing leader has to help make sense of it all - not do it all. Indeed, every department has a role to play. I've outlined two distinct roles for the CMO to play: driving or shepherding, depending on the objective set for social. In both cases, these roles beg CMOs (and marketing staff) to act transversally, across different departments. 

This is a posture of sharing control - just like we talk about with consumers - which also must happen internally. Ideally, it should happen first internally . . .

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What Role For The CMO In Social?

Sorry, won't reveal the conclusions here (yet). 

We all know that Social Computing can have an important impact on the brand and on the brand experience. And that many people and departments around the enterprise have adopted social technologies. But therein lies the challenge -- how to best benefit from social when everyone is involved? And what role for the CMO? 

I'll talk about my new research on how CMOs should orchestrate their company's social initiatives next week at our Paris Tweet-up. And I expect not to be the only one talking. 

If you're in Paris the evening of May 4th - or would like to be ;-) - please join us.  You can find details and registration here:  I look forward to seeing you at Café Reflets - Centre Cerise @ 19 h.