I recently interviewed a top marketing executive who summed up her journey to becoming a digital-era marketer by saying, “If you feel comfortable, you’re not transforming.” It might sound cliche, but today's most successful marketers are wholeheartedly embracing the "no pain, no gain" mentality.
Unfortunately, the story for most marketers goes more like "all pain, no gain." Over the past six months, I’ve listened to countless marketing executives explain that despite all of the heartache they are enduring, they don’t feel like they are making much progress. In fact, in a recent study by Accenture Interactive, only 4% of marketing leaders feel that they are very prepared to exploit digital marketing opportunities.
So, what’s the problem? In short, marketers are stuck in a world between the old rules and the new rules. To deal with the new rules of changing media, technology, and consumer behavior, many marketers delegate emerging marketing solutions to a handful of external partners or internal "experts." In doing so, they have enabled the rest of the organization to behave much like it did 10 years ago, clinging to the old rules. And until marketers reconcile their internal organizations, they will be fighting a long, painful battle to survive.
To Avoid Extinction, Marketers Must Replace The Bad Habits Of Traditional Marketing With The Habits Of Adaptive Marketing
After interviewing more than 20 of the most successful marketing executives and thought leaders from around the world, Forrester has learned what marketers must do in order to evolve as a species and avoid extinction. We call it Adaptive Marketing — “a flexible approach in which marketers respond quickly to their environment to align consumer and brand goals and maximize return on brand equity.”
Why are some CMOs better than others at adapting to the digital era? Last week, I provided some answers when I unveiled the five habits of highly adaptive marketers at the Forrester Consumer Forum in Chicago.
After spending the past three months with more than 20 of the most successful marketing executives and thought leaders from around the world, here is what it boils down to. Marketing leaders who are successfully evolving into adaptive digital-era marketers are willing to part ways with outdated practices. That doesn’t mean they have abandoned the fundamentals of traditional marketing. Rather, they have retained its best parts, while shedding its five bad habits:
Complacency. Marketers who are complacent leave their brand exposed and vulnerable to the competition. Blockbuster ignored the road signs pointing to consumers’ desires to bypass the video store in favor of more convenient formats. Meanwhile, Netflix and Redbox seized the opportunity to create new channels of distribution.
Conformity. Marketers who play follow-the-leader lose their ability to differentiate themselves. While major airlines like Delta, United, and American have flirted with bankruptcy by providing the lowest common denominator of service, others like Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America are having success by straying from the norm and offering more leg room, checking luggage without charging extra fees, and providing in-flight Wi-Fi.
Vending machines are back en vogue! Marketers from Coca-Cola to Kraft Foods are transforming run-of-the-mill vending machines into brand experience machines. I just attended an event hosted by SapientNitro and got to meet the people behind the Unilever "Share Happy" machine, one of the most innovative brand ideas I've seen this year. These pop-up brand experiences are a trend that I expect to increase for the next few years as marketers start to realize the full potential of creative technology.
In my forthcoming report called "The Pop-Up Brand Experience," I provide advice about how marketers can transform product transactions into brand moments. My report draws inspiration from the recent trend in new-age vending machines that are combining technnologies such as networked computers, facial recognition, and multi-touch displays to innovate how marketers can deliver brand experiences at the moment of purchase.
I'll be back soon to share some more insights on the subject of "brand moments" and "pop-up brand experiences," but for now, I'll leave you with a few quick takeways. Marketers who are on the leading edge of delivering the new brand experience are:
Forcing collaboration across multi-disciplinary teams, including technology, creative, marketing, strategy, sales, and service. And it's not just org chart collaboration. It's actual side-by-side, co-located, roll-your-sleeves-up-to-a-whiteboard problem solving.
Investing in R&D to test the limits of what's possible when you combine human emotion and advanced technology at the moment of truth.
I don’t know if it was the Great Recession, the emergence of social media, or the result of new decision-makers coming on the scene, but marketers have been on a shopping spree for new agency partners. Over the past 18 months, we’ve witnessed everything from Zappo's RFP gone wild to the sudden agency changes at Chevrolet and Cadillac. In my latest report "When To Outsource Your Agency Search," I found that:
Agency reviews have been rampant. According to the 4A's list of publicly known accounts in review, there have been more agency reviews over the past 18 months (1,006) than in the prior three years combined (917).
Yet interestingly, search consultants haven’t been called to the table as frequently. Using the same 4A's list of accounts in review, search consultants were involved in approximately 23% of agency reviews, compared with 34% in 2008 and 40% in 2007.
Marketers Need To Know When To Outsource The Agency Search Process
Considering the importance of the decision and the commitment required to conduct a search, it’s surprising that more marketers have been handling the agency review process internally. Especially when CMOs and marketing leaders are saddled with more responsibility than ever. That's why Forrester believes there are four cases when marketers would be better off using a third-party advisor for their agency search process.
The inspiration for my first report, “Let Your Product Do The Talking,” was that marketers rely too much on communications to build their brand. Using consumer trends from Forrester’s Technographics Survey, I identified that while consumers are tuning out marketing messages, they are actually seeking out more product experiences.
In the future, I believe that companies will successfully build their brands by:
Having spent my entire 15-year career in the “advice giving” industry, between management consulting and advertising, I have found that the best advice is pragmatic, forward-thinking, grounded in research, and relevant to your needs. Relevance being the most important ingredient.
And the best way for me to provide relevant advice is to listen to your needs.
So the purpose of my blog will be as much about understanding the issues and concerns of CMOs and Marketing Leaders as it will be about providing advice.
Coverage areas and topics I’m interested in.
Speaking of relevance, here are the topics that are relevant to me:
I’ll be primarily focused on helping CMOs and Marketing Leadership Professionals create the new brand experience. In order to create the new brand experience, I will be challenging the standard assumptions about brand strategy, positioning, and integrated marketing strategy. That means I will be taking a broad look across the entire marketing mix to create new synergies between the Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. In particular, I will focus on helping marketers leverage emerging digital trends, capabilities, and technologies to enable the new brand experience.
Secondarily, I will be focusing on helping marketers optimize their agency relationships to create the new brand experience – whether through brainstorming, benchmarking, digital thought leadership, consumer insights, digital strategies, or even agency selection.
Finally, I will be focusing on helping marketers adapt their organization so they can deliver the new brand experience.