The recent two-day Incite Summit brought together CMO and marketing experts to debate the future of Marketing. It was a great opportunity to get, here in San Francisco, some insight directly from companies like Yahoo!, SAP, Activision, U-Haul, Safeway, T-Mobile, Facebook, Groupon, HP, Kidzania, Ask.com, The Cheezburger Network, One Medial Group, Inventio!BRAINS, AT&T, Old Navy, Sears, and many more.
To make the various sessions ever more relevant to the audience, the topics and questions were peer-chosen, with a strong focus on engagement with the attendees and were PowerPoint-free.
From the sessions I attended, and the one I moderated, here is a snapshot of things I learned.
Building truly unique and engaging customer experiences
Even before engaging with your customers, you need to know your customers by going through all the data. Big data anyone?
Bob Stohrer, SVP of Brand Creative at Yahoo!, explained that in order to be truly customer centric his Customer Care group now sits within the Marketing department.
So, where do we start to build engaging customer experiences? Cammie Dunaway mentioned that we are not in a B2B or B2C market, but a H2H (Human to Human) market – consumers want to know the people behind the brand.
Arra Yerganian, CMO at One Medical Group enthusiastically made the point that great brands were transformative, they find ways to make customers their advocates. We know the customer journey isn’t what it used to be, so how do we start creating loyalty? According to Cammie you do it by listening and finding opportunities to exceed customer expectations. However, “Brilliant marketing can’t overcome a crappy product. Marketers must be involved in crafting the service or product experience.”
Turn your brand into a publishing powerhouse
In recognition of how companies have become publishing houses, Alan Elias, VP at Wells Fargo, stated that “we have gone from PR to P+R (publishing and relations) as we can’t rely on the media to tell our story”. Adam Weinroth, CMO at OneSpot, took this further by adding “you can’t tell a brand story in one sitting, you have to take multiple bites from the apple”.
Ben Huh, CEO and Founder of The Cheezburger Network, indicated that the ROI of content is getting better (great news to marketers and the bottom line!) and that you can increase engagement by repurposing content. He went on to say that brands can create the framework for content (becoming enablers) and its users/followers can push it out making it their own.
During the summit, point of repurposing content came up during different sessions. The logic being you have to keep repeating your message as it takes time to sink in and also, most of your audience won’t see it the first time. It also allows for continuity across channels.
Shift from Campaigns to Engaging Stories
Ivan Wicksteed, CMO at Old Navy, raised the following questions: “We have a publishing mentality, which means the output of what we do is storytelling. Is it newsworthy? Is it interesting? It’s about coming up with story’s that resonate with people.” Ivan went on to say that engaging employees as brands advocates is a huge opportunity and that experiences and events are where sharable content is now coming from.
Multi-channel marketing and experience
While 70% of Old Navy shopping experiences start on mobile, you shouldn’t just use a channel because it’s there, make sure it serves a purpose before trying it.
As delivering customer service came up, it was great to hear that even large companies make mistakes. Loren Simon from Walmart admitted that the company would have been better off concentrating on digital and improving their site three years ago for customer services purposes.
The level of engagement during the sessions was very high in the room … and via social media online of course! “No one owns the customer, they own the moment. That’s the key to a happy customer” Adriana Llames Kogelis (@adrianallames)
To sum up what I walked away with from the event, from a CMO’s perspective, it looks like the marketing department is the frontline of the business as well as a key player in the long-term success of brands. Engagement, storytelling and analytics are fundamentals for the future of marketing, regardless of medium and channel. These components are intrinsically part of the customer journey.
Gurcharan Wadhwa is a strategic marketing, data and customer experience junkie fascinated by the future of marketing and marketing technologies. He’s the President-Elect at SFAMA.
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