What Wins in Marketing Today

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Commonalities among the winners of DMN's 2016 Marketing&Tech Innovation Awards shed light on what it takes to be (successfully) innovative in marketing today.

In the run-up to announcing our 2016 Marketing&Tech Innovation Awards, I spent a great deal of time reviewing nomination forms, examining judges' scores and comments, and reading winners' profiles. Not surprisingly, a few commonalities emerged that shed light on what being (successfully) innovative in marketing requires today. Here are a few attributes that surfaced.

Balance: Today even the most creative marketers need to embrace their more analytic side. Similarly, data-crunching marketers need to think creatively and use data to tell ­stories that will help their colleagues in marketing and on other customer-facing teams make strategic and tactical decisions.

Customer centricity: While some of the winners focus on personalization in terms of messaging and content, others aim to connect with customers based on their behavior or where they are in their purchase or life cycle. Indeed, one judge scored a winning entry high in part because it's “a good example of [being] customer-driven — aligning content and propositions based on where the customer is on [his] journey.” Another judge said about a winning entry, “Its personalized life cycle marketing strategy is highly effective.”

Outcome driven: “Loved the in-depth mea­surements of success” was but one example of the comments judges made in citing metrics-related attributes that made award winners stand out. Having success metrics and expected outcomes associated with their initiatives are musts for all marketers today, as the pressure to prove the value and ROI of marketing increases. Consider: One winner was cited for an approach that “brought clear business benefits to the company” as well as for finding “areas for business improvement/transformation, and then literally helping to write the manual(s) for [the company] to drive/retain revenue.”

On trend: From omnichannel consistency to mobile engagement, several winners stood out for recognizing and acting on trends that have real impact. A judge remarked that one winning entry, for instance, “is revolutionizing consumer engagement and the links between our physical and digital selves.” Another pointed out that a winner “outsmarted” the competition through its highly successful use of the second screen to engage TV-watching consumers on social media.

Impactful: Sometimes great marketing is about more than just serving individual customers; it's about addressing multiple audiences, or even the greater good. This was evident in several winning entries. For instance, one judge noted that a winner stood out because it's “building components that matter to both retailers and customers.” Another was cited for “incredibly important work [that] sheds light on a significant, material, problem for marketers worldwide … and that will help save advertisers millions/billions and protect consumers.” A third was praised for its broad appeal on social: “I love the promotion of goodwill,” one judge said.

Disciplined: Knowing what not to do is often just as important, if not more important, than knowing what to do. One judge, for example, called out a winning entry for having “the discipline to actually turn off content that wasn't working.”

Check out “The 2016 Marketing&Tech Inno­vation Awards” to see the full profiles on this year's winners — and to see why, as one judge so aptly said, “Forget the basics … That's award-worthy.”

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