Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

There’s no debating that we live in an exciting, dynamic, and innovative time for marketers.

Connected consumers have access to detailed information about our brands and products before they ever directly engage with us. We’re able to connect to them through “androids” and in the “cloud.” We can make thousands of virtual brand friends via Facebook and integrate GPS into our experiences. If we get lucky, a video we produce will go viral on YouTube and other social media platforms where millions of people will see it around the world in a matter of days (unless a video of a cat playing the piano captures consumer attention first). We even get to mine Big Data so we can deliver personalization that drives deeper engagement with our most valuable consumers.

It’s innovative and heady stuff.

But are we getting ahead of ourselves?

All too often digital advertising initiatives fall short of delivering on initial business objectives or fail to build on the success of prior initiatives. Successful senior leaders in the digital marketing environment need to be more than just innovative—we need to be seasoned evangelists for change.

Without leading broader change, progressive marketers risk not having the proven track record of results that justifies further digital investment, even if all the trends point in that direction.

Driving change means going beyond the traditional mandate for marketing and creating consumer-centric organizational conditions, capabilities, and culture that will enable us to deliver profitable growth in the evolving and increasingly complex world of the connected consumer.

Check yourself: While change is never easy, there are some basic elements that organizations need to understand and embrace in order to truly be consumers-centric and see the full impact from efforts in the new marketing environment.

1. Do you have a multi-year vision and plan that defines the road-map and business case for taking advantage of this new environment? In order to improve the likelihood of success in an ever more complex environment, it’s important that management clearly understands both the opportunity and investment required—not just in terms of marketing dollars, but also in technology and infrastructure, in changes to process and workflow, and in the type of people required to drive impact.

2. Do you activate marketing based on a full understanding of your consumer’s “DNA?” While Big Data means access to a wealth of rich data, effective organizations need to be able to digest the data so they have a clear understanding of the code that defines how customers choose and use brands. The code needs to reflect customers’ beliefs (needs and attitudes), behaviors (channel preference, product usage, interaction with marketing), and the context (LTV, demographics, life stage).

3. Is your marketing organization aligned and rewarded around the consumer, not the channel? As consumers become increasingly multichannel, we need to develop integrated marketing objectives and KPIs that measure and reward organizations based on shared success with the customer as opposed to channel-specific metrics. Ideally, the KPIs reflect the “return on the customer relationship” using composite metrics that reflect both customer engagement and direct business impact.

4. Is your marketing platform agile and performance-based? The discipline of marketing in the new reality requires a marketing process and capability that is operating at the same pace as the customers. Team members, process, and workflows all need to be agile in the way they execute with the emphasis shifting from planning to dynamic execution and optimization. In doing so, the organization can realize the benefit of the increasing complexity of the marketing environment and get more from more.

5. Has the culture of the entire organization been engaged to understand the new reality? Ultimately, impact relies on the whole organization understanding and embracing the new approach to marketing. An organization bound together by a singular culture is one with less internal frictions and barriers to change.

With these basic fundamentals in place, progressive marketers have the conditions for success that drive consistent impact and sustained change. We can focus on engaging the customer across the breadth of new touchpoints and driving impact from the innovation that makes the job of the marketer more dynamic and exciting than ever before.

Ned Elton is managing partner, financial services, at Rosetta, a customer engagement agency.

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