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How to (Finally) Win at Marketing in 2016

Andy Markowitz, general manager of performance marketing labs at GE, is responsible for the company’s global digital strategy. In this Q&A he defines marketing of the future, the impact of tech today, and what he feels are true measures of marketing success.

When is a marketing campaign or initiative considered successful?

I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer in that. There can be direct answers, like number of transactions or revenue. But sometimes there are proxies for success, like dealer locator or number of relationships started. Too many metrics rely on assuming things that can’t be proven out. For instance, in and of themselves, shares and views aren’t necessarily successes unless you can tie them to a specific standard or benchmark you’re trying to achieve.

Within that, it is important to know that there may be multiple stakeholders that view success differently. Owners may only think of volume as success, while other stakeholders, ones that hold the keys to budget, may have a different set of success criteria. It’s important to know which stakeholders value which successes, and tailor your outcome planning based on the value those stakeholders require.

How does the role of the marketer differ from 10, five, or even one year ago?

There are many obvious differences, like being able to spot real opportunity within the numerous platforms that are readily available yet provide no clear differentiated value to its users. So, the first one is the ability to distill what is a real opportunity versus what is just something new to do. If there is no solid rationale behind a decision, then organizations are not training their staff well.

On the less obvious side, a required skill is the ability to create partnerships where businesses may not have that experience. There’s a need to understand that there are no magic bullets in the growing area of technology. It should be a requirement for planners and business managers to find creative ways to bring technologies together that create great experiences and enable measurement in meaningful ways. That will require organizations to encourage their employees to step out of their comfort zone and continually try to involve their mandate.

What impact does technology have on a chief marketer today?

This issue is critical to the success of any business in the modern age. There are mandatory sets of experiences that exist today because of companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple. The standard for customer experience is being created by what technology can do to scale more human experiences. If you don’t keep up with that standard then you will fail at a customer experience level. I often say that we are really at the dawn of the age of accountability in marketing. If you don’t have sales, benchmarks, or at the very least an agreed-upon proxy for success, then you’re missing the real opportunity, which is to measure and track engagements in a holistic way that hasn’t been available in the past.

No one can own digital. No one can own technology. No one can own social. It’s the responsibility of organizations to train people to have a more horizontal view of the world.

Define marketing of the future.

There’s no difference between marketing of the future and marketing of the past. Technology should not complicate the paradigm. Deliver the right message to the right person at the right time; and more important, be value creators with your messaging.

What’s your key advice for 2016?

Define a vision of what you think you can accomplish. At GE, one of the things we talk about is using technology to get to a single view of the audience. It’s a journey and we’re not there yet, but at least it’s something we can drive towards.

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