This past week, I attended the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, which was held in Madrid, Spain. As part of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, I led the Marketing Innovation Summit which brought together marketing professionals to network and discuss best practices. Of the 1,700 conference attendees, more than one thousand came from marketing backgrounds, providing a rich and in-depth conversation surrounding best practices for marketing effectiveness.
During the Marketing Innovation Summit, I focused on the idea of the Generation C (“C” for connected) customer. Today’s customer is digitally connected via an array of devices and channels and with that, consumers are far more in control than ever before. Consumer demands and expectations are great and it’s our job as marketers to evolve to meet those needs.
We know in order to succeed with Generation C, we must transform our marketing so it feels like a service, rather than what the customer perceives as an intrusion. So how do we increase our marketing effectiveness to achieve this goal? We start by reminding ourselves that we must practice consumer centricity and arm ourselves with as much data and information as we can when it comes to the preferences, buying behaviors, and attitudes of our target consumers. But this valuable information can’t stop at the marketer’s desk. Instead, we must share this information with other parts of the business, including our partners, agencies and customer communities. From a retail perspective for example, retailers should leverage consolidation between merchandising and marketing to better collaborate and work together to achieve overall marketing goals.
Once we’ve collected the data we need, we must create a plan for a system of engagement. Systems of engagement ensure relevant and positive customer experiences across all touch points that are aligned with corporate character. We can integrate digital behaviors with traditional data sources and consolidate silos to introduce standards-based suites and hybrid suites. IBM’s Digital Data Exchange is one example of how we are helping companies break down these data information silos and ensure that a company’s full marketing ecosystem, including vendors, and other partners, automatically share the most updated information regarding their customers.
Finally, we need to cultivate the right marketing culture. It’s not enough to simply focus on the creative and promotional aspects of marketing. We need to create an organization that balances the power of analytics with creative talents, to create a holistic approach to marketing. As the marketers begin to interact with all four P’s, price, product, promotion, and positioning, reliance on the IT department is inevitable. With that being said, we have to work with our IT department, not around them. We need to break down the marketing silos – digital and traditional marketing must consolidate and collaborate.
And perhaps the most important part of creating marketing effectiveness is to accept mistakes and learn from them – marketers must be nimble enough to iterate and improve. At the end of the day, it’s more important to be quick and adaptable than it is to be correct all the time. As marketers, we must strive more so for agility as opposed to certainty.
As marketers we must recognize the evolving wants, needs, and behaviors of the Generation C customer. On a daily basis, these consumers are interacting with our brands through a number of touch points. In fact, before most consumers even have their first cup of coffee, they’ve already engaged in dozens of conversations via Facebook, Twitter, and other social and online networks. Clearly, marketers play a pivotal role when it comes to Generation C. In this new age of consumer engagement, it’s up to the marketer to develop an effective plan to connect, communicate, and collaborate across all business boundaries. That’s not to say marketers won’t make mistakes – but the rewards for breaking down silos, working together, and communicating more effectively, certainly outweigh the risks.