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End-to-End Marketing Part 2: Marrying creativity with technology

Jacques Pavlenyi - IBM

In my previous post, I started to think about the heavy influence of technology and how it seems to be pushing marketing too much towards the rational at the expense of the creative. In this post, I would like to think a little bit more in depth about where technology (rational, repeatable decision-making) and creativity (emotional appeals) can co-exist successfully.

I like to think of the traditional end-to-end marketing as more of a circle. Of course, each stage actually touches the other in some direct as well as indirect way. But for purposes of simplicity, I think this does the trick.

  1. Product or service idea - raw value creation
  2. Segmentation - the identification of unmet needs mapped to new value
  3. Messaging - translating raw value into compelling value propositions in natural language the target segments understand
  4. Go-to-market - the application of messages to specific media, tactics and channels to elicit a response
  5. Lead management and sales - the qualification of responses into leads, and the passing of leads to sales for progression and win
  6. Delivery - realization of value through application and use
  7. Customer support and service - product or service support to meet actual customer expectations of realized value

Different roles in the organization have specialized in one or more of these areas. But the advent of social technologies have tightened and increased the complexity of the cycle:

  • Traditional marketing and corporate communications used to focus mainly on Stages 2-5
  • Product management focused on Stages 1 and 2
  • Sales focusing on Stage 5
  • Support and Service closing out the loop in Stages 6 and 7

But the reality is that today “we're all marketers now”, and everyone overlaps each Stage. Hence the growth of end-to-end marketing, and the consolidation of marketing, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and Big Data (analytics and predictive analytics) software and cloud services providers in the market.

Digital technologies are improving the automation and repeatability of all the various steps, especially in areas traditionally considered creative and manual. We're moving from spreadsheets and file folders to marketing asset and web content management. From siloed project management social project management. From manual campaign execution to marketing automation. From observational data to predictive modeling. As a result, marketing gets into every step much more intimately, as the organization's aggregate voice of the customer:

  1. New product or service. From pure “gut feel” design and focus groups to recordable behavioral observation coupled with predictive modeling based on social media discussions. But without creative design that appeals to emotion AND function (see: Apple, “beautiful” enterprise software), the product's or service's adoption slows or stalls.
  2. Segmentation. From guessed “personas” to personas based on analytics that aggregate actual behavior from millions of people and millions of interactions. But there still needs to be creative story telling, that turns these personas into people that your prospects actually relate to or can see in themselves.
  3. Messaging. From the myth of Mad Men to real-time A/B testing of digital content and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But the need for creative story-telling doesn't disappear. There has to be real copy behind the A/B. Web content that over-emphasizes SEO just reads like story written by a computer-generated voice response system. There has to be an emotional connection between the prospect's life and the product or service you hope will improve it.
  4. Go-to-market. From traditional go-to-market strategies that emphasize channel management, to distributed value networks and extended partnerships enabled through social collaboration and integrated supply chains. The emotional requirements here though are still important: relationships are built on trust and value sharing, not just quantitative analyses of leads passed or inventory management.
  5. Lead management and sales. From rolodexes and spreadsheets to robust marketing automation that syndicate registrable content, guide prospect automatically to qualified leads and hand them over seamlessly to Sales or indirect Channels who can manage qualified prospects through sales automation tools that are integrated with customer relationship management systems. But once more, without a cohesive, compelling story-telling thread in the content, as well as a sales force that fully internalizes AND embodies your Brand promise and product stories, the prospect will smell inauthenticity and insincerity. This inauthenticity slows progression or limits relationships to low-margin commodity transactions.
  6. Delivery and #7 Customer Support. From a “sign here” hand-off and “Call here if you run into any problems”, to in-depth technical implementation and service, coupled with multi-channel “post sale” customer care and social media listening for possible crises or unplanned opportunities. The possibilities from integrated delivery and support chains that incorporate quantitative surveys and qualitative analysis of social media chatter is quite compelling. But it is all for naught if your delivery and support teams are not providing high-touch, locally-provided, engagement-rich interactions.

In the 3rd and last post of this series, I'll take a look at examples I think are illustrative of the opportunities that can come from this marrying of the logical with the emotional, and the pitfalls that come from not doing so.

Photo - Jacques Pavlenyi - IBM

Jacques Pavlenyi, Senior Marketing Manager
IBM Collaboration Solutions

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