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End-to-End Marketing Part 3: Creative examples, good and bad

Jacques Pavlenyi - IBM

As I wrote about in the first and second posts of this 3-post series, I've come to believe that the advent of the “science of marketing” doesn't have to mean the wholesale switch in power from the Creatives to the Quants. The marrying of data-driven and automated workflows with creative and emotion-driven design and execution, is where I see leaders shine today, and where the competitive winners will come from tomorrow.

The pitfalls are pretty clear. I think outsourcing customer lifecycle stages is going to be replaced by outsourcing the technology but maintaining the people and process in-house. In the age of the empowered customer, I think Brands are realizing that Marketing has to remain a core competency, even if the underlying technology platform is supplied by a partner.

Just look at how major brands like Dell and others have been slowly re-onshoring their support and service teams because customers were clearly turned off by distant call centers populated with basically robotic script readers, in many cases no better than the maddening voice-response systems (“ 2 if you don't like the answer I just gave you to first try rebooting your computer...”). People, for better or worse, want and need some kind of emotional connection to the people they are talking to. In the high-touch stages of the customer lifecycle in particular, engaged employees who genuinely care about the customer and embody the Brand's culture are going to win.

I like to share an example of a Brand outsourcing to their detriment. About 5 years ago, I had the distinct misfortune of once ordering a new washing machine from Sears. They at the time outsourced their delivery to 3rd-party trucking companies. The struggles I had with late deliveries, poor installation, and unhelpful service calls to this 3rd party only damaged my relationship with Sears. I didn't care the delivery wasn't actually done by Sears. For me, it was all part of the “Sears” experience. And therefore, it was their marketing team's responsibility to understand how that vendor relationship was benefiting or hurting the Sears Brand. Sadly, I just heard of another example last month from good friends of mine, again with Sears' subcontractor (and therefore Sears) messing up the delivery phase. Apparantly they haven't learned.

I also like to share good examples I think are illustrative of success. One example of success that I liked was CenturyLink. They were awarded the BtoB “Peoples' Choice” award for Social Media Marketing. They used unique storytelling and game play to engage with prospects for business communications services. It was both a very creative use of storytelling, and heavy on quantification, data integration and marketing automation. While no data was provided on the actual sales that resulted from the campaign, clearly they touched a positive nerve and engendered a lot of positive brand equity.

Another I liked was USG. Their agency, Gyro, was awarded the Business Marketing Association B2 Award 2011 for an integrated campaign “The weight has been lifted”. The creativity of the storytelling was outstanding and emotionally relevant to their target audiences. And it was integrated within a cross-channel campaign that leveraged multiple technologies (content syndication, social media, web, and more). The results in the first few weeks alone showed that Home Depot was selling 1 lightweight wallboard panel for every three traditional panels.

And I couldn't resist US Cellular, which uses marketing automation software from IBM to improve campaign volume and targeting, reduces costs, and frees up limited marketing resources to focus on creativity and campaign design, rather than manual processes.  

What does this mean for the average marketer? For me, at least, there are 3 particular areas where the marrying of technology and creativity are changing the way I execute my job.

1.  Free your time by automating repetitive tasks. Yes, it does take some time away for a short while from the creative aspects. But by finding a way of getting out of spreadsheets and manual processes, in the long run it frees up your mind for more strategic and creative aspect. Which are more fun, anyway.

2.  Look for integration points. As someone wise once told me, “innovation happens at the seams”. A lot of the innovation and consolidation happening in marketing technology today is about integrating the various steps more holistically and organically. This better collaboration between marketing, communications, sales, support and supply chain functions improves handoffs and decreases lost or irritated customers.

3.  In the rush for metrics, don't forget storytelling; and as a storyteller, don't forget to measure (and act upon) your results. Marketing is entering an exciting, unique time. With my engineering background, I often railed against the overly creative aspects of the industry that weren't interested (or able) to report back to the business if all that effort was actually accomplishing anything. Today, less than ever, marketers have no excuse to not measure outcomes. But like Finance, if you let the Quants take over completely, the humanity of your endeavor is lost. So find a way to marry the two.

With all this talk about the marrying of tech with emotion, I am very excited about the upcoming April 25th SoCal BMA event, “Increasing Profits by Delivering Great Customer Experience: The 6 Disciplines for Achieving the Full Business Potential". Kerry Bodine, VP & Principal Analyst, Customer Experience from Forrester Research is a highly respected speaker in the customer experience area for Forrester, so I have a feeling this will be an exciting conversation.

Photo - Jacques Pavlenyi - IBM

Jacques Pavlenyi, Senior Marketing Manager
IBM Collaboration Solutions

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