4 Tips on Driving Meaningful Marketing Change From IBM Microsoft and LVMH Execs

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Key Takeaways

What? Traditional "brand-first" marketing approaches are a concept of the past, forward-thinking marketing executives are putting the customer experience front and center.

So what? To successfully drive change in our digital-first, customer-driven world, marketing leaders recommend that you invest time and resources into reinventing approaches to people, processes, data and technology.

Now what? To learn how CMOs from IBM, Nasdaq, Microsoft and more are adapting to a customer-first approach, download, "The Customer-First Future of Marketing."


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Learn how companies like Microsoft, LVMH, and IBM are approaching marketing strategy and digital transformation to drive meaningful change within their organization.

To keep up with the ever-expanding number of customer touch points and communication channels and effectively meet the demands of connected and empowered customers, forward-thinking marketing leaders must press reset on their traditional marketing approaches.

When we spoke with marketing executives about driving marketing transformation within their respective organizations, their responses centered around a singular focus: customer experience. And according to new research, customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key differentiator for a brand.

Given the current landscape, however, this feat is far easier said than done. Without a comprehensive strategy for reaching, engaging and listening to customers, it’s impossible for businesses to bridge the gap between the experiences customers expect and the ones they’re currently receiving.

As Grad Conn, General Manager and CMO of Microsoft USA, explains: “Here’s the rub: every company is structured 1980s style. For decades, we’ve been building out complex processes and robust silos. But now we’re waking up to a new dawn in business – and we’re all realizing that we need to operate in a non-siloed way.”

“Every company out there is undergoing digital transformation right now. But real transformation can’t just be a new piece of software. It has to be mindset transformation, organizational transformation, and technology transformation,” he continues.


1. Mindset Reset: Brand-first to Customer-first

Marketing transformation, at its core, represents a monumental shift in mindset. It requires organizations to acknowledge the shortcomings of the traditional marketing approach, abandon their brand-first focus, reevaluate priorities and place customers at the center of everything they do.

“Customers want to work with companies that work the way they work,” says Conn. “I think this real idea of customer centricity is that it takes into account that all customers have unique and different ways of communicating and different preferences. They may have multiple preferences, and those preferences may change. What you have to do as a company is be able to embrace that full garden of preferences, and be able to respond to it in the way the customers want.”

For Ian Rogers, Chief Digital Officer of LVMH, resetting the marketing mindset starts with reframing the current shift as a cultural phenomenon:

“We are a culture business, so if I can re-contextualize digital and marketing transformation as cultural transformation, I think there’s a lot to be gained. What we’re really doing is encouraging people to think not about the technology, not about digital, but about the cultural transformation and the customer experience.”

Already, marketing executives at some of the most well-known companies around the world are embracing customer-first marketing. While no two transformation journeys are exactly alike, executives across a wide range of industries reveal several common elements to their stories: In order to get to the ideal state of marketing and consistently meet expectations in our digital-first, customer-driven world, these companies have all invested time and resources into reinventing their approaches to people, processes, data and technology.   

2. Collaborative Teams


Creating a plan starts with involving the right people. For many enterprises, because investing in digital and social represents a vast departure from the way they’ve traditionally approached marketing, a learning curve is inevitable. Hiring and training the right people, and in some cases, reevaluating team structures, are essential building blocks for any enterprise pursuing customer-first marketing.

“One of the first steps to becoming a customer-centric organization involves uniting previously disparate teams across the enterprise,” says Conn. “We see companies looking to digitally transform, recognize that they’ve got to operate from a single customer-centric point of view. It’s a fundamental shift across the organization and in some cases, a complete re-architecting of how they engage with customers.”

Uniting teams around a common, customer-centric vision was also a critical component of Nasdaq’s recent transformation journey. By using customer research as the crux of its revamped marketing approach, all of the company’s different business areas were able to work together to reshape the company’s brand narrative and vastly improve customer engagement.

“Client research allowed us to build relationships by going into each business area and tell them we are truly focused on their success as a business,” says Jeremy Skule, CMO of Nasdaq. “For us to be successful, we need to know what clients across our entire network think, feel, have issues with and want more of. Then we can take out the subjective viewpoints and get aligned on delivering a great experience for our clients.”


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3. Streamlined Processes


For many large enterprises that have to operate across businesses, markets and product lines, streamlining processes can be a significant obstacle to marketing transformation.

Over the past five years, Nasdaq has been on a rigorous transformation journey, both from a brand and business standpoint. One of its main objectives was to build a seamless and scalable process for interacting with customers. Although the company was creating large volumes of content, disparate processes across its business units were keeping the company from having meaningful and valuable interactions with clients. By organizing its content and shifting its focus to thematics, Nasdaq has been able to increase ROI, create more value for its clients, and reshape the perception of its brand.

“There wasn’t a centralized, organized workflow for client interactions with the brand,” says Skule. “I want to say we had maybe 20,000 followers across our social channels because every business, every person, was doing their own thing. We now have 2.5 million across all those social channels, organized by key thematics that are core to our businesses and our brand. These thematics provide key funnels for our content distribution and enable us to interact with our clients and prospects in a positive and constructive way.”

At LVMH, which consists of a diverse network of businesses, all at different levels of maturity, identifying common gaps and challenges and using this knowledge to streamline processes is critical to marketing success.

“We have a network of 4,000 physical stores across 70 brands,” says Rogers. “We have a massive wholesale network that looks incredibly different between watches and jewelry, wine and spirits and fashion and leather goods. So we need to look across these things, find what the common problems are and put together deliverables for the specific problems.”

Taking pages out of the playbooks of these marketing leaders can help enterprises formulate their own plans for marketing transformation.


4. Integrated Data and Technology


CMOs have more data at their disposal than ever before, and the opportunities to use this data to personalize and customize customer experiences are unprecedented.

“We live in an incredibly data-intensive, data-rich environment,” says Michelle Peluso, Chief Marketing Officer of IBM. “There’s so much more we can do when we think about demand generation and understanding customers.”

At IBM, customer data comes from a wide range of sources on an everyday basis. Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures a customer’s willingness to recommend the company, its products and services to a friend or colleague. Traditional funnel analytics, behavioral analytics, social listening data and even “dark data” – data that exists, but is not used because it’s typically undiscovered, unstructured and not yet analyzed, such as video, logs and social comments – all contain valuable insights into IBM’s customer base. Without the proper integration, connecting the dots and tying all this data back to individual customers and creating richer profiles can be a challenge.

“Having a thoughtful approach to customer identification and customer profiling is critical,” says Peluso. “Moving forward, we need to first be thinking about how we continue to unlock insight and data. Second, how can we connect all the things we’re learning back to individual customers to form richer profiles? This is where AI and cognitive learning become super critical because you can only make connections between No. 1 and No. 2 when you have systems that can cultivate all this information, find the right insights and turn them into meaningful action.”

At Nasdaq, an initial technology audit helped Skule and his team identify opportunities to replace legacy systems with nimbler solutions, reduce costs and reallocate resources to set the organization up for long-term success. The results of this audit led Nasdaq to revamp two key technology areas that would help them be more customer-centric: social engagement and the lead generation process.

“We overhauled our content management system to get our web presence better aligned,” says Skule. “The aggregation of content into one central blog that was searchable and digestible, the building of scale within our social, and the fact that we have an ecosystem in our web presence that allows clients to seamlessly navigate the Nasdaq portfolio and find the information they need – all these things were first and foremost.”


 
 

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Author Bio:

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Sprinklr
<p>Sprinklr is a social media management platform (SMM)that provides digital transformation solutions for enterprise businesses, with a focus on customer-first.</p>
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