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Using Technology to Improve Your Marketing Ecosystem

By Feb 23, 2011

In today’s marketing environment, product life cycles are shorter, audiences are more connected and markets are more complex and globally distributed. These new challenges make embracing the need for real-time solutions a strategic priority.

Throughout 2010, the CMO Council hosted a series of roundtable discussions and more than 25 one-on-one interviews with leading senior marketers to discuss how top brands are dealing with the heightened pace of technology change and the demand for greater market insight. From the resulting research study, “Unify to Multiply Marketing Ecosystem Effectiveness,” here are 10 ways to create value for your marketing ecosystem:

1. Break down functional silos.
Breaking down functional fiefdoms can be just as tough as taking down the Berlin Wall. Department heads—marketing, demand gen, advertising, sales, interactive, research/analytics, etc.—tend to resist the diminution of control and the blending of assets aimed at realizing common business goals. The new reality of integrated, multi-level, multichannel marketing has yet to be embraced by many organizations, but new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms for mapping, allocating and measuring the marketing mix are sure to help.

2. Institutionalize the use of data analytics.
Companies don’t lack data, whether it is transactional, behavioral, attitudinal or demographic. What they lack is the expertise to extract meaningful, predictable and actionable insight from that customer information. Too frequently, there is no established analytics team, a lack of standardized practices and frameworks, and no centralized capabilities. Analytically driven campaigns by marketing leaders, such as P&G, Kimberly-Clark and Visa, are establishing new standards for others to follow. Analytics will also be an essential ingredient in the rapidly emerging fields of shopper marketing, behavior-based advertising, mobile relationship marketing and neurobranding.

3. Provide market insights and intelligence on-demand.
With the mandate for greater marketing intelligence, smart companies are embracing new online tools to enhance brand protection, monitor corporate reputations, and track factors like tonality of customer conversations. Integrating intelligence and making it accessible across global organizations has become critical. This improves the quality of decisions across the marketing ecosystem and reduces redundant or irrelevant market research spend.

4. Transfer best practice knowledge worldwide.
Often, the most innovative marketing approaches take place in the regional or emerging markets where inspiration and perspiration must offset budget limitations and the challenges of localization. Local “centers of excellence” that focus on best practices and knowledge transfer can elevate marketing performance and bring consistency to marketing protocols across diverse agencies worldwide. Leveraging online learning, collaboration networks and having global group meetings can improve overall brand development.

5. Synchronize supply and demand side operations.
Forecasting product demand, managing inventory levels, and tracking sell-in and sell-through numbers are problematic for many marketers still attached to old fashioned spreadsheets. Too often, companies are caught flat-footed with an over-abundance or paucity of product in the production pipeline. The need for back-end business intelligence combined with transactional data, competitive pricing dynamics and shopper marketing realities has never been greater.

6. Add discipline and rigor to campaign design, development, testing and delivery.
Time-to-market is the new mantra as windows of market opportunity open and close more rapidly. Meeting new product launch demands has never been more intense. Verifying effectiveness of campaign strategies before major investment is now essential to justifying spend. At the heart of campaign effectiveness today is customer engagement. Targeting and interacting with customer audiences across multiple channels, geographies and purchasing environments brings new levels of complexity that are increasingly managed online. Go-to-market approaches must also accommodate sophisticated “brand logistics” that support and amplify messaging at point-of-sale or service.

7. Ensure brand consistency, compliance and digital asset control.
The race to project a global face is putting pressure on marketers to create centralized online repositories of pre-approved brand assets and content elements (logos, identity guides, campaign components, collaterals, etc.). These can be quickly and cost-efficiently accessed and localized by marketing teams and agencies pressed to execute campaigns more nimbly and productively. Ensuring consistency of brand messaging, policies, and visual identity are essential to rights management, customer experience, business compliance and risk reduction. Fighting trademark trespassing online, as well as combating new forms of copyright infringement and cyber fraud, is forcing marketers to contract with dedicated resources to protect brand reputation and credibility.

8. Power the pipeline across lead acquisition, cultivation and closing cycles.
Increasing the quality, quantity and timeliness of leads, as well as delivering more sales ready opportunities, requires greater investment in demand generation solutions and/or cloud-based, on-demand systems. Better targeting, segmentation and personalization through advanced customer data and analytics are central to this mandate. Leading the marketing automation wave are SaaS platforms, which typically include CRM databases, email marketing, lead nurturing, behavior tracking, social sharing, event management and multi-channel communications, as well as campaign performance analytics.

9. Maximize customer relationships.
The rapid acceptance of Internet-based social media has engendered profound changes in customer markets and business cultures, totally influencing how companies communicate, innovate, cross-pollinate and deliver support across critical internal and external audiences. Social media and community platforms are spawning new practices in product and idea development, customer-driven support, market intelligence gathering, problem resolution and brand message proliferation.

10. Institute closed-loop performance measurement systems.
Effective demand generation campaigns for both B-to-B and B-to-C markets have to be massively data-driven, highly automated, more personalized and targeted, and diligently measured with continuous contact and cultivation. ROI metrics are no longer just about reach, frequency, recognition and CPM rates. They are much more about relevancy, response, recurring relationships and business return. Today’s marketing planning process requires better data integration and analytics, more accurate predictive modeling, higher levels of group participation and accountability, and the deployment of closed loop campaign performance dashboards.

Donovan Neale-May is the executive director of the CMO Council.