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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, August 21, 2017

Moosejaw CMO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Dan Pingree is the chief marketing officer of Moosejaw Mountaineering, where he oversees the outdoor retailer’s marketing initiatives, including search engine marketing, search engine optimization, email, photo, video, graphic design, content production and publishing, social media, brick and mortar marketing, catalogs, direct mail, A/B testing, and data analytics.
Moosejaw combines his love of e-commerce with a passion for the outdoors, and admits to owning doubles and triples of basically every piece of climbing equipment. He has held previous digital marketing and e-commerce leadership roles at Drugstore.com (Walgreen’s), Housevalues, and Microsoft and holds a Master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School. When not at work, he enjoys climbing, skiing, and trips with his family, the most recent of which was a trip to Cuba.
Pingree recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series. His topic is very timely: experiential marketing.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
In today’s retail environment where fierce competition abounds and continued retail bankruptcies dominate the business headlines, creating a notable, unique experience through various marketing activities has never been more important in defending against the assortment, convenience, and pricing pressures of Amazon. This is our focus every single day at Moosejaw.
We define “experiential marketing” as a series of marketing events or interactions that are unique and memorable to the customer and help him or her feel understood. This includes all touch points that a customer can have with Moosejaw, from initial introduction, site experience, emails, product recommendations, customer support, and even order packagin
One of the key attributes of surviving and thriving retailers over the next five to 10 years will be their ability to effectively and consistently deliver those unique and memorable interactions to customers.
2. Why is this so important?
Consolidation within retail is happening at a rapid rate. Amazon continues to put smaller pure plays out of business and is no doubt directly responsible for mall closures and big-box retailer downsizing. Amazon’s strength is within the transaction—that is, their assortment, aggressive pricing, and world-class logistics and delivery capabilities.
Retailers would do well not to attempt to “out-Amazon” Amazon but rather seek to build unique, notable experiences for their customers—experiences which help customers feel understood and valued at every touch point. Experiences that are consistent and unique, which other retailers—including Amazon—are not offering.
At Moosejaw, we sell outdoor clothing and gear, most of which is available at other retailers. Because of this, we have to constantly ask ourselves, “Why would somebody buy from Moosejaw?” The answer, of course, is because of the unique and notable experience Moosejaw offers its customers.
As we are successful with our experiential marketing efforts, I have no doubt that Moosejaw will be a strong, healthy retailer in the years to come, Amazon’s meteoric rise notwithstanding.
3. How can this improve the customer experience?
Experiential marketing enhances the customer experience because you’re creating interactions where you are demonstrating a clear understanding of who the customer is and what she wants. If it is known, based on your previous and current site browsing and past purchase history, that you like the Canada Goose brand, it doesn’t make any sense to show you promotions related to backpacks and climbing ropes. If you do, you may lose this customer forever because they feel misunderstood.
Every customer is an individual with unique tastes and preferences, and our marketing efforts must treat you as such. On the other hand, if the site experience involves changing the home page, search slots, navigation, and product detail pages by exposing the kinds of brands, categories, and offers that we know you like based on the data we’ve collected about you, we can create an experience that is welcoming, engaging, and worthy of your time.
Doing this well creates a differentiated experience versus every other retailer since nobody has truly cracked the code—yet. For all retailers big and small, there is a huge opportunity to win in this area. The slog is hard, long, and expensive, but ultimately those who figure it out will have a defensible position against the retail headwinds caused by Amazon.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Dollars spent on experiential marketing simply perform better than generic marketing. We’ve seen it repeatedly in our results in areas such as time spent on site, add-to-cart rates, conversion rates, open rates, click-through rates, and many others.
The challenge is that the upfront investment costs in technology and people—not to mention the time required to test and learn which experiences are most meaningful—are huge barriers to most companies. But those who stay committed to experiential marketing will find the reward to be well worth the investment.
Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
One of my favorite activities is alpine mountaineering. I love being outside, on high mountains, in beautiful and remote locations. I’ve been working on climbing the highest mountains of the seven continents, of which I’ve managed to climb three so far. I hope to complete them all before too long, including Mount Everest.
For additional Marketing Innovator stories, click here.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Companies That Thrive During Tough Times Share These Traits

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
In the same economy and same consumer market in which thousands of retailers and brands are struggling, others are thriving and growing. Why? What drives the outcome of "something went wrong" versus "things are going great"?
Their "secrets" become apparent by understanding who they are, who they serve, and how they connect with customers in a value-driven, sustainable way. It all starts at the very top.
"CEOs must create a culture where the key measure of success is the success of your customers," said Serge Saxonov, CEO of biotechnology company 10x Genomics. "To achieve that, the company must constantly seek unbiased, unadulterated, and blunt feedback from customers and prospects. That will keep the company from creating its own version of ‘marketplace reality.'"
Employees also factor into the equation. "CEOs must ensure that every employee cares passionately about the success of customers and make decisions based on ensuring that customers succeed," Saxonov told me. "This will drive the sustainable success and growth of the company."
Here's a look at three success traits traits driving success at a trio of top brands.
Success Factor #1: Meet A Clearly Defined Need
According to the Accenture study "Technology Trends 2017" (PDF), relationships are no longer about keeping customers happy as the company guides them toward a goal. Relationships will be about walking with people on a path they define.
In the very competitive fitness sector, Orangetheory Fitness has received the workout world's attention with 600 studios across the country and $450 million in revenue. To differentiate itself from competitors, Orangetheory Fitness aimed to satisfy the needs of high-tech, fitness-oriented consumers with a technology-driven solution that participants monitor to pinpoint the effectiveness of each workout.
"Technology enables the consumer to ... work out better. ... I think the lack of technology made it very hard for people to hit their fitness goals," said CEO David Long.
Findings from 16,000-plus hours of VoC research interviews conducted by our firm, ERDM, make it evident that success depends, in large measure, on understanding what it takes to earn the customer relationship. Consider these representative quotes from the research:
  • "It's not just what we buy from you; it is the total experience that determines whether we buy from you again ... or go to the many other choices in your category."
  • "If you want to keep me as a customer, I expect what you market to me to reflect my individual interests and preferences."
Success Factor #2: Abandon The Ego Of ‘That's How We Do It'
According to John Rand, senior vice president of retail insights for Kantar Retail, "As a response to the many obvious challenges to the traditional business ... seek to differentiate, adopt new practices, and reconsider the brand and shopper focus."
A few years ago, Lego's CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp told colleagues, "We are on a burning platform ... [and] likely won't survive." Recently, however, the company announced the highest revenues in its 85-year history. What made the difference? Perhaps Julia Goldin, Lego's chief marketing officer, has the answer: "Every year [we] recruit every child again and make the brand exciting for them."
Two key strategies that keep Lego ahead of the game are:
  • It cut its losses and outsourced ventures that were outside of its core expertise: According to Simon Cotterrell of analytics firm Interbrand, what has made Lego successful comes from knowing what it is good at. "That's a very brave thing to do, and it's where a lot of companies go wrong," he said. "They don't understand that sometimes it's better to let go than to hang on."
  • The company found new ways to listen to its customers: Anne Flemmert Jensen, senior director of Lego's Global Insights group, noted, "My team spends all our time travelling around the world, talking to kids and their families, and participating in their daily lives." The company also rolled out Lego Life, a social network for kids.
Success Factor #3: Don't Just Market--Understand And Communicate
Urban Outfitters has experienced an 146% increase in revenue and 75% gain in conversions through the use of new, personalized marketing opportunities and innovative use of tools, such as very targeted location data.
"Our goal is to provide better experiences for our audience in this competitive landscape," said Andrew Rauch, senior director of global digital marketing at Urban Outfitters. Additionally, Trish Donnelly, CEO of Urban Outfitters Group, commented on the brand's use of social to connect: "This channel has given us yet another relevant way to connect with our customers and engage in two-way conversations."
In summary, a combination of clarity of vision and focus, agility, and strategies that stress connections and relationships that evolve over time with customers is what separates companies that still thrive in a landscape of tough times versus those that don't. This final quote from the VoC research says it all: "The brands that earn my loyalty are those that make the effort to understand me and help me over time. The brands that sell and disappear haven't done anything to earn my loyalty and dollars."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Does Your Brand Experience Align with Customers’ Voices? Elizabeth Arden Shows How

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
“Our leaders quickly realized that before we could use digital to transform our customers and the world, we needed to transform ourselves.” This according to General Electric Co. CMO, Linda Boff, “Over the last few years the company changed its way of doing business at every level. And, per Boff, “When we apply these technologies in our teams and facilities, our customers and markets can reach their potential.”
“Listening” has been the industry buzz word for years and is key to building relationships for both BtoB and BtoC businesses. And although many companies have put in place extensive systems for “listening” very few are responding to what they are “hearing.”
So, the action companies must take is to share customer listening insights across all departments involved in product development and marketing. They must ensure that the actual brand experience and products align with BtoB and BtoC customer’s voices.
Elizabeth Arden Goes Inside to Get Insights
Going beyond traditional focus groups has been a strategy for beauty company, Elizabeth Arden who looks to their “Arden Insiders,” insight community of more than 4,000 women, to inform the direction of innovation and critical product and design decisions. Utilizing consumer opinions and feedback, the company can make educated decisions to stay aligned with consumer sentiment.
Celia Tombalakian, the senior director of global insights and product development commented on their new customer-insight driven marketing, “…[The] Customer intelligence platform allows us not only to identify our customer’s likes and dislikes…but to stay current on who she is and where she is going from a beauty point of view—typical focus groups or questionnaires just can’t capture this.”
The company uses this insight group to test copy, print ad concepts, promotional offerings, product claims, model photography, and branding and new product ideas. The feedback drives decisions on all aspects of creative and design. Per Tombalakian, “We launched our community as a one-year pilot and within the six months we were discussing plans for geographic expansion. The ROI was very apparent to all stakeholders.”
The company uses real time feedback on initiatives they are working on through their Arden Insiders insight community customer intelligence platform. Noted Tombalakian, “Arden Insiders transformed how we are making many decisions…this is critical because they can weave [the customer] point of view through all stages of product or program development rather than just key junctions.”
The company also implemented a dedicated market research and customer insight department to assure that their customers’ voice is incorporated in all decisions. Tombalakian summed up the investment payoff, “We launched our community as a one-year pilot and within the six months we were discussing …expansion. The ROI was very apparent to all stakeholders.”
Use Insights to Connect
Findings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews indicate that customers want deeper engagement throughout their brand lifecycle. This means that marketers should utilize Voice of Customer (VoC) insights from your customers and prospects to improve their experience during all these key points: acquisition, activation, loyalty—and critically, deepening the relationship.
Here are a few quotes from recent VoC research to consider as you develop your strategies:
“When a supplier proactively works to understand my needs, we can develop a personal connection. That forms the basis of a long-term relationship that will remain when we are approached by their competitors or have the occasional problem with their solution.”
“I appreciate you asking for feedback and clearly listening and taking action based on what we are saying. Very few companies ask for our opinions regarding how they can get better and what I would like to see them do. That’s cool. It means you are trying to get bigger and better.”
It’s not just BtoC companies that are seeing results from customer listening, BtoB brands such as GE have devised campaigns to target niche audiences to gain insights on sentiment. GE’s #CC9900 GEEKS GO campaign connected with coders in a challenge environment on social media that used a game-style conversation to spark interactions.
Make Listening an Everyday Marketing Practice
In a research report by Wharton, Listening to the Online ‘Voice of the Customer’, the following points were cited:
  • Large online customer discussions boards carry the potential to revolutionize the world of market research, offering businesses a massive and free data base of what customers think about their products.
  • Traditional surveys and focus groups are flawed because the process of identifying the specific product attributes in a customer survey [are] typically guided by company marketing managers, [and] often ignore issues being raised by customers. In addition, focus groups might not always reach the most passionate and engaged customers who are voluntarily discussing products and brands on the Internet.
  • [There are] “unseen attributes of a product” – that is, issues that buyers are discussing which executives back at the headquarters are not even aware of.
The takeaway for brands is that actual customer sentiment needs to be a prime focus and that listening (rather than assuming or modeling) must become a regular part of everyday marketing practices.