Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, June 22, 2015

CMOs Must Shift Focus from Transactions to "Addictive Experiences"

Customers become brand partnersCustomers become "brand partners" when companies shift from treating them as transactions to creating addictive experiences which meet and exceed customer's needs.
Following are important findings from a new study on loyalty conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and Forrester Research analyst Tina Moffet:
  • 58% of marketers were dissatisfied with their loyalty programs. And according to Moffet, that's due to a majority still in an "earn and burn mentality."
  • 52% of marketers find it hard to understand customers across touch points.
  • Marketers also noted that personalizing offers, content, and experiences based on behavior is a "big challenge."
Lululemon Creates “Addictive” Experiences
Yoga apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica not only has a legion of loyal brand ambassadors but, its customers have taken things one step further, by creating a host of blogs and communities of self-identified brand “addicts.”
The company, whose products seldom go on sale, has incorporated its merchandise and culture into customer's yoga lifestyles at a very deep level. From its bricks and mortar stores, social, web, apps, events, and community causes, the company actively presents consumers with numerous ways to become a part of their own brand experience. In addition to their actual product offerings, the company provides in-store and local yoga classes, on-line education and resources to get involved in everything from retreats to what the company calls its “Metta Movement,” a grassroots community philanthropy program.
Their strategy is resonating with consumers, with the company recently reporting that net revenue for the quarter increased 10%. Laurent Potdevin, Lululemon's CEO, stated: "Our team’s solid performance resulted in another improving quarter – coming in ahead of our revenue expectations. We drove positive trends in traffic, conversion, and brand engagement.”
Walgreens Becomes Part of the Healthcare Experience
According to Adam Pellegrini, Walgreens’s vice president for digital health, “We want people to come in and do more than just pick up their prescription or some milk, but really have part of their healthcare experience within that location.”
Pellegrini continues, “…part of our digital health approach is to focus on delivering that experience on customers’ terms… They should be able to pick up their smart phone, open up the Walgreen’s mobile app, and talk to a local provider via our telemedicine experience… Walgreens will be a member of our customers’ virtual care team…”
This strategy is confirmed by CMO, Sona Chawla, “Our mission was to think about what customers were doing and how we could improve it…. We think about advertising as storytelling for our brand. It’s part of the Walgreens experience, not something separate. Our advertising needs to be connected all the way through the customer journey, not just at the start... We use a very customer-centric lens to move from just managing channels to get to a place where we are leveraging everything we have to deliver, and delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time, through the right channel…. It helps build customer loyalty and spreads the message of who we are and what we care about. Ultimately, it’s about these connected brand experiences that tell the story. Advertising is just a part of that.”
The company’s Balance Rewards program has 82 million members.
3 TakeAways
1. Develop a culture of "brand partners" by changing your focus from transactions to truly memorable customer experiences.
2. Create easily accessible ways for customers and prospects to get involved and incorporate the brand into their lifestyle.
3. Create reasons for customers and prospects to engage with you across every element of the mix, including web, bricks and mortar, apps and social.
If you provide exceptional value, consumers will be motivated to actively seek out your company because they will be rewarded with deeply relevant experiences.

Monday, June 8, 2015

3 Ways to Re-ignite the Bond with Current Customers

Article by Ernan Roman. Featured on CMO.com and HuffingtonPost.com
The Huffington Post
Most companies take existing customers for granted. They make 3 deadly assumptions; customers understand everything about your products, you know everything about your customers and, customers feel you are so special that they will be yours forever.
So, here are the 3 things never to think about your existing customers:
"Our customers understand our products." (They probably don’t.)
"We know everything we need to know about our customers."(You probably don’t)
"They love us, they’ll never leave." (Not unless you nailed points A & B!)
Direct Mail Enriches Customer ExperienceFindings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research conducted by our firm reveal that consumers feel it is not their responsibility to tell marketers what they need. They feel strongly that it is marketer's responsibility to ask, listen and respond with information, experiences and offers which will earn their loyalty. Furthermore, they expect that this high-quality customer engagement must be maintained throughout the relationship. [Tweet this.]
Following are three ways to re-ignite the bond with current customers;
1. Intuit says, “Become a Go-To Customer Resource”
Intuit knows that understanding its audience is crucial for success. That is why they created two separate blogs for its two types of customers; BtoB and BtoC.
Its BtoC blog, Mint.com, is a resource for managing personal finances and general tips and even shopping info. Additionally at the beginning of the year, Intuit teamed up with Turbo Tax for a consumer education campaign.
In its BtoB blog they write about topics such as, “Become a Go-To Customer Resource to Increase Sales.” The company also has the ProAdvisor program, that helps professionals get the education they need to help their own clients.
2. Adidas Reconnects With U.S. Consumers
Adidas President Mark King noted he "has taken a no-holds-barred approach to reconnect with American consumers. “The biggest thing that's changed is the mindset… we have to be more in tune with the U.S. consumer. There is a shared belief that we have to do things differently."
Adidas incorporated lifestyle campaigns in their U.S. consumer win back campaign with celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, in the "Yeezy" sneaker ads which sold out via a special app even before its official launch.
3. United Healthcare Identifies with Consumer's Pain Points
United Healthcare recently launched its first national ad campaign, which pokes fun at the complicated U.S. health-care system. Called "Way In," the campaign comically helps consumers navigate the complicated healthcare system with the goal of recognition, building trust and earning recommendations.
United took the time to understand consumer's frustrations. "Consumers need to be more engaged in health care…We know consumers are frustrated. If we can demonstrate that…we can connect with them" stated Andrew Mackenzie, chief marketing officer at United Healthcare.
The campaign, which launched in May includes TV, radio, digital and social ads.
3 TakeAways
1. Never assume that customers or prospects understand the benefits and features of your products. Education is the key to consumption—use your marketing to educate not just promote!
2. If you have not done deep research with customers and lost accounts within the past 9 months, you are missing critical insights regarding their rapidly changing needs and expectations.
3. Never assume that your customers are satisfied. Go the extra mile to provide actionable measures that prove you're constantly looking to improve customer experience. Develop multiple points for customer feedback.
In summary, when it comes to your existing customers, assumption and complacency are dangerous things. Be sure that you and your customers understand each other and know each other. Always be searching for ways to meet consumer's changing needs and evolving life stage requirements.

Monday, June 1, 2015

3 Keys for Experiential Marketing Effectiveness

The Huffington Post Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on HuffingtonPost.com
Customers want their voices heard like never before. [Tweet this] They want to know that their concerns are acknowledged. They want to know that their wants are being met. And, they want to know that they are an active part of their chosen brands, digitally or physically.
3 Keys for Experiential Marketing EffectivenessExperiential marketing is the delivery method to meet these “wants.” It is a necessity because consumers demand to be “in” on what is going on or they are “out” and moving on to another avenue.
1. Listen & Communicate
There have been a few big stories on casual dining in the last few weeks that bring the strategy of engaging with customers to light.
Fast food chain Chipotle realized that the GMO issue was a hot button for their clientele. This spurred the chain to become the first to cut the controversial ingredients. And it seems that listening to their customers is paying off for Chipotle as its stock rose 1.65% with an upgrade to "outperform” status.
Another company putting customer experience front and center is Avis, with its, “What Drives You” Campaign, which tells the personal journey of 7 accomplished professionals. According to Jeannine Haas, Chief Marketing Officer,” [It] is a cutting-edge approach to advertising and brand-building that is right at the forefront of how leading companies are communicating with their customers today.”
The campaign also included a social element that let followers communicate by submitting their own personal achievement story for a chance to win a BMW and a mentoring session with two of the seven executives featured in the campaign.
2. Acknowledge Needs & Deliver Innovative Solutions
Amazon knew that its customers often ran out of needed products.
To acknowledge this need and offer a solution, the company recently launched “Dash” a Wi-Fi enabled physical button pre-programmed with a specific replenishment order for 18 major brands. One push transmits the order directly to Amazon. Talk about innovation!
3. Offer Opportunities for Involvement
Consumers like to be in charge of their own brand experience. And,Target gives consumers the opportunity to vote on available Cartwheel savings offers. Whether, as a tie in to holidays, or for its one year Cartwheel anniversary, Target has come up with ways for consumers to get in on the action by scrolling through a rolling banner and clicking on the vote button to make their opinions heard. The offer with the most votes becomes a valid cartwheel offer.
Since its launch, over 7.7 million users have used the app to save over $84 million. Additionally, its integration with Facebook enables users to share their favorite offers to with friends. Casey Carl, president of omni-channel at Target noted, “…we listen to feedback from guests and act on it to continually…”
3 TakeAways
1. Consumers have strongly felt concerns and opinions that can positively or negatively influence and impact perception of your brand. When you actively align with consumers and engage in open communication, you define your brand as responsive and caring.
2. Listen to your employee feedback and customer comments to fully grasp pain points so that you can develop value-based experiences that demonstrate you are listening.
3. Create ongoing strategies that enable you to react and respond in a timely manner with omnichannel updates or upgrades that provide customers with a high quality experiences in every channel of your business.
By listening, acknowledging and involving customers you are inviting them to incorporate your brand into their life. Mastering this critical type of engagement is the essential ingredient that sparks successful customer experiences.