Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, October 23, 2017

Learn from Innovators Transforming Companies to Align with Customers

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
Summary: For years brands told consumers “YOU play by OUR rules.” Now, innovative companies are transforming themselves and developing new products/services built specifically to deliver on the changing needs of customers.
Consumers are increasingly disconnecting from brands that do not go the extra mile to understand their needs and are flocking to brands that do take the time to understand them.
VoC research we have conducted indicates that consumers feel that actions which demonstrate a commitment to personalization and value, build strong ties and reinforce loyalty. Conversely, when consumers feel that brands do not understand them, or fail to meet their needs, then the brand relationship is weakened and often, irreversibly damaged.
To connect with consumers, the following innovators are developing game changing methods of meeting consumer’s needs.
1. Test. Evaluate. Expand.
Nordstrom did a test run of their Reserve Online & Try In Store as a pilot and it was so successful that 80 percent of shoppers who tried it continued to use the service multiple times. So now the company is expanding the program. Consumers can select the service from the website’s product detail page. They then receive both a text notification when their items are ready to try on at their nearest location as well as an in-store notification to locate their dedicated dressing room.
Per Shea Jensen, senior vice president of customer experience at Nordstrom, “Many of our customers like to feel and try on clothes and shoes before they purchase them and we’re excited to offer them a more convenient way to do so.”
Nordstrom’s innovative use of multi-channel engagement with consumers is just one of the reasons the company has seen 45% year-over-year growth for its in-store pickup options in 2016 as well as being one of the only department stores to see positive results in its latest quarter.
2. Anticipate What Consumers Want, and then Deliver.
Apoorva Mehta founded the same-day grocery delivery start-up Instacart to meet an unmet need. “It was 2012, people were ordering everything online, meeting people online, watching movies online, yet the one thing everyone has to do every single week — buying groceries — we still do in an archaic way,” he said. So, he came up with the idea for an on-demand grocery delivery platform. The strategy behind Instacart has been to, “… innovative and respond to challenges creatively.”
Mehta noted that, “if you use new technologies or look at the problem in a different way, you can come up with a solution that’s much, much better … I liked putting myself in a position where I had to learn about an industry and try to solve problem.”
3. Don’t Compromise Brand Standards
On Amazon’s first day as owner of Whole Foods they spent their efforts cutting prices as much as 43%. This move is a direct action to demonstrate that they are serious in their promise to change the way customers shop for groceries. Amazon also understands that they can make changes, but they need to maintain the Whole Foods reputation.
“Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality – we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer.
The company has also rolled out new services specifically for its Amazon Prime members such as its selection of 17 new Amazon Fresh meal kits, access to exclusive deals and benefits. 365 Everyday Value, Whole Paws, and Whole Catch, can be purchased via Amazon’s Prime Pantry and Prime Now food delivery programs and Prime members will be able to order food items online and pick up at an Amazon Lockers at their nearest Whole Foods.
In summary, the new bottom line is knowing customer’s needs so completely that you can transform your business to innovate and create new services that break unchartered ground in customer experience engagement and value.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tumi's CDO Answers 4 Questions For Digital Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Charlie Cole, chief digital officer of Tumi, has been overseeing and developing the luggage and travel accessory brand's global e-commerce and digital platforms since 2015. When Samsonite acquired Tumi last year, he also took on the official role of global chief e-commerce officer, which includes oversight of global strategy for brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister, Hartmann, Gregory, and High Sierra.
Prior to Tumi, Cole held various leadership positions, including CEO of The Line and head of e-commerce for Lucky Brand and Schiff Nutrition.
Cole recently participated in our "4 Questions for Digital Innovators" series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
The balance of art and science in marketing is the single most important topic to make sure I am open to being self-critical and constantly evolving my thinking. When I was younger, I believed that nothing was more sacrosanct than listening to the numbers, and if you did that, you'd be fine. However, I've realized that at a premium brand, in particular, everything starts with creative and merchandising–and your job as a marketer is to support that, not overrule that.
This requires reciprocation. Merchandisers and creative directors need to be open to analytical feedback and evolve as well. I have framed this to other people as: Creative and merchandising set the guardrails, and it is my job to widen those guardrails as much as possible through education provided by the digital marketing sphere.
This is a big ask for a lot of marketers: You're not the center of the universe, and you are, in fact, a service department. It's very normal for marketers to be fairly exalted in business because we get to do a lot of sexy stuff. But, in reality, we are a support industry, not the driving function.
2. Why is this so important?
You can't be binary. You are seeing the ultimate personification of this taking place in the e-commerce ecosystem today. Amazon–arguably the greatest analytically driven company in history–is struggling to penetrate the luxury market. Brands rightfully fear Amazon's completely democratic approach to brand protection. While this may be a bit unpopular to say, great brands still drive the conversation. Yes, social listening and feedback is important, but the fact of the matter is people still wait for truly special brand newness.
If you are not self-aware and don't evolve, you will lose. The scariest thing? We're not talking about losing your job. We're talking about losing your career. If all you are is a brand marketer who can't listen to numbers or just a brilliant analytical marketer with no respect for the brand you're supporting, you're a dinosaur and more likely already dead.
3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The customer is the big winner. You get creativity, inspiration, and aspiration, and then it's mixed with evolution and personalization as you engage with the brand further. My mom bought me a pair of Air Jordans when I was 9 years old, and now I'm 34 and can design my own Nikes! Talk about a win for me.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Customers will get what they didn't expect, what they didn't know they needed, and then practically give you the playbook on how to continue to market to them. For companies, you have to let your artists take the first guess; that's their job. Raw, pure creation. From there you can invest in iteration–which means investing in analytics plus science. If you balance those two things, you are letting people do what they do best. The biggest challenge for a larger company culture is to instill the trust throughout the organization to drive a collaborative environment between two types of people who think completely differently.
Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
Well, it's 70 degrees and sunny outside, so that may be influencing this answer a little bit, but I would say my absolute favorite thing to do is to sit on my back porch with my wife, throw the stick for our lab Tucker, and watch him romp around while sipping on a nice, dry rosé. Yup, that's the ticket.
For additional Digital Innovator stories, click here.