Over the last 18 months there has been a common theme across all the agency reviews undertaken on behalf of brands that we have supported.
Regardless of the discipline being considered, the expertise required or the exact services to be delivered, CMOs want full funnel, data driven, customer centric marketing.
These may not always be the exact words used (although often they are) but the sentiment is there on every brief and clearly understood.
This merited investigation, and a sensible start point is to break down exactly what is meant by full funnel, data driven, customer centric marketing.
Full funnel is a recognition that customers will be at different points of engagement, unaware of a brand at one end of the spectrum to high value repeat purchasers at the other.
Data driven is borne out of the abundance of direct, indirect, proxy and modelled knowledge about the target audience that can mean, for some, the ultimate goal of mass personalisation.
Customer centric looks to deliver what the customer wants, not just what the company can produce and deliver.
As a slight aside, we should ask ourselves what brands did before customer centric marketing? I think it can be described as company centric marketing, which was never going to be successful long term. Isn’t hindsight wonderfully smug!
This common ask across briefs of all types led to us asking why.
Why does a retail fashion business looking to appoint an agency to deliver brand building comms express their requirements in the same way as computer games manufacturer looking to retain and upsell their customers or a charity looking to align the brand building, fundraising, legacy giving and support of its retail estate? They all want full funnel, data driven customer centric marketing.
- Marketers recognise the historic legacy silos and separations that existed within their organisations were created for a different world and are no longer reflective of how their customers process the messaging to which they are exposed. There is simply no filtration between brand messaging, response messaging or brand-response messaging. (Don’t we love to invent new marketing language to create a little bit of clear water). None of this matters to the customer. It’s all just a brand talking to me in a more, or less, relevant and eloquent way.
- When leaders lead, others follow. If the marketing titans operate in this way, who are other brands - the late majority and laggards - to question this. It’s not as sheep-like as I describe but, in many cases, not far off from the truth.
- To the credit of some agencies, they have been espousing this approach for a long time, with many agencies transforming their offering to deliver more of the messaging across more of the customer journey. And any newly launched agency has this baked into their proposition from the day they open their doors.
There are three significant implications on the CMO and their organisation:
- If FF, DD, CC marketing is to be delivered in a meaningful way there are bigger considerations than had been originally anticipated. Is marketing structured and organised appropriately? Do you have the right blend of external partners with the right skills? Should you consider taking work away from agencies to in-source or in-house? Essentially ,have you set up your marketing eco-system for success? All valid questions but not what the CMO had originally considered…’I just wanted to review my advertising agency’.
- With the collision and overlap between physical retail and online sales, there needs to be greater alignment between marketing and e-commerce. This isn’t always the case as, often, e-commerce will not fall under the jurisdiction of marketing. But what’s the point of striving for FF, DD, CC marketing if the physical and digital elements of the brand are not aligned?
- Setting all of this in place is the first, not insignificant, step in the transformation of how we see successful CMOs operating internally and with their agency partners. But ensuring it’s kept in good working order can be easy to ignore, particularly in the early days of a new internal operational set-up alongside recently appointed agencies that are the marketing department’s new best friends.
Newly created internal structures and external agency partners can be a great set-up for future success but all this needs nurturing and attention, without which the hoped for potential may fall short of expectation.
To put it more succinctly, no-one buys Calgon when they’ve just bought a new washing machine, but waiting until you do need it can be a costly false economy (as I can personally testify!).