23 0CT 2014
5 Core Principles For Driving Business Values
Marketing must provide the glue that binds the different parts of the company together around the brand promise.

Brand positioning is no longer a marketing problem - it’s a company problem.

Principles represent a set of values that defines a person or an organization. Without a strong set of principles, an organization may experience certain setbacks as they are crucial for driving corporate performance. It defines company culture which is a large part of why they are important to stimulating performance. The marketing team have to provide the glue that ties the different areas of the company together around the brand image.

Business models face continuous interruptions along the way and CEOs together with their team are well informed of that matter. One example of it is showrooming, where customers traditionally examine products in a store but purchase it online instead, sometimes at a lower price. Online stores usually offer lower prices because they don’t have the same overhead cost like their brick and mortar counterparts. Based on a 2013 survey with 750 U.S. consumers, 73 percent reported having participating in showrooming six months prior to the survey. Few retailers have tried to respond to the trend with price-matching guarantees. But having discounts is not a long term answer in the age of the internet, with pricing transparency worldwide makes low price an inexcusable strategy.

Here are the five core principles required for modern marketing departments:

1. Serve as the Market’s Voice

Most organizations still have plans to research the customers. If Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks Coffee Company only took the opinion of their customers, they would have been out of the coffee business. A market research was conducted and it was shown why the customers weren’t buying coffee. “The drop in coffee drinking owe to the fact that the coffee most people bought was stale and they didn’t like it.” Schultz said. “Once they tasted ours and experienced what we called the third place - a place to gather between home and work where they were treated with respect - they found we were filling a need they didn’t know they had.”

It is very important in setting strategic direction with the voice of the customer but that alone isn’t enough. Marketers must also grasp the opportunity of the various tools at their disposal for securing the viewpoints of everyone who could influence their business or industry.

Market voices will disclose new trends, bring to light needs for products and services that haven’t been invented yet, and recognize opportunity in neighbouring markets that can be obtained.

It’s not just a defensive tactic by only listening to market voices. You have to match the product with the market demand. Therefore, marketing can be positioned by the Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) by developing a greater understanding of the market. Marketing positioning can be the cultural catalyst that applies market insight to prevent the organization from being grounded in present success and prepare for the next transformation.

2. Customer Experience Synchronization Across All Channels

In 2012, Paradigm Mall’s customers issued a complaint on their Facebook page regarding malfunctioning lifts but the social media representative of Paradigm Mall responded with sarcasm instead, which caused a stir among other customers that the person was not being professional while handling this issue.

The backfire that Paradigm Mall received on social media is the example of the pitfall organizations face in this era of social media. Customers and organizations use them to share information. Organizations will promote their new items while customers offer feedback, be it positive or negative. But when it comes to negative feedback, customers are actually gathering to get organizations to change the experiences they are dissatisfied with.

Furthermore, social media is not the only channel around that adds up to the overall experience of a brand. Each of these channels, from the web site, customer service and call centres are frequently developed and managed independently by subsidiaries from the organization. Most of the business units and functional groups only care about the piece of experience they are directly involved with as they are coordinated and measured inside the organization.

A united marketing communications plan does not weigh anything if customers have disconnected experiences across the entire organization’s business units, be it their retail stores, web site, customer service or even its partners. It may seem impossible to have consistency in services for all their channels without owning or managing them but it can be done.

Marketing doesn’t operate briefing centers but it arranges counsel for the premises managers and sales team that handle the meetings to help them understand the story they want to tell. They supply them with the proper assets to assist them with the story as well.

Fully understanding how your customers relate with your brand is one step away from synchronizing the customer experience. For this to happen, most companies have to broaden the definition of customer lifecycle beyond the conventional sales funnel. Before you create the experience, it is important to describe it first.

Marketing can bring this customer perspective to different channels, and the units that control them, to create better experiences. Small changes can be beneficial. For example, setting up single sign-on (SSO) mechanisms enable customers to easily navigate across a brand’s online units. Instead of selling them products, you can create more engagement and closeness by relating a customer event around solving customers’ problems.

The central paradox of customer experience is when organizations want the customer experience to increase revenue and profits but they want to do right with their customers too. A customer experience program can’t be built without a clear point of the return of that investment. Calculating the cost of not fixating on the customer experience is one method to do it. Many organizations threaten the relationship with their customers by making decisions that don’t take these types of costs into account The cost of not acting to the customer experience can be critical.

3. Be the Steward to the Brand

Compliance is less important when it comes to brand management, where strict protocol is created by marketing on how the brand should be represented in all components across all channels, and most about freely defined governance. It’s like moving to a brand stimulant from a brand police. No longer having the authority to control the brand, marketers have a chance to create and intensify a consistent message using the same devices and channels as consumers to make the positive experiences eclipse the negative ones.

Let the brand have a human feel to it as it is the best way to influence how people talk about your brand. Marketers have been using this method to sell soft drinks, luxury cars or coffee but it is rather challenging to humanize a brand that sells customer relationship management (CRM) software, floor tiles or vehicle parts. Always remember that people, not businesses make purchase decisions which is why brands from any industry can make an emotional connection with their target market to promote awareness and advancement.

Social media plays an important role in a marketer’s ability, if managed well - to humanize the brand or to dehumanize it if managed poorly. A study done in 2012 by Conversocial discovered that 55% of consumers were disappointed by the social media communication done by brands. Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers (88%) whose complaints were being ignored on Facebook and Twitter by the brand were unlikely to be repeat customers.

Moving ahead of just monitoring social media, brands are allocating more resources to engage and respond to people who talk about their brand or ask direct questions on social media platforms.

Resolving problems is not the only purpose these channels serve. Both B2B (business-to-business) and consumer marketers find that they can continuously engage in clamorous conversations with their customers and prospects if they avoid looking at press releases as content. Original, authentic and stimulating content can help brands build credibility on the topics that are crucial to their customers and mainly, for their business.

Marketing is increasingly taking the lead on creating content for thought leadership, what Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) calls the “ambassador of ideas.” Content marketing investments are growing among B2B and consumer marketers alike. According to the Content Marketing Institute, consumer marketers already spent 28% of their marketing budget on content marketing in 2012 and 55% plan to increase the spending the following year. B2B marketers’ statistics are similar; one third of their budget are spent on content marketing, and 54% plan to increase their spending in the coming year.

Creating great content is a small involvement in effective content marketing. Frequency, distribution and interaction plays an important role in captivating and engaging with a target audience.

4. Insights Capitalization

Everyone have heard that marketing has to be more data driven. Up until now, too many marketers are focused on ego-metrics; Facebook fans, Twitter followers, website page views and similar metrics, which may look nice on a dashboard but don’t create value by themselves for the business. Marketers need to measure results instead of tracking activities with these types of ego-metrics.

To determine the best ways to use data in support of the bank’s customers, a customer intelligence team from BBVA Compass within marketing works with colleagues from the same line-of-business. A senior vice president, William Koleszar who supervises marketing for BBVA Compass’ wealth management and commercial banking lines says, “we’re looking for actionable insights that help us run the business.” “Businesses have come to us more eagerly to suggest new ways they can use the data.”

New ideas for services for those customers has led to analyzing behaviors of wealth management clients for example. The bank could identify prospective wealth clients from among its retail banking customers by incorporating internal and external data.

5. Be the Company’s Integrator and Force Multiplier

Most organizations are built around any number of warehouses, by geography, function or product. The reality is that a small fraction of groups think about the overall success of the company outside of the C-suite.

An exception should be marketing. Marketing can become more of an internal strategic partner by connecting different parts of an organization to deliver a dependable, cross-channel experience by merging marketing messages and insights across business units, functional groups and geographies. To influence business strategy, CMOs have advanced in leveraging customer insights. LinkedIn has followed this course; marketing and product development teams are highly merged and share customer experience insights to decide what to build, how to direct it and how to communicate the brand value.

The key to raising marketing’s strategic profile based on the ability to divine customer insights and make them suitable to business users. The perception of marketing’s contribution to value can be changed by a few early shared wins throughout the organization.

In conclusion, being adept to these five core principles will help CMOs exercise their influence as agents of change, stimulate future business models and strategic direction. These principles add up to something very strong together: the ability for marketing to both visualize and proclaim the future.

Source taken from Becher, J “Marketing’s New Mandate: 5 Core Principles for Driving Business Value,” Inquiry, 2013.

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