RENEGADE THINKING from the CEO of Renegade, the social media & marketing agency that helps clients make more out of less by transforming communications into "Marketing as Service."

Q+A on The Magic of Marketing w/ Macy’s Martine Reardon

12/18/14

Martine Reardon_MacysWant to truly understand the complexity of being a modern CMO then skip my introduction to Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and dive into her thoughts on everything from leadership to brand building, mix modeling to customer experience, mobile payments to Snapchat, charitable activities to testing a new social shopping platform called Wanelo.  The range of marketing activity alone is staggering yet thanks to a few overarching principles it’s fairly easy to see how Martine and her sizable team pull it all together and bring “The Magic of Macy’s” to life.

Drew: Congratulations on winning the The CMO Club‘s Leadership award. What are some of the lessons (about leading) you can share with aspiring leaders especially of the marketing variety? 

I think good leadership is a fine balance of setting a strategic vision and then creating an environment for innovation and collaboration to ensure you get the best thinking and execution from your team. We move very fast in retail, and the level and volume of work can be intense. It’s very easy to get caught in the day-to-day management, but we work hard to stay ahead and to also be flexible enough to be present and reactive in the moment. We can easily be working on 4 seasons at one time, so I have definitely learned to build consensus and alignment around the core strategies and initiatives, and then I trust our incredibly talented team to bring the Magic of Macy’s to life for our customers across America.

We also embrace a saying from Macy’s very own Margaret Getchell (the first woman executive in retail), who said “Be everywhere, do everything, and never forget to astonish the customer.” It’s a motto we live by here, and I think having a legacy of such pioneering executives is an inspiration to all of us. It has fostered an ambition and entrepreneurialism that is a part of our culture.

Drew: Macy’s owns some really big event properties including July 4th fireworks and your Thanksgiving Day parade that you have been doing for a long, long time. Can you speak to how these programs have evolved from a marketing perspective and what kinds of things you’ve done to keep them fresh?

The great thing about our events is that they reflect the very best of American popular culture. This allows us to keep evolving with audiences over time. Whether it’s a favorite celebrity from Tony Bennett to Usher or a beloved childhood character such as Snoopy or SpongeBob SquarePants, being attuned to the changing entertainment landscape allows our events to stay fresh and relevant. Additionally, as innovations in technology or other cultural shifts occur, we look to incorporate those into our events. For example, this year’s Macy’s Fireworks featured the incorporation of never-before-seen effects along the entire span of the Brooklyn Bridge, over the last decade we’ve introduced a Macy’s Parade mobile app, we’ve participated in a live rick-roll at the Parade, and we’ve added a new layer of art to the sky with the introduction of our artists balloons which have featured works by Jeff Koons, Tim Burton and Takashi Murakami, among others. Given the wide ranging audience of our events from toddlers to great grandparents, the shifts don’t have to be major, in order to entertain the entire spectrum of our audiences.

Drew: These kinds of big events ensure that Macy’s has high top-of-mind awareness and favorable brand associations but must be tough to translate into store traffic and sales. (If I’m wrong about this, please correct me.)  If I’m right, how do you evaluate the success of these programs—do you track brand health metrics (like awareness, favorability, etc)?   

Our iconic events are part of the DNA of the Macy’s brand. We are not only a retailer that offers customers incredible fashion and value, we are also an entertainment brand that creates magical experiences. For generations, Macy’s has been at the center of the traditions of millions of families across the nation and the world. This clear and visceral connection our brand enjoys with the general public is unmeasurable. We take great pride in producing world-famous events that are so widely beloved. It’s a truly unique place to hold in the lives of our customers, that through the lenses of our events, we have become a part of their family.

Drew: When many people think of Macy’s, they think tradition, but how important do you feel it is to take advantage of new trends and be among the earliest adopters of new technologies such as Apple Pay and Shopkick? Why? 

Our top priority at Macy’s is to serve the customer. With the customer at the center of every decision we make, it’s essential for us to quickly and effectively address their needs. This is why you’ve seen Macy’s at the forefront of testing new technologies and in some cases being early adopters of innovations that enhance our customer’s shopping experiences. Whether it’s more relevant, targeted marketing that cuts through the clutter and speaks to the needs and wants of that customer or a technology that speeds up the check-out process, we will look to test and adopt strategies and innovations that provide customer value and support.

Drew: What new things (if any) did you try in 2014 and how did it work out?

I’m very proud to say that Macy’s is excellent at newness! We think of each month, each season, each year as a brand new opportunity to re-inspire our customer. We see ourselves as an entertainment brand, and we know that today’s “experience economy” expects more from us than just great fashion and product. We’ve tried many new things this year – starting with a new spring campaign we called “Secret Garden” that took a floral fashion trend to new heights with store events, digital activations and a cause program to aid local parks and gardens. We also launched a new effort with Clinton Kelly in support of our bridal and registry customer; we hosted a very fun LipDub competition for schools during back-to-school season; and we partnered with Fashion Rocks for the return of the famous fashion and music event hosted in NYC and broadcast live on CBS.

Of course, we’re always testing newness in our omnichannel strategy and with technology – including our recent launch with ApplePay, rolling out shopkick nationally, launching Macy’s Wallet, enhancing our shopping apps, offering Macy’s Image Search, expanding buy online pickup in store, and testing same-day delivery.

Drew:  In what ways do you believe Macy’s admirable commitment to charitable causes, such as increasing research, awareness and education for diseases such as breast cancer and heart disease, has benefited the Macy’s brand?

Our My Macy’s approach to being a part of the communities where we live and work, and our passion for supporting causes that are important to our customers, have been cornerstones of our brand for more than 150 years. We believe deeply in our responsibility to make a difference, and we work with incredible non-profit partners like the American Heart Association, March of Dimes, Make-A-Wish, Reading Is Fundamental, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Got Your 6, Futures Without Violence, United Way, and many others. Last year, through our contributions and the generous support of our associates and customers, Macy’s gave more than $70 million to charitable organizations.

Our cause marketing programs are some of our customers most beloved events. They come out to shop and to support a great cause, and they tell us over and over again that they want and appreciate these opportunities to give in a way that is both meaningful for the charity and fun for them. It’s a simple principle, but the impact of what we can do together is so much greater. I believe that Macy’s was really a pioneer in this area – and we continue to trail-blaze fresh, new ways to engage and give back with our customers.

Drew: What have your experiences been with mobile marketing been to date? What’s working for you? What’s not?

We’ve made sure that our mobile media strategy is grounded in a deep understanding of how our customers are engaging with their smartphone and tablet devices. Our customers at Macy’s tend to be quite mobile-centric. To that end, we’ve invested in tactics such as mobile and tablet digital display, SMS, and mobile paid search. We’ve also evaluated mobile usage penetration in cross-device channels like digital audio and social media, and use those insights to drive a mobile-first approach to those channels. In addition, we’ve recently relaunched our Macy’s mobile app with significant improvements to the user experience and have launched a brand-new Macy’s Image Search app that leverages visual recognition technology to populate search results. We’re also continuing to explore the in-store beacons space.  Looking ahead, we see a lot of white space in mobile analytics and attribution, and look forward to developments that will help us better understand the impact of mobile media investment to total omnichannel sales.

We also run mobile and tablet-based digital retargeting campaigns and are testing into cross-screen retargeting in Spring 2015. This is a powerful tactic that capitalizes on connecting with customers who’ve expressed intent to purchase with us. As well, we’re launching a social shopping test in Q4 with Instagram, which will really help us better understand how to unlock the opportunity to drive sales through social media and potentially drive higher conversion directly on a mobile device.

Drew: What’s working for you these days in social media? Feel free to define what success looks like for Macy’s in SM.  Did you try anything new this year that you can share?   

We focus on a balanced approach between great publishing, meaningful engagement, and effective paid media. What’s important is clearly defining what success metrics to apply, based on the social media tactic being evaluated. Targeted direct response campaigns serve quite a different purpose than top-funnel branded publishing, but when planned and executed holistically, provide real value for our brand. We’re always testing, learning, and iterating in the social media space. We’re intrigued by the explosive growth of video on Facebook since the rollout of auto-play, and have run some campaigns over the last year using Facebook’s video ad product. We continue to explore how best to leverage Twitter’s natural affinity with TV, as a second-screen companion to broadcast and branded integrations. We’re working hard to grow our footprint on YouTube through targeted pre-roll, original content, and content collaborations with creators. We recently ran a very fun UGC- based campaign on YouTube as part of our Back To School efforts.

We’ve also recently begun publishing on Wanelo, with the objective of connecting with their fast-growing and incredibly valuable audience base: older millennials who are looking to convert on new product based on aspirational imagery. And we continue to focus on our Pinterest publishing and paid media strategy. We think there is enormous runway for us to utilize Pinterest not only as a means of showcasing great social publishing, but also as a visual search engine that allows us to facilitate product discovery and drive traffic to our ecommerce site. Pinterest is also a key means of connecting us with one of our most important customer groups: brides. We are among the top registry destinations in the country, so it’s critical that we maintain and grow our relevancy as a destination for millennial brides who are planning their big day.

Also as part of our millennial strategy, we recently launched our brand’s Snapchat account, Macyssnaps, and will keep a close eye on that platform as it rolls out its paid advertising suite.

Q+A on Chico’s Marketing with CMO Miki Racine Berardelli

12/5/14

© Noa Griffel 2011Four brands, united in a global mission to bring fashion to those in need. It’s no superhero tale, it’s just another day in the life for Miki Racine Berardelli, CMO of clothing company Chico’s. Miki isn’t the kind to shy away from a challenge; in fact, she picked this job so she could juggle all the different responsibilities of a global multi-brand organization. If that doesn’t sound like someone who deserves a Rising Star award from The CMO Awards and The CMO Club, I don’t know who does.

As we spoke, I found out that this drive to balance different roles goes way beyond a little brand dancing. Miki is not just interested in enhancing the customer experience on her existing channels, but she also gives critical advice for aggressively expanding your social media and developing mobile sites and applications. Supervillains beware.

Drew: Chico’s recently teamed up with Borderfree in an effort to expand its ecommerce globally. What are the goals of the partnership, and what advice would you give to other CMOs looking to expand their ecommerce into new, international markets?

We are excited to tap Borderfree as a strategic partner to help Chico’s FAS serve international shoppers with ease and consistency. From logistics to fraud management to market insights, we look forward to leveraging the Borderfree platform to the fullest extent to grow our international presence while maintaining the core values of our brand.

Thinking globally requires a different mindset than being purely domestic. It’s important to support international efforts with the right amount of marketing support, whether it’s SEM or otherwise, to acquire customers from other countries who may or may not know your brand and product offering.

Drew: What have been the biggest challenges you have faced since taking your current position as CMO of Chico’s? How did your experience as CMO of Tory Burch prepare you to take on these challenges? 

I have only been on the job for a couple of months so I haven’t necessarily faced any challenges, but this role requires Digital Commerce and Marketing oversight of four very distinct brands across multiple channels, product categories, touch-points and countries. Our brands include Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma Intimates and Boston Proper. The experience of working in a multi-brand organization will challenge me, one of the main reasons I decided to join Chico’s FAS.

I will be forever grateful for the rewarding experience I had at Tory Burch during a chapter of such exciting growth in the brand and change across the landscape. Everything I learned there prepared me for my new role.

Drew: A lot of marketers are talking about employee advocacy – is this a priority for you and if so how are you going about it?  If not, perhaps you could talk about how you as a marketer have had an impact on the whole customer experience

Whether employee advocacy makes sense for a brand or business really depends on the company and culture within. While we don’t currently have a formal program in place, Chico’s FAS is comprised of four strong brands on an amazing campus with inspired and dedicated employees. I believe we have opportunity for our employees to share that, digitally and traditionally.

Drew: What role does social media play in your marketing mix? Are there any platforms that are working better for your brand than others?

I have always been a strong believer in social media. We have a strong portfolio with presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and Youtube. We also have strong blogger relationships that are important to the mix. We use each platform differently and are exploring new ones as well as new ways to create and share content to tell our stories.

Drew: How are you being “creative” in your current role and how has that helped you?

I have always tried to balance the “art” with the “science.” I believe brands are most successful when they strike right down the middle. I’m excited about the creative opportunities here, creating a seamless experience for our customer, and continually enhancing our digital presence and marketing touch-points.

Drew: Looking ahead to 2015, what’s on your priority list? 

Learning! If I had to state the top three areas of focus based on my “fresh eyes,” the would be: customer experience across all channels, mobile sites and applications, and helping to set us up for the future while we continue to build four successful global brands.

Q+A on J. Crew with CMO Award Winner Shannon Smith

11/25/14

No one said being a CMO is easy.  In Jeff Goodby’s recent post on Forbes.com he encourages CMOs to be bold and move fast given a likely tenure of 45 months describing their position as follows:

  • You’ve got some big fish to fry. The CMO’s job responsibilities have expanded like a dumped-out bowl of TUMS. You are now responsible not just for advertising and research but also for all internal and external corporate communications, all social media, all PR, the company’s Internet presence, countering snipey comments about the company’s Internet presence, any and all stupid photos that go public, leaked documents and ill-advised blog posts by employees. You are doing more than anyone in the company, actually.

It is with all these responsibilities in mind that I reached out to Shannon Smith, former SVP and Global CMO at JCrew, and as you will see, we covered a lot of ground from repositioning to customer experience, email systems to customer loyalty programs. Shannon’s hand in the success of JCrew’s repositioning probably would have been enough for her to win a Rising Star award at this year’s CMO Awards but it’s only the tip of the iceberg as you will see soon enough.

Shannon Smith_JCrew Drew: The J. Crew brand seems to have evolved in last few years.  Can you talk about how this evolution?
J. Crew has evolved their brand position quite a bit over the past 5 or so years, from a more traditional, basics-driven retailer (think roll-neck sweaters, barn jackets, khakis and button-downs) to a much more fashion-forward brand with runway shows during NY Fashion Week.  This has largely been driven by the design and merchant teams, with the evolution of the merchandise itself, and supported by the creative positioning of the marketing, including the site, catalog and email.   It is not easy to change a brand’s position in the eyes of the consumer, but J. Crew is fortunate in that most customers love the new styles.  One thing that has been incredibly successful in shifting the brand’s image is creative collaborations with high-end designers, from Comme des Garcon to Alden Shoes.  The direct marketing team’s role is to get the most relevant product in front of the customer, and communicate that the brand offers tremendous product breadth with a wide range of styles and price points.

Drew: What changes has J. Crew made over the last year in order to improve the customer experience?   
J. Crew is constantly working to improve the customer experience, from the design and fit of the clothes to the services offered in stores to the website functionality.  My role in this endeavor was constantly striving to deliver more relevant, personalized marketing communications to our customers, providing them with information about the products that would be of interest to them, whether it was our women’s new arrivals, a new men’s suiting line with a different fit, or great children’s clothes.  I worked towards this in our email marketing program, our catalog versioning and our rewards program, the J. Crew credit card.

Drew: I saw this quote on AdExchanger: “J. Crew is incorporating email engagement behavior into segmentation and targeting. ‘We’re setting up a much more triggered and robust marketing platform,’ says Smith.” Can you talk about this new initiative?
In 2013, I led J. Crew through the transition onto the Responsys email platform (Responsys was subsequently acquired by Oracle and integrated into their Marketing Cloud).  They are a best-in-class service platform, enabling J. Crew with a much more robust set of capabilities around customer segmentation and targeted marketing campaigns.  Our email segmentation strategy is now capturing not only customer purchase history, but also website browse and email engagement behavior (opens, clicks, etc.).  In addition, we have launched a series of email triggers, including Abandoned Cart and “Category Browse” campaigns, that are driving millions of incremental dollars in email revenue.

DrewSo would you describe this as your single most important new digital tool?
For my world, it was absolutely our transition to the Responsys email marketing platform.  The capabilities they provide in bringing vast amounts of customer online behavior into our segmentation has allowed us to significantly improve the productivity of our email campaigns through better segmentation of our customer base.  We are able to incorporate products customers are interested in – indicated by browsing and email engagement – in addition to past purchases, which is incredibly powerful.

Drew: Can you talk a bit about your experience with loyalty programs and what it takes to get them off the ground?
J. Crew doesn’t have a loyalty program (our J. Crew credit card is our rewards program) but at Sephora I managed the Beauty Insider program for 4 years, growing it from launch to an active customer base of over 10 million members.  In terms of getting it “off the ground”, it was an enormous company initiative involving everyone in the marketing, operations, store and technical organizations.  It had a tremendously successful launch and grew quickly, but loyalty programs require significant effort and funding to keep them fresh, top-of-mind, engaging and meaningful.  At Sephora, I led the launch of the VIP premium tier and new types of program benefits, including new point-level rewards.  The Beauty Insider program has been invaluable in that it enabled the company to build a customer database and personalize marketing communications to their enormous base of retail customers.  However, I was constantly working with our analytics team to measure the ROI of the program holistically.  It’s not an easy thing to do.  I believe loyalty programs can have real value for companies, particularly when many retailers selling are the same products and competing for customers, like department stores.  That said, I always caution a company considering a loyalty program to be very thoughtful and clear on the strategy for their program, how it aligns with their brand and how they will drive value from it, because it’s going to be a big investment.

Drew: What advice would you give to fellow marketers when it comes to building credibility with your CEO? Are there some things to be avoided?
You need to know what’s important to the CEO, and to present marketing results and accomplishments in a way that will resonate with his/her values.  If the CEO is an analytical, metrics-driven leader, the marketer would be best-served providing a numbers-driven communication about metrics and performance.  If the CEO is more creative and emotional, the marketing leader should speak to results in terms of positive impact on the customer, building connection to the brand, etc., and how this supports the company’s growth.  What I’d say is to be avoided is trying to communicate things in a way that is important to the marketing leader – but isn’t important to the CEO.

Smartphone Killed the DSLR (But don’t tell that to Matt Sweetwood)

11/23/14

When thinking about the fate of the camera business to frame my conversation with Matt Sweetwood, President of Unique Photo, my mind jumped to the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” thinking it should be rewritten to say “Smartphone Killed The DSLR.” This led to a YouTube search which landed me on the very cool video below.

What I like about the video is that it takes a classic yet passé song and turns it into something fresh yet familiar.  In many ways, this is exactly what Matt has done to help Unique Photo not just survive an industry apocalypse (what else do you call annual declines of 40%?) but actually thrive. The familiar part here is the emphasis Unique Photo puts on customers service and customer education.  The fresh part is how Matt has become a major presence on social media and built a peer network that helps support and amplify his efforts.  The combination of these efforts means Unique Photo is standing tall despite the category head winds and Matt earned a President’s Circle Award from The CMO Club.

Drew: How did you decide to create Unique Photo’s in-store education program, Unique University, and how has it helped the brand achieve its marketing goals?
The camera store business was facing the most challenging period in its history. By 2007, approximately 80% of them had gone out of business as a result of the Internet and the movement away from the film-based model (buy film, return for processing, return to pick up prints, repeat). As the last camera stores in NJ went under and the business moved online, to big box or NYC, I started to look at the business model carefully. It came to me that building an experience based marketing concept in a store could work. It was a natural thought process from there that lead me to build an education program. Digital cameras were computers and more complicated than mechanical film cameras, more people were buying them and education would establish us as an authority and provide a repeatable “experience” for our customers.

Drew: You have been working at Unique Photo since college. How has your progressive movement within the company shaped your marketing outlook?
I was born to be a marketer. Despite my education as a theoretical mathematician I have always been naturally good at and drawn to marketing. When we opened our business to consumers by opening our store in 2008 (previously we were 90% B to B), I was able to employ some “pent-up” ideas and techniques that were not possible in a more simple distribution-type business. As a tech-head, I have been able to use those skills combined with natural progression one goes through in promoting a retail store and as a result my roll has transformed from being the COO of my company to becoming the CMO. Operations are more fundamental to the success of a B-to-B business where marketing is the lifeblood of a technological retail business.

Matt Sweetwood_Unique Photo

Drew: How are you staying on top of all the new digital marketing techniques and opportunities?
Practice what you preach. I network frequently, I am very open to being solicited from digital marketing vendors (you learn when they present even if you don’t buy), I belong to The CMO Club and I have paralleled the company brand with my personal brand as I engage in digital techniques to build my own brand (which I consider somewhat successful). Basically I am always out there looking and learning.  To stay on top you have to view knowledge like food. You need at least 3 servings everyday.

Drew: What tool has been the single greatest improvement to digital marketing for your brand over the last year? 
For my personal brand, it has been Facebook. I know that is not such a desirable answer but I have leveraged my Facebook page to establish me as the most recognized figure in the photography business. That brings enormous benefits to me from vendors, consultants, customers and media who regularly follow me.

For Unique Photo, the most significant tool we use is our email contact manager and it’s integration with our legacy systems. We have built a significant amount of our business and maintain customer contact through a consistent and highly effective local and national email campaign. We use iContact, Movable Inc., and several of our own systems to manage this.

Drew: What role does social media play in your marketing efforts?
It is a fundamental component of my personal and company brand. For 2014 Unique Photo has reduced traditional advertising by 75% and increased our social media spend by three times. That trend will continue in 2015.

Drew: What changes have you and your company made over the last year in order to improve your customers’ experience? 
At Unique Photo I manage customer service in the role of CMO and President. One of the success stories of our company has been our photo industry best customer service. I believe that how you treat and view customers starts from the top. I personally answer customers who contact us on social media and monitor our customer service queues frequently. It sets the standard for your staff when they see the person at the top of the marketing department interact with customers. In marketing you need to know what the customers are thinking and saying. In the past year we have added live online chat and dedicated personnel to monitor social media for customer interaction. We also engage in dedicated marketing campaigns on social media to engage the customer. Not only can this drive brand awareness and sales but many times is fosters customer interaction in a way they feel comfortable telling you what’s on their mind.  When you are close to your customers they give you great marketing ideas.

Drew: Loyalty programs can be tough to get off the ground.  If you have one in place, can you describe the program and talking about the costs/benefits of the program?
I opened our store in 2008. It was on the to-do list from day one. Customers were asking about it and in fact we had so many “loyal” customers we knew we had to do it. The competition beat us to it and that of course accelerated our development. We actually modified our gift card system to speed up the process.  Customers earn points on purchases and after a certain time period those points convert to money on their loyalty/gift cards. Phase one was store only and shortly thereafter we implemented online too. In store shoppers get a physical card and online customers automatically get into our loyalty program by simply clicking a box on account setup. We can combine online to a physical store card if they come in the store.
https://www.uniquephoto.com/rewards/

Drew: How important is having a strong peer network to your ability to do your job well? (explain benefits)
I enjoy this question very much. I use the ultimate peer network, The CMO Club, as an example. There has been numerous times when someone has simply said something at a CMO Club meeting that has spurred a new program or idea. As a business owner it is so very easy to “stay at home” and not get to see what others are doing or thinking.

For me personally, as the only marketer in my business, having a strong peer network reminds me there are others out there who think like me and that gives me the extra confidence to implement new ideas. When you are not around marketing peers your confidence tends to drop, as others seem clueless and negative about the new ideas you have.

Drew:  What’s on your marketing wish list for 2015?
A better way to deliver, measure and improve the effectiveness of our emails. Continued and rapid growths of our social media reach. A continued decrease in my spend on traditional advertising combined with an increased effectiveness of our social media leading to more sales. Most importantly, more peace, love and money; not necessarily in that order.

Q+A on Innovation with Mayur Gupta of Kimberly-Clark

11/21/14

Mayur Gupta_Kimberly ClarkThe job of the detective is to not simply to take the facts as they appear but instead to dig for hidden clues and ultimately reassemble these into a cohesive fact-based narrative of what actually happened.  With this in mind, I would propose that Mayur Gupta, the Global Head of Marketing Technology and Innovation at consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark, is the Sherlock Holmes of digital marketing.  Though our one conversation transcribed below hardly qualifies me for the role of Watson, I will say that if you read our Q+A, you too may finally have a clue what programmatic marketing is all about.

You will also come to understand what big data can actually do for big brands, especially if (and this is a big IF) you can shift the internal conversation from channel-centricity to customer-centricity.  As Mayur sees it, opportunities abound for the marketers who “break the channel silos and drive seamless or so called “omni channel” consumer experiences.”  Read on.  It won’t take any detective work on your part to see why he received the Programmatic Marketing award at The CMO Club’s CMO Awards.

Drew: This is a great quote from you: “We don’t believe in digital marketing; we believe in marketing in a digital world.” Can you explain what you mean and how it impacts your planning process?

Actually, that was me quoting our CMO, Clive Sirkin, who has gone on record to say “we don’t believe in digital marketing but brand building or marketing in a digital world.” As an organization we have adopted that mantra as a founding principle behind all our marketing strategies. It’s quite simple if you think about it – we are engaging a consumer who is living in a massively digital world, she is dependent on digital technology, which is now part of her daily life. She no longer differentiates between the analog and the digital world in her expectations from brands and how they engage, she expects the same value and experience seamlessly across the board. However, on the flip side, brands continue to consider digital as a “thing” or a “silo” which breaks and fragments that experience. We at Kimberly Clark believe in breaking these silos by driving convergence that eventually builds legendary brands in this digital world. It’s a shift from being multi-channel (channel focused) to truly becoming “omni-channel” (consumer focused).

Drew: Also, the same article mentioned you had eight principles for innovation in the corporate ecosystem—can you talk about the top 3 principles your fellow marketer’s should concentrate on first and why?
Sure, will share 3 of them, not necessarily the “top” 3 but I think these are most fundamental in context to driving innovation:

*   #BeConsumerObsessed — For the most part, marketers and, in fact, the entire industry is “channel obsessed”, from strategies to operations we think about channels and touch points first and consumer second. The way plans are laid out, technology landscapes are orchestrated – it’s all channel driven. For marketing and innovation to be successful, it needs to be consumer driven and consumer obsessed, solving consumer needs and desires and when you do that, you organically break the channel silos and drive seamless or so called “omni channel” consumer experiences. Technology and innovation can very easily overshadow this simple fact.

*   #DontKillTheButterfly — I don’t think any explanation can do more justice than this video itself:

Innovation is about letting the ideas fly which can be challenging in a corporate world that is increasingly driven by ROI from day one

*   #ConnectTheDots — Finally and most importantly, I strongly believe that creativity and innovation is all about connecting the dots. Most times, it’s all out there; all it needs is wiring.

Drew: What innovations are you proudest of leading in 2014?
We are still in early stages of driving disruptive innovation in a digital world – we introduced our Digital Innovation Lab (D’LAB) at CES in Vegas in 2014. We have a number of pilots that are currently in flight, some of them are in market right now and some ready to launch in early 2015. But personally I am most proud of innovating how we drive and orchestrate the complex data and technology ecosystem across marketing. We have established a global marketing technology organization within marketing reporting into our CMO while working very closely with our CIO and her organization. We have innovated our organizational model that has allowed us to drive innovation across the board with data and technology, launching capabilities like programmatic, data management platforms and other content and eCommerce capabilities with speed, agility and nimbleness across the globe.

Drew: Can you talk to one area of innovation you’d really like to crack in 2015?
Don’t know if I can share the actual ideas on this forum but a big area of focus for us in 2015 is driving data convergence, an ability to stitch the fragmented data ecosystem across 1st party, 2nd party and 3rd party data. In order for us to drive relevant, personalized and frictionless consumer experiences across channels and touch points, we need this universal data set just in time and the ability to make decisions and predictions relevant to our consumer as she hops from one touch point to the other. This is more critical for us than “big data”, in fact we put big test and big learning far ahead of big data which for us is a good “buzzword”.

Drew: How has programmatic marketing helped you reach your overall marketing objectives?
It has helped us become smarter as well as more relevant and personalized from a media buying and consumer engagement standpoint across paid channels. Having utilized and scaled the obvious benefits of programmatic, we are now in the next horizon where we are starting to leverage the impact of programmatic across rest of the ecosystem including our owned and earned channels as well as weight our retailer partnerships. The early horizons of programmatic have helped us optimize our media buying efforts and maximized the ROI but the subsequent horizons will include leveraging consumer data and insights in driving stronger consumer engagement and inspiring behavior across the board which arguably is the most under utilized and ignored benefit of programmatic buying.

Drew: What were some of the challenges of adopting programmatic and what advice would you give to another marketer who is just getting started?
Programmatic has been at Kimberly Clark for a few years now even before I had joined, so the credit goes to our media leadership and Clive Sirkin, our CMO. We were clearly one of the early adopters and pioneers in the space. The challenge for us now is to go beyond the obvious and scale the capability globally. We have already seen tremendous success with our current trading desk and programmatic buying capability, we are now challenging ourself to take it to another level and impact the broader marketing ecosystem, smartly leveraging consumer data and insights that will drive seamless experiences and inspire consumer behavior across paid, owned and earned.

Drew: Have you leveraged any new technologies or platforms in the last 12 months and if so what were the results relative to your expectations?
We have spent the last 12-18 months to establish a marketing technology ecosystem at Kimberly Clark that includes technologies in three broad buckets – 1. enterprise capabilities that need to be globally scaled, 2. tactical and localized capabilities that need agility and speed and pertain to local market and consumer needs, 3. lastly technologies and start ups that we need to partner with to drive innovation. Underneath these buckets, there have been a number of new capabilities that have successfully been launched this year but more importantly we have focused on wiring these technologies, ensuring it’s a connected ecosystem and not isolated technologies.

Drew: Storytelling is a big buzzword right now.  Is your brand a good storyteller and if so, can you provide an example of how you are telling that story?
Sure it is and don’t we love these buzzwords, I think storytelling is the “big data” of 2014. On a serious note though, we believe in the power of having a brand story but not necessarily in “storytelling” because that still represents the old mindset that lacks participation and engagement. We believe in “story building” where as brands we share stories that are connected to our brand promise; these stories inspire consumer behavior and participation where eventually our consumers end up creating their own stories on a canvas and foundation that we provide. That is the ultimate state for us that we call “story building.”

Q+A on Keeping an Eye on the Pie w/ Papa John’s Bob Kraut

11/17/14

Bob Kraut_Papa JohnsA conversation with Bob Kraut, CMO of Papa John’s, is a wonderful reminder that despite all the new communication channels and the potentially transformative power of big data, successful marketing can still be boiled down to a few simple truths: product quality matters, customer satisfaction is bellwether metric, employees are a critical part of the brand experience, get your message right and then, perhaps hardest of all, stick with it.

In our interview below, Bob expounds on all of these points in a way that is refreshingly matter of fact, sharing his insights while making them seem common sensical.  Of course, to borrow upon the wit and wisdom of Harry Truman, “If common sense were so common, more [marketers] would have it.”  The truth is that talking about these things is relatively easy, the hard part is implementing them and on that front, Papa John’s certainly has its “eye on the pie,” so its little wonder that Bob is a recent  of  The CMO Club‘s CMO Award for Customer Experience.

Drew: Customer experience does not always come under the control of the CMO yet can have a dramatic impact on the brand and ultimately the believability of your marketing initiatives. How have you been able to impact the customer experience in your current role?

For us, the consumer is at the center of all we do. We always “keep our eye on the pie”, so that the ultimate customer experience is bringing people together to eat great pizza at a great price with an exceptional ordering and service experience. As for marketing’s role in the customer experience, we do the heaving lifting in creating emotional connections with our customers in our branding, online experience and social media and engagement. The pizza business is dominated by heavy price promotion which I don’t think contributes to a sustainable customer proposition. At Papa John’s, we have incredibly loyal customers and they love the brand experience– the American Customer Satisfaction Index has ranked us the #1 pizza brand in satisfaction 13 of the past 15 years.

Drew: A lot of marketers are talking about employee advocacy – is this a priority for you and if so how are you going about it? If not, perhaps you could talk about how you as a marketer have had an impact on the whole customer experience.
When I came to Papa John’s a little over a year ago, my biggest surprise was how happy the people are and how aligned people are against our vision and positioning. Simply put, when you are in the service and delivery business, “happy employees equal happy customers”. So I think we count all of them to be great customer ambassadors. One of the ways that our employees feel like an owner of the business, is through our “open innovation” culture. We solicit and source product ideas and ways to make things better for our customers and I think it shows up in customer ratings and in our business results.

Drew: “Better ingredients. Better pizza.” has been your tagline for a while now. A lot of marketers of change campaigns too quickly in my humble opinion. What has allowed you to stick with this one for so long and what would inspire you to move away from it?
Papa John’s has done what is equivalent to the textbook case on how to build a brand based on quality and consistency. Quality is the core value of the company–I think its in our DNA and has given the company the strength to resist changes over the ups and downs of the business cycle.  And I think its a testament to the leadership of our Founder, John Schnatter–great leaders have discipline. “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza” continues to work well for us–I am type of leader that doesn’t try to fix things that aren’t broken–but I think we are making progress in enriching our brand promise and injecting a more contemporary currency to the brand.

Drew: How have you used social media to advance your brand’s overall marketing efforts? Are there any networks/platforms that are working better for your brand than others?
We use social media to talk to our brand believers and to reach broader audiences in ways that are authentic, real-time and meaningful to them. Pizza is the perfect platform for social media–at its core, pizza bring people together  as social platforms virtually. In 2014, we greatly expanded our social reach beyond Facebook and Twitter–we are now active on Instagram, Google Plus, Vine, the publisher platforms etc–and we have taken our highly visible NFL sponsorship into social media, especially on local level–where we sponsor 21 NFL teams.

Drew: What have your experiences been with mobile marketing been to date? 
We run an e-commerce with nearly 50% of sales coming from online–so we have a greater share of customers accessing our brand online than any other pizza brand-that kind of us makes the #1 digital brand.  An increasing share of our sales is coming from mobile so we have increased our investment in all-things mobile –advertising, apps, alternative payment and localization. And we are seeing all these initiatives work well for Papa John’s.

Drew: Loyalty programs can be tough to get off the ground. Can you talk a bit about Papa Rewards and how it is working for you? What advice would you give to a fellow marketer if they were contemplating a loyalty program?
We introduced our Papa Rewards Loyalty Program in 2010. The pizza market is so price sensitive and this creates a relationship and another point of connectivity to our most loyal consumers and gives us opportunities for segmentation and more precise marketing. Our customers love the program–Papa Rewards was recently named as the #1 loyalty in the restaurant category by Bond Loyalty. With that said, loyalty programs alone won’t work if the pizza isn’t good. We know our customers come back for our better ingredients and attention to quality – and it is important to us to reward them for their loyalty.

Drew: Finally and perhaps a bit early, what’s on top of your 2015 marketing resolutions list?
That’s easy– “eat more pizza!”  But seriously…  we love to top our best.  We’re committed to continuing our commitment to have better ingredient on our pizzas, leadership in online sales and deepening relationships with our customers, partners and employees.

 

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