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 w John DeVincent, Award-Winning CMO of eMoney Advisors

03/27/14

John DeVincentFaced with big-budget competitors boasting award winning advertising, John DeVincent, CMO of eMoney Advisors, needed to find a fresh way to stand out. For DeVincent, this meant focusing his attention on eMoney Advisors’ rare, personal approach in a business that is increasingly self-served. DeVincent’s marketing tactics revolve around excellent customer service and include openness to changes in marketing trends. At the end of the day, his efforts make eMoney more visible in the financial services industry, introducing trusted advisors to a solution that helps them build and strengthen client relationships.

Note: DeVincent won the CMO Club President’s Circle Award late last year.  According to The CMO Club founder Pete Krainik, this award is based on “a marketing executive’s demonstrated delivery in supporting the DNA of The CMO Club for building relationships with peers in the club, sharing and helping others, and referring other CMOs to join the world’s best CMO conversations.”  

Drew: A CMO has a lot of choices in terms of where they invest their time.  What have been your top priorities in the last couple of years?
My focus has been around product innovation – the messaging and positioning of new products. eMoney Advisor operates within the B2B space and our focus has been on presenting software products to financial advisors who are looking for innovative and all-encompassing wealth planning solutions for their clients. Ultimately we’re looking to position ourselves as advocates for financial advisors in the marketplace.

Drew: Have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s worked really well and what hasn’t?
There haven’t been any huge surprises. We’ve been working on new 90-second video elements that have shown success so far. Online advertising doesn’t work quite as well (though we don’t focus as much of our efforts here). Additionally, we’re beginning to expand our digital presence to offer constant flow of timely and relevant content to our audience. This industry experiences frequent market changes, which calls for us to shift our priorities. Regardless of this unpredictability, we do a fantastic job of creating content to accommodate these changes.

Drew:  You have some noisy competitors like eTrade and Fidelity.  How have you been able to get your message across without being drowned out by talking babies and endless green lines?
eMoney is a smaller firm. We can’t compete with the advertising budgets of our big competitors like eTrade and Fidelity. Instead, we created a campaign to position our user-base as “trusted advisors” and encourage them to leverage our product as a tool to further strengthen the advisor-client relationship. It can be challenging because of eTrade and Fidelity’s award-winning advertising, but when clients need comprehensive financial advice, they look for a trusted advisor, not an automated system. We advocate for the human advisors – the ones who provide a personal touch.

Drew: Marketing seems to be getting increasingly complex in terms of ways to spend and ways to monitor. Has it gotten more complex for you and if so, how are you dealing with that complexity?
As marketers, we wear several hats.  At eMoney, we manage a blog, create video vignettes, maintain a social media presence and employ traditional advertising. Again, how you shift that focus is dictated by the market itself. With that in mind, it is extremely important for us to work collaboratively to align the 12-15 tasks assigned at any given time.  We make sure we communicate among ourselves to develop our campaigns that reach all channels based on what’s currently relevant in the industry.

Drew: Have you been able to link your innovative marketing activities to the kinds of business metrics favored by CEOs?
We have a number of analytics coming back from these 12-15 projects on any given day. What we do is take the key metrics from each campaign initiative and tie it to an ROI for our CEO. Edmond has come to rely on these metrics as a starting point to strategize for future initiatives.

Drew: How do you stay close to your customers when the relationship is primarily online?  
We’ve realigned ourselves to become a regional company. Our sales team attempts to get as many face-to-face meetings with prospective clients as possible. We also have an advisory board that we meet with twice a year. Our retention team monitors whether or not our clients (advisors and their staff) are actually logging in and using the software. If we find out that they are not, we reach out and offer educational resources, software training, etc. Additionally, we provide classroom training sessions. We are really focused on this because, to us, getting in front of customers to facilitate the natural interactions that we have as human beings is imperative to a lasting advisor/client relationship.

Drew: A lot of financial services firms have tip-toed into social.  Do you see social as viable channel for your business and if so, in what capacity?  
The financial services industry has been very slow to adopt social because of the regulation and compliance gray areas associated with it. FINRA has been very slow in defining how social media initiatives should be handled in our industry. There is a fine line between what is considered advice and what isn’t. Recently, we’ve seen more advisors embracing the tool as an arena to show thought leadership, reach existing clients and find prospects.  However, LinkedIn is currently our biggest social platform. We are using it heavily as a recruiting platform. Highly educated, high-income prospective clients are on LinkedIn and that’s who we see our advisors going after.  However, we’ve recently ramped up our efforts around Twitter and Facebook.  By leveraging these channels, we can participate in current industry conversations, connect with thought leaders and show the depth of our own knowledge.

Drew: What are you doing in the content marketing area?
We have a corporate blog and a user-focused knowledge community blog called Ask eMoney. On this blog, we’ve included eMoney-focused content, as well as general industry best practices. The content is incredibly rich to the point that I’ve hired people whose sole responsibility is managing the blog. We’re also increasing efforts to identify people who are knowledgeable in the industry as content contributors. We’ve found that good content is incredibly sticky – people become more interested in your site and, therefore, your product.

Drew: Do you agree with the notion that “marketing is everything and everything is marketing” and if so how have you extended the boundaries of your job beyond the normal purview of the CMO?   
I do agree with the notion that the CMO’s job extends to supporting the entire customer experience. In my mind, during every customer interaction, you either win or lose share. It’s either positive or negative. That includes everything from a phone call and training, to customer support and interacting with sales people; you want to make the process easy for your customers. You want to be the company that people want to do business with. It’s important to stay relevant and stir emotion. Make people feel good. If you face obstacles, you must make sure you overcome them with style and go above and beyond to problem-solve. Being a small company, this has been a relatively easy philosophy to adopt. The customer experience is a big priority for our CEO. We focus heavily on best practices and proper training for our team — embracing that philosophy as a company. You have to consistently go above and beyond to create an excellent customer experience.

Q+A w CMO Award Winner Julie Garlikov, CMO, Torani

01/16/14

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Following the year of “content marketing” that was 2013, we can only hope that 2014 is destined to be as rewarding a year for consumers on social media. Many brands are figuring out that earning customer loyalty via great content is on par with nurturing a real, face-to-face relationship, in that being a supportive, useful and interesting friend will almost always earn you an invite to the birthday party.

Some, like Torani, are well ahead of this curve. For a product like Torani, which relies on retailers to establish the first relationship with customers, it pays to keep tabs on the rolodex by not just touching base over social media, but also adding to their daily lives in a fun, relevant way. CMO Julie Garlikov, who won a President’s Circle Award at the recent CMO Club Awards, explains the ways Torani grows and manages its loyal fan base on a modest budget.

Drew: A CMO has a lot of choices in terms of where they invest their time.  What have been your top priorities in the last 12 months?

Our business continues to grow like crazy.   I am most focused on growing our consumer business and improving household penetration.  This includes some significant product innovation, as well as educating and engaging our consumer in new ways.

Drew: Have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s worked really well and what hasn’t?

We’ve launched a lot of new products this year.  What’s surprising is how long it has taken to get some of them off the ground, especially when you’re educating a market on a new behavior.  The other big surprise to me this year is the explosive growth in mobile, which now accounts for almost 30% of our online traffic.  We’re rapidly adapting our ecommerce platform to be better optimized for mobile.

Drew:  Has the fact that Torani does not have a huge multi-million budget forced you to be more innovative?  

We have to find the right partners to work with us who believe in our brand and who want to work with a great, local, family-owned business.  And, we need to focus more on things like PR and creating social buzz to get the word out.  We can’t do a lot of mass tactics, so we look to build really high loyalty with our business and consumer users, turning them into uber fans.

Drew: Have you been able to link your innovative marketing activities to the kinds of business metrics favored by CEOs?

I use a lot of test/invest methodology, trying things out small scale, proving that they deliver and then expanding.  It’s the only way to make ensure the best ROI on limited budgets.

Drew: Marketing seems to be getting increasingly complex in terms of ways to spend and ways to monitor. Has it gotten more complex for you and if so, how are you dealing with that complexity?

Julie: For such simple products, we have a very complex business with many channels and differing needs.  When you add all the new ways to market, it is complicated, and that’s what makes it interesting.  We’ve really focused the team on specific channels and segments and that helps them market the most successfully.

Drew: How do you stay close to your end users when the relationship with these folks is mainly owned by your retailer partners?  

Julie:  We get a great sense from social media and listening of what’s important to our user.  We’ve also been doing a lot of event marketing and mobile tours the past two years so we can hear more directly what our users like.  Between our retail partners and our foodservice distributors, we can be one step removed.  So, we have to create opportunities to engage regularly and we do a lot of research like ethnographies to really understand what our consumer wants and needs.

Drew: Has social media played much of a role in the driving your brand?  If so, how has it helped or how do you see it helping in the future?  

Julie:   We have a very active, loyal fan base that we engage with daily on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.  We also have done a lot of blogger outreach and engage with various bloggers on a regular basis, sending them new products, etc.  This helps get the word out on a small brand and is a big part of our acquistion strategies.

Drew: Content marketing is hot topic at the moment.  Are you increasing your investment in this area?

Julie:  Yes, this is a huge area for us.  We’ve developed videos and will be producing even more as the year wraps up.  Everything from how-to videos to funny content.  We also continue to create enticing inspirational photos and editorial, almost like what you see in a food magazine.  We’ve found that inspiring people with seasonal recipes and super on-trend ideas generates significant sales lift, so content is key for us.

Drew: Do you agree with that notion that marketing is everything and everything is marketing and if so how have you extended the boundaries of your job beyond the normal purview of the CMO?    

Julie:   This is so true.  We’ve actually created a social media/buzz marketer position within our department and moved consumer service into marketing.  That way, if someone engages on Facebook or Twitter or the old school phone, we’re able to have one seamless approach to dealing with their experience.  And, we’ve got a team who does the same thing for our commercial user too.

 

Q+A on Marketing Leadership w Phil Clement, Global CMO, Aon

01/8/14

Phil_ClementAsk any brand manager of a global company, and they’ll tell you that no two geographic regions are alike. Now, imagine coordinating marketing efforts across not a few, but 120 countries! This is Phil Clement’s reality as the Global CMO of insurance and risk advisor Aon. The company has a presence in nearly half the world’s territories, but has managed to uphold a consistent brand image thanks to a sponsorship of Manchester United, thoughtful content creation and some key employee surveys. After winning the prestigious President’s Circle Award at this year’s CMO Club Awards, Phil graciously agreed to elaborate on these efforts and more. This is part 1 of our extensive (and fabulously instructive) interview.

Drew: Can you provide a quick overview of AON in terms of your role in the insurance industry? 

We’re predominantly in the B2B space. If you’re a hospital and you want to build a new hospital in New York, you would hire us to advise you on maximizing the health and benefit plans of your employees. We help people access what they need to address risk and help their people.

Drew: As a risk advisory, what role does marketing play for Aon?

Generally speaking, people are quite articulate and well-versed in the risk they might face. Our marketing needs to make sure that, when they are concerned about those issues, we come to mind and folks want to engage us in solving their problems.

Drew: Besides Aon’s sponsorship of Manchester United, tell me about some of your other marketing initiatives. 

One of my favorites is our best employer survey. What we do in about 100 countries is identify who are the best employers. It’s a two-part process. The first is to identify what the local economy believes are the best qualities of an employer and then rank the companies against that criteria. The process of doing the survey, doing the ranking, emailing the report and having a media partner distribute it is very affordable. It’s difficult for us to move the needle if we do one good idea in one geography. When you’re sifting through $11 billion in revenue in 120 countries, one percent improvement in one country can get lost. Getting something like the best employers program to work globally has been wonderful for us.

Similarly, rather than producing 100 reports on benchmarking and data, which we may have done in the past, we pick a few that cut through the noise. One would be our risk map, where we publish a map that is color-coded based on equivocal risk. What’s the likelihood of a change in regime? If you’re doing business around the world, this map becomes an important tool, and it also suggests that we’re experts in understanding risk. Those are two of my favorite ideas.

Drew: Both of those would go in the bucket of content marketing. If we zero in on the risk map, have you looked at it from a global SEO point of view? Are you doing other things around risk and trying to own that word?

The nice thing about the word “risk” or “HR” is that we’re already number one in most of those spaces. What I started working on eight years ago was defining our spaces and making sure we had the presence to be number one. Our SEO strategy is consistent; we want to make sure people can find us.

Also, the best employers and the risk map live up to an acronym that I created called CUTT. When it comes to content, we want it to be Compelling, Useful, Timely and Transactional, meaning it captures people’s attention, it’s something that people feel they can use and reference, and it directly correlates to our business. A lot of marketers are good at hitting one of the four. It’s a constant challenge to get teams to think about hitting all four.

Drew: What does it take to hit all four?

Just consistency, and asking yourself, as a team, is this compelling? Is this useful? Is this something that they can put in their box to be read during Christmas vacation and it’s July, or is this something that they need to react to? That last piece requires a deep understanding of what your services are and why you market them, so you can give clients an in-road to want to work with you.

Drew: Do you have a team in place that is focused on content development, and has that team grown?

No. What we have is a responsibility that is injected into all roles. We have an HR model centered on five principles, and those are the same principles we use in our leadership model. Employees are evaluated by these, and they’re part of our brand as well. One of them is the value of business results; whether you’re facing clients or not facing clients, you have to understand what drives their business results.

Drew: If you don’t have employees only focused on content, do you not see Aon as a publisher of content, in a sense? It sounds like you have two big tent poles and content between.

That’s fair. I’m certainly not looking to solve the world’s problems in publishing. If you were a risk manager for a restaurant chain, our newsletters on food contamination and food safety—what’s being done preventively and what’s being filed as problems and claims—might be your most valuable reading. That’s all we aspire to.

As a CMO with 120 countries and 32 industries, how do you stay on top of what might be of interest to the risk manager at the restaurant in Rome?

First and foremost, you realize that you can’t. We just try to educate and share ways to solve problems, ways to look for the information, and try to create as much enjoyment of the challenge as possible. A lot of stuff, like the Manchester United sponsorship, came out of the center. We distribute assets that people can use, but there is always local jazz, where people improvise or do neat, creative things.

That being said, we have metrics, reports and a weekly dashboard that help me understand if something is going right or wrong. The thing that drives performance over a long period of time tends to be somewhere in the middle. We spend a lot of time working together. My favorite thing is to roll up my sleeves and work in geography on a project with a team. I prefer that to studying a report because we learn more from the perspective of what’s going on in other places.

Drew: You’ve been the CMO at Aon for eight years and must have been part of / witnessed some major changes, right?  

We were around $19 a share when I joined, and we’re well over $80 now. We’ve been one of the highest performing stocks in the financials services through some pretty rough times. We sold about a third of the company and bought a new third. We went from number 2 to number 1 in every space. I’ve got a group of colleagues on the executive management team that I really believe in and my CEO brings out the best in everyone.

Q+A on Marketing Innovation w Geoff Cottrill, CMO, Converse

01/6/14

Geoff CottrillConverse is the creative world’s favorite party guest, which may be why it has so many friends—over 37 million on Facebook, to be exact. Just how did the sneaker brand get so popular? Not by being the life of the party, but by practicing good people skills and good social etiquette, says CMO Geoff Cottrill. Rather than stepping on toes and dominating the social conversation, Converse lets its audience guide the dialog, knowing that the brand belongs to those who wear it. Geoff shared these insights and more with me during this year’s CMO Club Awards, where he won honors for innovation in marketing—and after you read our conversation, you’ll understand why.

Drew: Have you been able to link your innovative marketing activities to the kinds of business metrics favored by CEOs?

We are fortunate to have a massive and loyal following who is willing to post content on our behalf. To know that we have millions of friends on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of photos tagged #Converse on Instagram is humbling. But for us real success is defined by our ability to build meaningful relationships that are true to our core values, spark creativity and inspire advocacy.

Drew: The Converse page currently has more than 37 million likes – one of the top 10 most popular pages on Facebook. How did you build such an active following on social media?  

As a global brand that speaks to personal style and expression, social media presents itself as a natural forum for us to communicate with our consumers. It’s absolutely a focused part of our overall communication efforts but at the same time we understand that we are not leading that communication, nor do we want to. We are a welcomed party guest. We keep it simple.  Be interesting, think creatively, think globally, believe in what we are saying, and take a step back to listen and watch.

Social media is a tremendous vehicle to learn about your consumers, what they like (or don’t like about you), what they are interested in hearing from us, what they’re doing in their lives, and what they are saying to each other. This brand belongs to the people who wear it.

Drew: We love your campaign to support up and coming musicians by giving them free recording time and promoting them via social media. How did you decide to get involved in the music industry?  

One of our goals as a brand is to give back and help inspire a new generation of musicians.  We talked to a lot of musicians and it became apparent that studio time was costly and unaffordable for many emerging artists who had turned to home studios and their bedrooms to record.  By opening Converse Rubber Tracks, it’s a way for us to say thank you to musicians all over who have helped us become the brand we are and to provide a place for new artists to have access to resources they may not be able to afford. It is Converse’s way to invest in the future of music.

Drew: Marketing seems to be getting increasingly complex in terms of ways to spend and ways to monitor. Has it gotten more complex for you and if so, how are you dealing with that complexity?

We don’t see it as being complex because our philosophy hasn’t changed. We strongly believe in building goodwill in communities and creating long-lasting brand ambassadors for the brand. It’s not just about selling sneakers.

Drew: A CMO has a lot of choices in terms of where they invest their time.  What have been your top priorities in the last 12 months?

In the next few seasons, Converse sees a huge potential of opportunities within avenues such as our wholesale accounts and securing key leadership positions with these important retailers through exclusive partnerships and product offerings. Another category with tremendous opportunity is young men and to truly get after the young male consumer from a head-to-toe perspective, encompassing footwear to apparel to accessories. The plan to reach them will be through the re-launch of the CONS segment, targeted specifically to their street culture, sport-inspired lifestyle.

Drew: Have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s worked really well and what hasn’t?

Our consumers are always surprising us! But we see these surprises in a truly positive way because we can always do better and are constantly seeking improvements.

Drew: What’s your perspective on content marketing?   

Our philosophy on content marketing is built on driving meaningful relationships that are true to our core values, spark creativity and inspire advocacy. Whether it’s about showcasing a musician that has just recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn, a showcase we put on at SXSW, a street art exhibit in Beijing or a Three Artists One Song collaboration – we focus on developing stories that are compelling for our consumers. 

Drew: Converse has been in business since 1908. How do you balance respecting the tradition of the Converse brand with innovative marketing?

Converse has a long history in music. It has been worn on stage by legendary punk bands in the 1970s and adopted by kings of hip-hop, new wave, rockabilly, grunge and others throughout the decades. Musicians and creative people are our core audience, and we need to do everything possible to foster this community. We want to be useful to the community and never take advantage of it or overstep our place. We want to bring cultures together and celebrate music. In other words, we want to be in it, without getting in the way.

Drew: How do you evaluate/measure the success of your marketing?  

We believe that success is not measured in the traditional sense (i.e. ROI).  The number of deep relationships we can foster with the creative community—not media impressions, and content views, measures success for the brand.

Drew: Do you agree with that notion that marketing is everything and everything is marketing?  How do you as a marketer impact the entire customer experience? 

Marketing is not everything and everything [is not marketing] to Converse. It’s has always been the brand’s intention that our products and consumers drive the marketing, not the marketing driving our product. Our approach to the consumer experience is to invest and grow our connections to consumers. As a brand, Converse is on a mission to own “sneakers” and this will be communicated across all our messaging. We want the word “sneakers” to become synonymous with unleashing the creative spirit.

 

Q+A on Fashion Marketing w Louise Camuto, CMO of The Camuto Group

12/17/13

Louise Camuto of The Camuto GroupFor The Camuto Group brand family, one thing is certain: luxury runs in their blood. But with such a diverse portfolio, including brands like Vince Camuto, Jessica Simpson, BCBG Max Azria and Arturo Chiang, how does the company know where to focus its marketing efforts?

In my recent conversation with Louise Camuto, CMO of The Camuto Group and recipient of a Marketing Innovation Award at this year’s CMO Club Awards, she explained how her company provides a consistent luxe experience for women around the world, no matter which designer they prefer.  Having never taken on the challenge of fashion marketing its always been a bit of a mystery to me but talking with Louise, its clear that there are those who’s success in this stylistic milieu is no accident.  Read on to find out why.

Drew: The Camuto Group is a family of 11 very different brands. How do you infuse The Camuto Group values and maintain consistent messaging across all of your brands?

Louise: At Camuto Group, We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can interpret product – from footwear to apparel – in the most on-brand manner.  We have been able to lead a brand-building effort with the development of footwear as well as develop product into an existing apparel collection that not just extends a brand into new territory but enhances the presence at retail.  In addition, I emphasize the importance of IMAGE and brand consistency daily with my team.  We work closely with our international partners to ensure that the way a brand is represented at every consumer and trade touch point not only reflects the DNA but also reinforces the message and aesthetic which allows for the brand experience to omnichannel.

Drew: How does new product development work at The Camuto Group? Does it report in to you? 

Louise:  Yes, the design teams report in to me for the 18 women’s categories. Our design process is extensive.  We have a team of people who shop all over the world for inspiration and they bring ideas, concepts and materials to the table for review.  We sit as a team and determine what items are appropriate for each of our brands and we spend a lot of time analyzing the marketplace for trend direction as well as what’s happening at the consumer level.  What I have found to be paramount is listening to customers.  When I am in any of our stores, I watch how the customer shops, how she selects product, as well as her purchasing process.  When we work on our campaign looks we collaborate with Vince, our marketing team and with PR to ensure we are on trend and delivering something exciting to the customer.

Drew: A CMO has a lot of choices in terms of where they invest their time.  What have been your top priorities in the last 12 months?

Louise: My focus recently has been building the Vince Camuto lifestyle.   I have spent a lot of time working on our retail store roll out globally.  It is so important to have a strong store image that supports the brand direction and it has been my goal to create a luxe consumer experience for women around the world at this price point.  I am proud of the 30 stores that we have opened including the luxury flagship, VC Signature by Vince Camuto on Madison Avenue in New York.  I spend a lot of time working on the creative presentation of all of our brands.  We live in a world where the ways in which a customer can be reached are online, in-store, in print and of course through social media.  I have invested a lot of time over the past year ensuring that the brand voices are consistent with the brand DNA.

Drew: Have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s worked really well and what hasn’t?

Louise: We have been so fortunate lately with our initiatives.  We haven’t experienced too many hiccups, nor have we had any product launches not succeed.  I think our biggest challenge is constantly innovating and being ahead of the curve in terms of our product offerings, assortments and design direction.

Drew: How are you using social media as a marketing tactic? (Awareness, customer service, etc.)

Louise: Social media continues to  be a significant portion of our business.  We have really invested in a team to build the brand voice cross-channel.  Today, customers spend a lot of time online looking at fashion.  The internet has really democratized the business which is exciting.  The influence of bloggers in today’s world is a breath of fresh air to me.  You really see how the customer actually wears and styles your product.  Delving into the online space has really helped with the design process as I continually think about the end use of a skirt, top, pant, dress and what she would be looking for coming up in the next season. It’s also a great way to share new product and immediately test the response. Louise Loves on our site has also reached a following. It has a selection of great items to make a look and we can follow how many hits we get and how it drives her to buy.

Drew: How do you evaluate/measure the success of your marketing?  Are there some channels that work a better for you than others?

Louise: I read all the selling reports and market recaps reports daily.  I am very engrained in the business as it is not about what I think works, it is about how the consumer responds to your brand and your product. I also look at how our advertised styles perform versus the items that are not included in our campaign.  I love market research as I think it helps establish a framework for understanding who your customer is and what she is looking for when she shops.  I love analyzing our online business as well because it is the purest form of analysis in the marketplace today.  You are able to understand how your direct mail, email blasts, print campaigns, celebrity support and editorial credits impact sell-through and in turn leverage the knowledge to further reach your customer and meet her needs.  Online has been very successful for us but we are also seeing a lot of positive results from our brick and mortar stores as well.

Drew: Content marketing is a hot topic at the moment.  What’s your perspective on content in terms of its effectiveness?  Are you increasing your investment in this area?

Louise:  We are investing in content and product marketing extensively as we find it highly effective in engaging with our customers.  It also allows us to be able to extend our brand message to a wider audience.  We utilize content marketing online to relate to the woman that is looking for fashion tips, advice and information.  It is another way for us to be helpful to our customers while not pushing product.  I think the balance between creating interesting content and achieving sales goals is important as content marketing is truly an extension of our commitment to customer service.

Drew: How do you see the retail design industry evolving over the next 10 years? What steps are you taking at The Camuto Group to stay ahead of the curve?

Louise: I think we are in a period of true innovation.  I think stores are creating experiential programs that allow for engagement with the customer at point of sale.  We have adopted several tactics in order to engage with our customers at retail.  When we build out a store, we have created a shoppable wall as the store barricade so that customers can shop the line and engage with the brand while the store is being built out.  Once the store opens, we utilize video to bring the brand to life.  We just launched men’s so this year we are able to have the woman interact with the man in order to tell the full brand story.  We also have ipads in store so that people can look at the total Collection, even if an item is not carried, they can style what they are purchasing with the total collection in order to create a complete look that is their own!

What’s the biggest marketing risk you’ve taken at The Camuto Group? How did it play out?

Louise: Several years ago, we relaunched Vince Camuto footwear and invested in a broad-based marketing campaign that crossed all channels.  It was important for us to get the message out and we immediately saw success through exponential growth in brand awareness as well as sales.  The marketing investment also allowed us to expand the multi-category licensing program rather quickly as we became a more significant brand for our retail partners almost overnight.

Drew: Do you agree with the notion that marketing is everything and everything is marketing and if so how have you extended the boundaries of your job beyond the normal purview of the CMO?   

Louise: I absolutely believe everything is marketing and marketing is everything.  You truly live marketing every day.  Marketing occurs across every channel and touch point and I think the total experience is what drives a customer to love a brand and become a loyal enthusiast.  I think we constantly need to push the envelope in marketing to be ahead of the curve and innovate so we are always an intriguing brand for our woman.  I believe in always trying to lead and not follow and I work closely with the team to always be at the forefront of what’s happening with the consumer so we reach her every day, in every way.

Q+A on Innovation w Jonathan Becher, CMO, SAP

12/6/13
Jonathan Becher, SAP

Jonathan Becher, SAP

Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP, sees innovation as absolutely mandatory, to be approached by organizations in leaps and bounds rather than baby steps. In his world, ROI means “return on innovation,” and the culture of innovation at SAP is an essential foundation for providing an innovative, meaningful customer experience.  Its little wonder that Jonathan won The CMO Award for Innovation from The CMO Club.  Here’s our interview:

Drew: In your presentation at The CMO Club Summit in April, you mentioned that innovation isn’t a buzz word; it’s an imperative for marketers. Can you explain why innovation is so important, particularly for CMOs?

Jonathan: For all good business leaders, there comes a day when you realize: “what got us here, won’t get us where we need to go.” We all know that the way customers consume information, products, and services has completely changed. It follows that the way we need to engage with customers must also change. However, incremental changes will not be sufficient; we need to innovate the discipline of marketing.

Drew: Real innovation requires organizational change. Can you talk about the changes you made to your marketing organization to institutionalize innovation?

Jonathan: A few years ago, I created a group called “Innovation Marketing.” The charter of that group was to try new things, break rules, make people uncomfortable, and change the status quo. The team generated tons of ideas, many of which were very interesting and impactful. However, it didn’t accomplish what I expected, as we were essentially segregating innovation to one small group. In fact, it created some resistance to change and innovation. We disbanded the group and focused on creating a culture of innovation instead. Now, we highlight efforts throughout marketing that push boundaries and embrace change, even ones that are not completely successful. In some sense, we’re reinforcing our corporate motto of “Run Better” – the quest for relentless improvement.

Drew: Marketing seems to be getting increasingly complex in terms of ways to spend and ways to monitor. Has it gotten more complex for you and, if so, how are you dealing with that complexity?

Jonathan: Luckily for me, I run marketing for a company that specializes in using technology to solve complex business challenges. For example, I have a mobile dashboard where my leadership team and I have real-time visibility into all parts of our marketing business. We can see what’s working and what isn’t, then redeploy resources and budget as necessary.

Drew: Have you been able to link your innovative marketing activities to the kinds of business metrics favored by CEOs?

Jonathan: Innovation is an investment, so you need ROI for it as well. Return on innovation.

We try to run marketing like a business, which means that we need to be able to prioritize between all of our initiatives. From an analytics point of view, we distinguish between the macro view (crunching data on a scale unheard of a few years ago) and the micro view (data equivalent of a focus group).

At the macro level, we apply marketing-mix modeling to get a holistic understanding of marketing performance across channels. We can then tie marketing investments directly to corporate objectives, and reallocate the mix accordingly. Based on this type of analysis, we have shifted unproductive spend to tactics where we have seen higher ROIs.

At the micro level, we’re constantly trying to optimize each interaction with our customers. Whether it’s an outbound marketing campaign, a customer event, or an inquiry on our Web site, we apply statistical analysis to the wealth of information we have about our customers to predict what’s relevant to them and to personalize the engagement. This level of customer-centric targeting, along with a test-learn culture, allows us to measure the effectiveness of everything we do and maximize ROI at the micro level.

Drew: SAP seems to be in the midst of a brand transformation. Can you describe that transformation?

Jonathan: I’m not sure whether you should call it a transformation or a brand expansion. For many years, our approach was talking about how big, successful companies run SAP. You didn’t know what exactly we did for the companies, but you knew we were somehow linked with their success.

Now, we’re taking a much more human approach that’s closely linked to our company mission to “help the world run better and improve people’s lives.” We’re telling stories of how we create value, not only for our customers, but for our customers’ customers. For example, rather than talking about how a big bank benefits from an SAP deployment, we talk about how a man in a very rural area who can’t physically get to a bank is now able to bank on his mobile phone. This access to banking opens up entirely new economic possibilities that weren’t previously an option to this man and improves his life. SAP makes that possible.

It’s not just “business runs SAP”; it’s also “life runs SAP.” You can sum up the change as moving from B2B to P2P – people to people.

Drew: As CMO, have you been able to address the entire customer experience? Were there any organizational challenges you needed to overcome? 

Jonathan: In my view, the customer experience is the responsibility of every single employee at SAP. That said, marketing must be the champion of the overall customer experience across all channels.

While marketing doesn’t own all the customer experience channels, it can help make the experience consistent. For example, we know that, if we invite a group of executives to one of our briefing centers for a day of meetings, we’re obligated to deliver a consistent experience – from the messaging on the invitation to the car ride from the airport, and everything else until our guests are back in the airport to go home.

Marketing doesn’t manage the briefing centers, but we provide counsel to the facilities managers and the sales teams that run the meetings to help them understand the story they want to tell and provide them with the right assets to help them tell that story.

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