Marketing Machine 2.0

Updated: Jan 3

Written by: Megan McDowell


What do you get when you study how top performing companies do marketing? You get patterns and results such as those found by Marc de Swaan Arons, Frank van den Driest, and Keith Weed.


Profound Changes within an Industry


Marketing in the past decade has changed more profoundly than almost any other field with the exception of information technology. While the tools and strategies, MROC’s in particular, have been rapidly changing to keep up with the demands of new approaches, the actual structural organization of marketing hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years. In an article entitled The Ultimate Marketing Machine published in the Harvard Business Review magazine, the authors Marc de Swaan Arons, Frank van den Driest, and Keith Weed set out to look at what an optimal marketing machine looks like. They did so by examining in-depth research done on top performing companies, as well as some underperforming companies and comparing and analyzing the common elements of success.


In light of the changes marketing departments have seen, organizations are looking to change their structure, many CMO’s don’t know what the new model should look like. The authors surmise that there is no new blueprint. Instead there should be a series of values and goals that direct them. They write, “marketing leaders instead must ask, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.” The goals and purposes of a company need to be clearly laid out before a restructuring can occur.


Marketing2020 was created by EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer) and other large companies such as Adobe to understand what distinguishes the strategies and structures of top performing market organziations from the rest. The study looked at interviews with over 350 CEO’s, CMOs, and agency owners around the world. The article examines that data gathered, highlighting the fact that companies that are “sophisticated in their use of data grow faster.” The research also showed how top performing companies treat marketing as something that permeates the whole company affecting virtually every aspect of the company.


Common Traits of Successful Companies


The Marketing2020 study found common characteristics among top performing companies. The authors write how marketers are inundated with customer data, and that it is now common place for companies to know where and when people are doing what they are doing. The high performers in the study were able to take this data and go deeper into understanding why they are doing it, which uncovers the customers needs and how to better meet those needs. The authors write, “These marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths.”


Nike + A Perfect Combination of Data and Understanding


An example of a company that is truly using data combined with an understanding of the customers needs is Nike with their Nike + suite of services and personal fitness products. Nike + has sensors embedded in shoes and wearable devices that connect to apps on your phone, tablet, computer, and social media. The sensors track the data collected from the workouts, and Nike + also gives motivational support and feedback. Nike connects the user to communities of friends, coaches, athletes and other like minded individuals. The support is tailored to each user’s needs. The article explains, “An aspiring first-time half-marathon runner, say, and a seasoned runner rebounding from an injury will receive very different coaching.” This is an example of going beyond the data collected and using it for your customers’ benefit.


The authors of the article go on to explain how top performing brands are creating deep and meaningful customer experiences by taking what they know of the customer and creating personalized offerings that build on the relationship. The example given is the spice and flavor brand McCormick which is seeking to fulfill their promise to “push the art, science, and passion of flavor.” The brand has been focusing on creating numerous touchpoints, through packaging, cookbooks, digital content, and stores. They have also created FlavorPrint which learns the customers preferred taste and offers recipe recommendations. The authors write, “FlavorPrint does for recipes what Netflix has done for movies; its algorithm distills each recipe into a unique flavour profile, which can be matched to a consumer’s taste-preference profile.” This profile can then match the customer with recipes suggestions that are unique to them.


How to Find Out Why Customers Do What They Do?


We believe that a key factor in understanding why customers do what they do can be found out best through qualitative research projects such as online diary studies or online bulletin boards. In this way, you can gather information from customers as they are in the midst of whatever task you are asking them to report on. This allows for a more instinctual response rather than the traditional focus group where the respondent is out of their natural habitat and trying to understand for themselves, why they do what they do?


The Marketing2020 study reveals that marketing certainly has changed, and that their is a lot of work that needs to be done to stand out from the pack. This work includes understanding customer insight, giving brands a sense of purpose and creating great customer experience. Then there is the internal work of the company to have members work together to inspire each other and organize themselves to carry out the purpose and mission of the company.  


If you would like to find out more about how our market research online community software can help you better understand why your customers do what they do, please feel free to contact us.


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