Category

Marketing Operations

Gartner: Three Tips for Building an Agile Marketing Culture

The landscape for marketers is changing more rapidly than ever. And for marketing leaders who feel like their teams and resources are already stretched thin, this can be a daunting reality. But, one of the best ways to plan for this reality, and to prepare your organization to maximize marketing resources is to develop a marketing culture around agile thinking.

That’s according to Marc Brown at Gartner, who explains that today’s marketing leaders can cultivate an agile culture – and agile thinking – by focusing their attention on three key areas: Skills, Data, and Operations. So, what does that actually look like for real CMOs and marketing directors?

Let’s dive in.

professional meeting - a woman presenting

Build Your Team with the Skills to Match Your Vision

Nearly every member of your marketing team probably has different skills. From copywriters to designers to marketing automation experts, your marketing department is more than the sum of its parts. But just as each member of your team has different skills, so too does each marketing department have a different overall vision for success. And that vision should shape the skills makeup of your team.

Marketing visions can vary vastly from team to team,” Brown explains. “Assembling a team with a unified vision all starts with the recruiting process.” To this end, Brown recommends taking the time to put down on paper exactly what your team’s vision is – what metrics success will be judged by, what key goals you will hope to achieve, etc. Then, Brown recommends recruiting “T-shaped” team members, or team members who possess a broad breadth of skills while also demonstrating deep expertise in a single specific area. According to Gartner’s 2017 Marketing Organization Survey, 53% of modern marketers are already “T-shaped,” so developing your perfect team is mostly a matter of mapping everyone’s skills to your larger team vision.

Data is the Foundation of Agility

As Brown explains, one of the fundamental characteristics of an agile marketing approach is constant iteration and analysis. What’s working, what isn’t, and how closely are you measuring it? “For a marketing team to break the norm and boost engagement, they must first understand exactly what ‘the norm’ is,” Brown says. “Agile marketing’s iterative approach enables you to incorporate data and insights into your planning on an ongoing basis.”

Gartner specifically recommends using your customer data to create a multichannel 360-degree of your customer’s journey, from Buy to Own to Advocate. “Using this data is key to understanding pain points. You can’t find innovative solutions if you don’t understand the common snags in your systems, customer behavior, and shopping trends,” says Brown. If you want to build an agile marketing team that can respond to new trends at a moment’s notice, you must first establish the data practices to discover them.

Agile Operations Are Not Always Linear

Part of shifting to an agile marketing mindset is adjusting your expectations for your operational workflows. Traditional marketing operations tend to conceptualize these processes as flowing naturally, step-by-step, from something like Strategy to Research, Design, Deploy, and finally, Measure. But as Brown explains, agile marketing operations look very different.

“It’s better to view the process as a loop to continuously facilitate collaboration, ideation, development, execution, and measurement.” This, Brown says, is to account for the fact that no team can ever predict all the ways and areas where optimization has opportunities to improve the process. “Although it may seem like these processes naturally flow from one stage to the next, there’s never a one-size-fits-all formula. Certain stages may be conducted simultaneously in order to view the situation from all angles, or to reevaluate a plan or to pivot and adjust direction.”

*****

An agile marketing mindset helps marketing teams position themselves for future success in a quickly-changing landscape. But to put themselves in a position to respond with agility, marketing leaders must take steps now to build and establish an agile mindset. By focusing on Skills, Data, and Operations, smart CMOs can do just that, today.

Related blogs:

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

Belief-Driven Brands: Reshaping Retail Landscape in 2019

be the change - brand activism

Consumers today are more plugged into social issues and concerns than any group since the 1960s. And that impacts the way they shop, too. That’s according to a new Edelman’s report  “Brands Take A Stand,” which examines how belief-driven purchases are reshaping the retail landscape in 2019. So, how can brands take a stand in the new year, while also helping their bottom lines stand tall?

gen-z-holding arms together

Brands Can Drive Revenue by Standing for Something

For a long time, the prevailing logic was that a brand’s marketing should not ruffle any feathers. If there was political or social turmoil in the air, your branding should avoid it, and instead focus solely on the merits of your product. But as the name of the Edelman report suggests, the market is changing, and brand marketing is changing with it.

“Consumers’ purchases are becoming more and more belief-driven, particularly over the past year,” the report states. “In every market surveyed, more consumers were taking a brand’s mission and activism into account when making decisions about what to buy.” The report suggests that not only should brands not avoid social activism, but in fact should embrace it as a new driver of revenue in 2019.

“Taking a stand, no matter the cause is no longer something brands can shy away from if they want to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds,” the report says. And Edelman CEO Richard Edelman agrees, saying that “purchasing activism” is a simple and effective way for shoppers to feel like they’re making a difference.

“People go with their pocketbooks, in a way,” Edelman explains. “They want business to take the lead on change, and they want to feel as if they’re making an impact.”

green initiative-sustainability

The Bottom Line is The Bottom Line for Brand Activism

Brands used to steer away from activism because it would hurt their bottom lines. For each shopper who was happy with that brand’s stance, there were likely to be two or three more who either didn’t care or chose to boycott the brand for that same stance. The numbers didn’t pan out. It just didn’t make good business sense.

But all that has changed, as the cultural zeitgeist has shifted back towards activism, especially as Millennials and Generation Z make up more and more of the market (approximately 40% of all consumers and over $1.4 trillion in buying power by 2020). And, according to the Edelman report, businesses can now bolster their bottom lines by investing in brand activism.

The report reveals, 65% of global consumers are making belief-driven purchases. That’s a 50% increase over last year – an enormous shift. It also found that an estimated 57% of American consumers are currently buying or boycotting at least one brand because of its position on social issues. A similar study by Havas Media reports that belief-driven brands outperformed the overall stock market by 120% this year and that the top 50 belief-driven brands outperformed the overall S&P 500 index by more than 1200%. The bottom line is clear: for brands, the time is now to take a stand and bolster revenue with belief-driven marketing.

*****

The common marketing logic for brands used to be avoiding activism and belief-driven advertising. But not anymore. Today, brands must take a stand to win an ever-increasing portion of the consumer population. By doing so, they can not only improve their revenue but can win lasting, powerful brand loyalty that is built upon something greater than the color or quality of a product.

And that’s the bottom line.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

2019 Retail Trends: Transactional to Relational

female using interactive screen to customize shopping

As the world changes, so does customer behavior. And as customer behavior changes, the ways they want to shop do, too. And perhaps no industry needs to remain more on top of shifting customer trends and behaviors than retail.

Retail, which has already been turned upside-down by the advent of e-commerce, now must adapt to whatever 2019 has in store. With U.S. retail sales up 5.9% in 2018 from a record mark of $5.7 trillion in 2017, retail brands will need to stay sharp to keep growing. According to Daphne Leprince-Ringuet of WIRED, here are some key trends retailers should consider when looking towards the future.

Sustainability Will Be Important to Shoppers

From “hippies” to countercultural “hipsters,” environmental responsibility and sustainability have always been important to certain shopping demographics in society. But in 2019, ecological sustainability will become a major selling point for brands and retailers looking to see a little more “green” themselves. Leprince-Ringuet cites the example of British luxury fashion brand Elvis & Kresse, which reclaims thousands of tons of out-of-service fire hoses in London each year, repurposing and recycling the hose leather to create new premium goods.

“We live in the age of the circular economy, recycling materials instead of letting them go to waste at the end of their life,” Leprince-Ringuet says. “It’s [already] an upcoming trend in retail.” Brands that can position themselves as environmentally sustainable could bolster their profits, too.

shop with digital network graphics - retail continuity

Removing Friction with Strategic Partnerships

With competition stiffer than it’s ever been, and most markets increasingly saturated with choices, brands will need to continue to compete on the strength of their customer experiences – not just on price and product. In fact, a recent PwC study found that consumers will spend an average of 16% more for a better retail customer experience. And that may mean exploring new strategic partnerships for many brands. “Everything we do needs to be done for the customer, to remove friction – whether that means integrating Google Pay, or working with [partners] to develop technologies we don’t have the capacity to work on ourselves,” says Cliff Cohen, Chief Information Officer at ASOS.

What other sorts of “frictionless” experiences will customers expect?

  • “Invisible” payment. Look at Uber. With payment linked directly to customers’ credit cards, users never even think about paying for their ride. It’s taken care of automatically. And that removes part of the friction that makes Uber so attractive compared to, say, going to an ATM and calling a taxi.
  • Multichannel experiences. Today, customers expect brands to recall the entire history of that shopper’s interaction with them and be able to offer them promotions, coupons, and suggestions based on that personal history. And if your brand can’t do this today? Partner with someone who can. Citing one retailer’s strategic CX goals, Leprince-Ringuet says, “The technology is beyond the retailer’s technical capacity, so the company has teamed up with [a strategic partner] – all with the goal of making the customer experience better.”
  • Third-party payment. Not unlike “invisible” payment, millennial consumers are increasingly comfortable storing their payment information with a third-party and allowing that third party to provide that information when they “pay” for things, like Mint and Apple Wallet. This functionality can help make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Physical Stores Becoming Experience Centers with Innovation

With the online purchasing process faster by-and-large than in-store for many brands these days, brick-and-mortar stores are shifting to effectively occupy a new role: experience centers, where customers can touch, try, taste, and be tempted by your products in person. “Future retail is moving from transactional to relational,” says Emilie Colker, Executive Director at IDEO. “Brands will use the offline space to create more opportunities for people to connect with the products.”

For many brands that were once digital-only, like by-mail eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker or online mattress retailer Casper, creating physical spaces for shoppers to interact with their products adds authenticity to their brand’s perception, and is a clever way to create customer experiences that they just can’t replicate online. And to succeed with experience centers, retailers need to be agile, flexible, and ready to innovate. “In the current climate, speed matters,” says Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud. “Tools that can give retailers insight into inventories, financial forecasts, technological skill,” anything that helps create a single point of visibility into marketing supply chains will be tremendously helpful.

*****

Yes, retail is changing.

But by understanding the most important retail trends before they happen, and by establishing partnerships that prepare your brand for success, companies of all sizes can make 2019 their most successful year yet.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

Top Trends for Influencer Marketing: Are Your Audiences Under the Right Influence?

influencer marketing

“Why should I trust you?”

This is the question from customers that even the best marketing departments dread. Because after all, why should a prospect or a customer believe marketers are telling the truth when their clear intention is for their audience to spend money on their products.

Studies have shown that overall consumer confidence in the trustworthiness of corporate marketing is declining. According to some estimates, as much as 69% of consumers inherently distrust brand advertising, and 43% of respondents report that they trust brand advertising less than they used to.

Enter Influencer Marketing.

While consumer trust in brands has fallen off a cliff, trust in their fellow consumers has risen precipitously. 70% of shoppers state that they are influenced by recommendations from their peers and fellow “normal people.” In fact, consumers today are 30% more likely to purchase if it is recommended by a trusted influencer, rather than a celebrity. And 74% of consumers say that they do trust social media networks to guide them to purchase decisions.

This is where influencer marketing presents an enormous opportunity for smart companies. Let’s take a look at what Brandon Brown of Grin has identified as some of the biggest current trends in influencer marketing.

Retail Influencer Marketing Is Growing

From lifestyle to home décor to fashion, retail brands are embracing influencer marketing faster than any other segment. In fashion, for example, well-known brands like Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Zara, and Sephora are working with popular social media influencers to model their products and give audiences a taste of what they, too might look like in the featured clothes or cosmetics.

In fact, Lord & Taylor recently ran a successful campaign where they tapped 50 influencers to each post photos wearing the exact same dress and tagging it with a predetermined hashtag. The result? The dress sold out of every Lord & Taylor in America in three days. Retail brands should give influencer marketing heavy considering in their marketing plans.

people whiteboarding-marketing assessment

The Rise of B2B Influencer Marketing

The power and promise of influencer marketing isn’t just limited to retail and B2C brands, however. And one of the ingenious ways B2B brands are leveraging it is with employee advocacy programs. Over the last three years, employee advocacy programs among B2B brands have increased by 191%.

Employee advocacy programs offer the best of both worlds in influencer marketing. The brand, for its part, enjoys the trust, authenticity, and believability that only real social media advocacy from real employees can garner. The employees themselves, on the other hand, benefit from the increased “professionalism” that such content brings to their social media pages.

The fact is that B2B brands need to capture the attention of their audiences, and more so, they need to do it in a way that is authentic and lasting. Influencer marketing and employee advocacy programs are an efficient way to do both.

The Ability to Measure ROI Will Be Crucial

As with all marketing efforts, the ability to definitively prove the value and effect of influencer marketing programs will be critical to securing ongoing buy-in from key decision-makers within your organization.

Fortunately, many savvy brands are implementing clever ways to improve their ability to measure influencer marketing ROI. Just as many brands are linking their digital and print marketing channels with the use of custom URLs and promo codes, so too are they measuring influencer marketing ROI. On the simple end of the spectrum, fastidious use of one or two set hashtags for each campaign enables marketers to easily search the engagement of those hashtags.

Likewise, many brands are now distributing custom discount and coupon codes to their influencers, encouraging them to share them with their audiences. That way, whenever a customer enters that unique discount code, the brand can know for certain that they were referred by that particular influencer, and his or her promotional activities.

*****

As consumer trust in brands and marketing departments continues to plummet, B2B and B2C brands alike are turning to influencer marketing as a smart, cost-effective way to make their marketing budgets go further. If your brand is struggling with trust and authenticity, influencer marketing may be an excellent solution to consider.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

3 Marketing Tips to Deliver ROI Accountability

a hand with pencil on a calculator - ROI

For marketing teams everywhere, the name of the game is ROI. From budget to revenue to cost reduction, no figure reflects a CMO’s performance in the eyes of the C-Suite more than the return on investment. The best organizations don’t leave ROI to chance. In fact, they plan for it by building ROI accountability directly into their marketing plans. That’s according to Amy Gallo at Harvard Business Review, who explains that with discipline and foresight, marketing teams can give their ROI accountability a head start for the coming quarters.

Here are the top three tips for ROI accountability in marketing.

account-management-professional presenting in the meeting

Create a Single Point of Truth for Marketing Inventory and Resources

Taking stock of the assets, inventory, and resources at your disposal is a critical first step towards ROI accountability. Especially in larger organizations, this can be a challenge. With multiple vendors, distributors, delivery timelines, invoices, warehouses, and more, just getting a clear understanding of what’s at your fingertips can give even the bravest CMO pause.

Gallo goes further, explaining that for many organizations, it simply makes more sense to outsource this business process to an expert. “Recognize areas where it may be more cost effective to partner with an agency rather than trying to bootstrap a solution on your own,” she says. Think of this exercise as a sort of audit for your marketing procurement process. If you can’t see and understand every link in the supply chain, you simply cannot identify areas prime for optimization and cost reduction.

Build a Marketing Schedule That Sticks

Time can make fools of us all, but it doesn’t have to for your marketing organization. That’s why it’s so important to plan, establish, and stick to a schedule. Your team should do this upfront, before solidifying your strategy for the quarter.

“Set clear milestones and deadlines for each [asset]… We recommend scheduling team check-ins in advance around deadlines for key deliverables,” Gallo explains. Not only do these check-ins keep everyone accountable, but they help ensure that every member of your team knows what is expected of them and when, and gives them proactive opportunities to push back against unattainable deadlines.

But anyone can make a schedule. Sticking to it is the real key. In modern marketing, customer demands shift nearly every week. The ability to adhere to strict timelines helps guarantee that your marketing operations remain flexible, on-message, and poised to capitalize in a timely manner on any new development or opportunity. As noted above, business process outsourcing (BPO) for the procurement of physical marketing materials can help build this schedule. With experience and best practices around timelines and delivery, a trusted partner can provide both realistic deadlines and baked-in reporting, so visibility and accountability remain top priorities for your organization.

marketing management

Focus on Your Marketing Activities that Matter

This is another area where BPO can be hugely beneficial. Outsourcing generally provides higher ROI by applying expert talent, best practices, and buying power to your marketing operations, not only improving the effectiveness of your marketing materials, but also significantly lowering the costs of each procurement.

The C-Suite wants to see the bottom line. “Connect your marketing activities to ROI by tracking the path from strategy to tactic,” Gallo says. “Show how each step helps build a program that leads to a shared business goal.” Looping in a trusted partner can secure that bottom line, take unnecessary work off your already-full plate, and help ensure that marketing hits every one of the targets it outlines. With the support of the leadership team, marketing is free to aggressively pursue every opportunity.

Smart marketing teams always build ROI accountability directly into their marketing plans. By partnering with NVISION to optimize your marketing procurement and operations, you can stick to the plan.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE