In our increasingly digitally enabled world, marketing teams are under pressure to master technology to drive growth. The expectation is that with every project, the marketing organization will optimize efforts in order to design more targeted, higher quality campaigns. Inside the toolbox of the modern Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a MarTech stack overflowing with opportunities.
Today’s toolbox consists of a wide range of solutions needed to ensure that every aspect of the customer journey is appropriately tracked, analyzed, and leveraged. Key factors include supporting operations, collaboration, email, video, demand generation, events, polls, sales, social, data and analytics, SEO, content, and CMS. Never before has there been a time where a CMO has had more tools, insights, and AI at her fingertips. Yet, never before has any marketer been more challenged with building and maintaining brand relevance and differentiation across a spectrum of platforms.
Think about it. The same expansive digital ecosystem that provides us, as consumers, with immediate gratification through the use of apps, websites, portals, devices and cloud-based connectivity/solutions has also created something I call “Brand Equalization,” where every brand’s historical significance is set to zero and needs to be re-established online.
"Understanding the current technical eco-system and accessibility is the key for marketing teams to gain insights"
A few years ago, I was the CMO at a Company that represented iconic brands. Offline, everyone knew the logos and respected them. Online in the app stores, these iconic brands battled with apps like Smurf village for the number 1 downloaded spot. Brand life online is different, and no amount of digital ad spend will enable you to reign supreme for too long. Large brands working to build longstanding impact need to do something different. They need to market from the inside out.
As a brand, when you are fighting a wave of rapidly evolving technology, you have two choices:
• Spend on marketing to try to keep up, or
• Do something that seems counterintuitive but has tremendous impact, by employing a People Marketing strategy.
People Marketing enables you to leverage your full MarTech stack in the most powerful way possible—through your employees. The concept of People Marketing is simple. For marketing to be as powerful as possible, look for brand advocates. Brand advocates are people who believe in your company, who are loyal to your company, and who will do whatever they can to go out of their way and share the excitement about your company with everyone else. Your employees are perfect brand advocates (if you inspire them in the right way). I call this People Marketing.
While very powerful, and seemingly simple in theory, effective People Marketing requires a company to have a solid technical infrastructure to support updated and new ways of communicating with employees. This is one of the places where the partnership between Marketing and IT is critical. The days of sending a “good old email” to the team to elicit response are over. For People Marketing to be effective, the marketing team must be able to communicate through multiple channels; dynamic screen savers, internal social systems, collaboration tools, and internal TV monitors/systems are just a few.
These alternative messaging channels enable marketing teams to captivate the employee audience, solicit response, and engage them as they would with an external customer. Once they “sell” it to the internal audience, companies unleash one of their most powerful marketing tools into the market: their brand ambassador. And, when you are a company like Mercer, with more than 20,000 employees, that is quite a powerful army helping to drive and reinforce brand value, and differentiate from the competition.
To overcome Brand Equalization and master People Marketing, companies should start with an internal technology analysis. Understanding the current technical eco-system and accessibility is the key for marketing teams to gain insights. Without doing so, marketing teams cannot effectively create strategies needed to drive growth.
IT teams working with marketing should consider the following best practices:
1. Provide visibility into technical tools that enable communication within the organization
2. Be open to considering and testing cloud-based technologies that could enhance internal communications
3. Support training of the technologies in the current MarTech stack to ensure teams can make the most of the current investment
This type of approach to marketing, which focuses on the internal teams first, enables you to create an inside-out groundswell of excitement that can allow you to drive significant impact to the bottom line. And in today’s hypercompetitive digital marketing universe, nothing could be more valuable.