During the Mad Men era of the last century, CMOs’ roles were largely confined to creating advertising, working with agencies to establish and promote their organisations’ brands. While it’s true that advertising agencies have also evolved over the years, CMOs now find themselves with a much bigger marketing footprint to fill – a digital one, which involves many more key players.
Marketing during the analogue era was straightforward, with few channels, such as TV, print, outdoor, needed to reach mass audiences. In our current digital era and information age, the number of consumer ‘touchpoints’ has exploded. Branding has taken on new meaning, encompassing everything that a customer, employee, stakeholder, fan or prospect encounters. Sounds complex and intangible? It isn’t.
Shifting from advertising-led to experience-led
Brands are important to us all. They have social and cultural impacts, in addition to commercial relevance. Brands distil complex organisations to their essence to communicate their message clearly and simply. We all have our own opinions on what brands stand for. Everybody has stories about brands they love and brands they will never do business with again. No brand is immune from public scrutiny, as transparency is the mantra of brand activists and keyboard warriors globally. The stated brand promise is the target benchmark your company makes regarding delivery of your organisational vision and strategy. This means that the vision and strategy must be executable and your delivery focused on distinctive experiences that your target customers care about.
The challenge for CMOs is to constantly keep their brands relevant to target customers. Given that customer expectations are ever increasing, successful CMOs must assimilate their shifting desires and rapidly deliver. CMOs that look to exploit relationship asymmetry or to push a didactic relationship are destined to destroy brand value.
Aligning brand vision with brand experiences and design attributes
Inspiring organisations to own the vision and be motivated to deliver is a major cultural step-change in any successful transformation. One way of doing this is through co-creation, versus purely top-down command. In addition, the budgeting method and employee rewards need to support an adaptive approach to realising delivery of the vision and strategy in an agile way. This should empower teams by giving them freedom to experiment, and not be used as a means of control. If these steps aren’t undertaken, then any change is likely to be incremental and unlikely to be a significant brand experience enhancer.
CMOs who are successful brand value enhancers drive their organisations to rapidly deliver, with fanatical customer-focused prioritisation and consistent design attributes. While these CMOs will look at high-level measures such as NPS and Return on Marketing Investment, they will also use data to direct their teams to constantly deliver, test experience enhancers, and learn.
Typically, organisations treat design attributes as a generic “do and don’t” list, which is passive. When they truly are dynamic, changes will depend on the product, customer journey, moment of truth, channel, customer segment and so on. This should drive how the organisation designs its services and trains or coaches its employees for customer interactions. Design attributes can be checked for compliance using automated systems. In addition, brand experiences and design attributes can be measured based on metrics such as NPS, meeting SLAs, OLAs and customer/employee surveys. They should also be measured objectively through service delivery metrics such as release quality, release cadence, number of customer interactions for desired action, speed of customer action and so on.
Service design closes the vision, strategy and execution gap
Service design follows some general principles that are completely aligned to marketing, such as:
- User-centred, putting the customer and employee first in designing products and services
- Co-creation, engaging all stakeholders (including customers) in the initial and ongoing design
- Experience-led, visualising the ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ end-to-end journeys for all stakeholders
- Substantiated, using feedback, insights, artefacts, evidence and experience for making decisions
When experienced service designers collaborate with transforming organisations, they bring huge value in accelerating the iterative thinking, testing and learning process through applying relevant methods and tools. They expertly remove organisational silos and barriers. The best ones rapidly realise customer-desirable, delivery-feasible and economically-viable experiences. Rapidly evaluating customer needs, prior work, ways of working, understanding current journeys, the underlying technology, supporting processes and commercial requirements. Moving quickly into test and learn delivery of future state experiences.
The most experienced service designers look at current and future customer journeys in minutes and hours, not days and weeks (or even months and years). Understanding pain points and how to create future value are often well-known concepts within the organisation; a great service designer will go a step further to extract this information and focus cross-functional teams on how to deliver. They take a pragmatic perspective in recognising existing knowledge and work, yet also challenging team members on prioritisation and decisions to create a delivery backlog. Innovation and enhancements to drive the quality and the value of interactions with your brand experiences will all be covered in the backlog, which can adapt when new needs arise.
Taking an agile approach to brand innovation
How can CMOs dynamically respond to changing customer needs and market conditions? By designing a vision, strategy, operating model and organisation to deliver targeted brand experiences, underpinned by relevant technology, data and operations.
Whether it’s automation, chatbots, artificial intelligence, or MarTech, agile CMOs can introduce any emerging innovation as part of a brand experience or customer journey improvement team. This cross-functional team covers marketing, creative, technology, data, operations, compliance, legal (and so on) to ensure that identified opportunities can be evaluated and implemented quickly without the wait for annual planning cycles or formation of large strategic project teams.
Agility and adaptability in thinking and doing are both key to ensuring that organisations can be responsive to customers and consistently delivering compelling brand experiences.