The case for applying digital transformation principles to reinvent marketing

This post is sponsored by Edelman Singapore.

Customer centricity, design thinking, agility, DevOps, prototyping, big data, artificial intelligence, and blockchain, are the currency of digital transformation. It is also where the major corporate investments to be future-ready are centred.

Meanwhile, marketing and brand communication, along with efforts to engage and converse with revenue-generating customers, seem less in the limelight. Despite the plethora of martech and performance options, inspired and insight-rich creative solutions and platforms that wow and engage new and existing customers to brand advocacy are in short supply.

The C-suite has swelled following the inception of new Cs in the form of the CIO, CGO, and CDO – with seemingly sexier and more lavishly budgeted portfolios.

But if we think back to even the most basic definition of marketing – pre Byron Sharp and mental and physical availability – to the 4Ps of product, place, promotion, and price, there is a good reason why the chief marketing officer should be regaining their seat as the most important role in terms of the ongoing wellbeing of a company.

Marketing is the function which truly understands customers. From their needs and wants, the implications for emotional and rational involvement with brands, to their subsequent purchases and ongoing relationships.

It is also the role most qualified to combine creativity, strategy and all pervasive technology to truly differentiate and build a brand.

The time is ripe for marketing (and by definition the CMO) to retake its role as the primary driver of the wellbeing of a corporation and brand.

We’ve seen this dynamic in action at some innovative brands, such as Mastercard. A former client, Sam Ahmed, now leading eCommerce at Facebook, was a key inspiration in driving initiatives such as the Mastercard Priceless Engine some years ago. A proponent of putting marketing firmly at the centre of the business.

With our heritage in helping brands build trust, and as an agency network also constantly redefining ourselves to be future-ready, Edelman recognises this dynamic and has defined a collaborative methodology to put marketing firmly back at the pinnacle of C-suite influence. We call this BrandVision.

BrandVision is a structured approach that brings together deep customer understanding via our proprietary “Data Fusion” process with the proven techniques of design thinking. It is also geared towards developing outcomes in terms of brand marketing road maps and prototype innovation initiatives.

By co-creating with our clients, Edelman taps diverse marketing skill sets and helps clients orchestrate game-changing marketing initiatives. It’s a process that leverages real customer understanding and UX/design principles to deliver more emotionally engaging brand experiences.

Data fusion is where the first genuinely unique elements come to bear. Edelman’s proprietary data extraction and transformation process provides deep detail into consumer behaviour and intent.

With sharp-shooting audience content/message consumption understanding, and channel engagement insights, we can deliver dynamic personas. This allows us to look at people via look-alike “pattern-of-life” audiences, regardless of whether the channel and media they are consuming is buyable via advertising, or not.

With the advent of always-on digital, nothing is static. Passions, fads, likes, and dislikes are in constant flux as our target markets continue to evolve. We believe this should be reflected in marketing and communications.

We elevate data-driven audience insights a step further to produce predictive intelligence via the Edelman Predictive Intelligence Centre, or EPIC as we call it. In partnership with Singapore’s Economic Development Board, Edelman’s specialist capabilities open up the potential to tap on expertise in machine learning and big data modelling.

The net result is a solution which genuinely puts today’s and tomorrow’s customer at the centre of a highly efficient and relevant marketing plan.

And while sales growth will continue to be a primary indicator of the performance of a company – transformative realities such as global warming, social influence, fake news and even geopolitical realities such as Trump and Brexit mean that a more diverse definition of marketing success is required.

Fjord (the design and innovation consultancy within Accenture Interactive) refers to this as the many facets of growth.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff also echoes this: “It’s time for a new capitalism – a more fair, equal and sustainable capitalism that actually works for everyone, and where businesses don’t just take from society, but truly give back and have a positive impact.”

The marketing function and CMO as figurehead have a pivotal role to play here – while Edelman has the perfect tool to facilitate that role via BrandVision.

The writer is Simon Lockyer, managing director, Brand, Edelman Singapore.