CMO’s Corner: How to Win Your Audience’s Favor in the Engagement Economy

5 Takeaways from the #MKTGnation Summit, Part 2

April 27, 2017

Marketo’s 2017 Marketing Nation Summit came to a close yesterday. During the three-day long event, some of the industry’s most influential voices descended upon San Francisco to network and share best practices around digital transformation, brand-building and more.

This year’s theme focused on the realities that marketers face in the engagement economy, a space in which audiences are bombarded with more than 3,000 advertising messages per day. In this increasingly competitive landscape, earning even a small bit of your customer’s attention is a hot commodity.

It’s now the job of the Chief Marketing Officer not only to build brand, but to cultivate a captive audience that will act on behalf of that brand. Here’s how some Chief Marketers suggest we rise to the challenge:

Stop obsessing over everyone else’s answers. Start asking your own questions instead.

The ease and availability of gathering information has made everyone an expert. Which, in turn, makes nobody an expert at anything. This is the argument of Unthinkable Podcast host Jay Acunzo, who encourages marketers to think within the context of their own brand and to use intuition, not a copycat mentality, to find their next great idea.

"Don’t compete by being better. Win by being THE ONLY." - Jay Acunzo

The best brands are those that don’t succumb to fads, but those who find ways to create magic where it makes sense. This requires a commitment to joining the conversation in a way that you never have before.

Merriam-Webster (MW) did just that. In just one year, MW grew its social media audience by 410k followers, saw a 6000% increase in impressions and a 7000% increase in press hits. How? The brand began to use its social channels to join the conversation around a great debate: whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich.

Combine that with a trending hashtag, a clever image and a linkback to the online dictionary and you have content marketing gold with off-the-charts engagement to boot.

See what Merriam-Webster is up to today on Twitter. Warning: it’s not your grandma’s dictionary.

Loosen the reigns on your buttoned-up corporate image. Less jargon, more storytelling.

Years ago, brands were able to control their entire corporate narrative. Carefully crafted communications would disseminate to audiences in the form of press releases, expensive TV spots and curated ads.

Social media has lifted the veil off of branded communications, and has given happy (and unhappy) customers the power to tell stories on behalf of our brand.  

“Your community owns your brand too.” - Marisa Thalberg

As marketers we have to be okay with this. At the end of the day, Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg and her team try to create a great customer experience over all else. This involves enabling Taco Bell lovers to engage with the brand in more unguarded ways. For example, last year her team launched “Taco Tales,” a series of videos that live on YouTube in a big push to get video and social content in front of customers.

Not every mention of your company needs to be expertly branded. It’s actually more authentic if it’s not.

Win customer brainspace with the 3 A’s

"The battle of the mind can only be won by the battle of the heart.” - Chandar Pattabhiram

Marketo CMO Chandar Pattabhiram suggests marketers consider the “3 A’s” when looking to connect with customers:

  1. Art of Storytelling: The stories you tell have to be better and more engaging than ever. To learn what stories your customers really want, practice “listen, learn and engage” in a continuous loop. Let your storytelling be informed by customer feedback, not chest-pounding.
  2. Adaptive Engagement: It’s time to act (and market) across the entire customer lifecycle. Think about bonding with the customer and creating a relationship for life. Try not to think in terms of campaigns, because your audiences certainly don’t. Iams does a great job of full-lifecycle marketing with its heart-tugging TV spots.
  3. Advocacy: Brand loyalty and brand advocacy are two different things. As brands, we want our customers to practice the latter. It’s no longer enough for our customers to simply prefer our product. We want them to cherish it and believe in its brand promise.

The best way to build brand advocacy is through an activated, passionate employee base. Passion permeates though the employees and into the customers. Just look at Disney: every touchpoint you have with the brand and its employees reinforces the idea that the company is in fact the “happiest place on earth.”

Learn how to fail and don’t let the fear drive

“I’ve been scared of everything I’ve done my entire life. The fear is not the problem. It’s accepting that fear and moving forward.” - Queen Latifah

Learning how to fail is very important, both in marketing and in life, said Marketo keynote speaker and Grammy Award-winning singer Queen Latifah.

Don’t be afraid to push the envelope with your marketing efforts. If you fail, pick yourself up and try again. And if you think absolutely everything you do is going to work, you’re crazy. Didn’t work this time? On to the next.

In this same vein, there are things that only you can do and stories that only your brand can tell. To do more, you need to separate yourself from the pack of what your competitors and peers are doing. Once you do it, you’ll realize it was worth it.

In the digital space, don’t forget the basics. The same rules still apply.

It’s easy to be distracted by the big shiny object. Even so, Marketing Interactions CEO Ardath Albee urges marketers to remember that good content comes from good readers and good writers.

"People need to learn how to write again. That's one of the reasons we have such bad content marketing." - Ardath Albee

Every video has a script. So does every infographic, eBook, PowerPoint deck and so on. Even though the mediums through which we tell stories shift, the language we use to tell them stays constant.

For more insightful takeaways from Marketo’s #MKTGnation Summit, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.