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Marketing defined Slalom’s Adam LeVasseur customer engagement

Empower your marketers

CEOs, does your CMO own all four Ps? (Hint: they should!)

Adam LeVasseur | February 19, 2015

Overheard: I just hired a great VP of Marketing to run my advertising.

We learned it in business school: Marketing is all about the four Ps (or five, or six, or more).

Yet, when it comes to day-to-day roles and responsibilities, marketers are so often relegated to promotion alone. Worse still, many folks in other functional areas (such as engineering, operations, and finance) assume that a marketer’s domain is getting the word out—nothing more, nothing less.

Well, what about getting the words right? Or more importantly, what about making sure your company has a good story to tell in the first place?

Let’s back up a bit …

Mature, strategic organizations know that great marketing starts with an intimate knowledge of the customer, and they empower their marketing teams to drive this insight into other critical areas of the business.

Why? Because if your product doesn’t address a real need, if your pricing is off, or if you’re not selling your product where customers expect to find it, no amount of clever advertising or PR (read: promotion) is going to save your business.

Take these products, for example. Did New Coke,Volkswagen Phaeton, or Microsoft Zune fail due to lack of promotion?

Nope. They all failed at a much more fundamental level. They all lacked an understanding of their target customer—what they cared about, how they shopped, and/or how much they would be willing to pay.

Owning the Ps starts with empowerment

Maybe your company is one of the enlightened few that’s already embraced this end-to-end vision of marketing. If so, stop reading.

If not, here’s what you can do to drive that sea change. It starts with empowerment.

Empower your marketers to own the insight

Your CMO (and your marketing team) needs to be the buck-stops-here expert on your customer.

This means knowing absolutely who is and isn’t your target audience. This means understanding the consumer landscape, having a rock-solid segmentation model, and corresponding customer personas. This means know why they buy, when they buy, where they buy, and how much they’ll spend. This also means having great supporting customer insights.

Empower your marketers to own the story

Demand that your CMO be the authority on your company’s brand and your product’s positioning.

It can’t end with insight. They’re the chief story-teller in your company, so make sure that they develop and defend your brand. This means defining everything from your highest-level brand promise to messaging frameworks for specific products or services. Make marketing the authority on how you describe your company and your unique place in the market.

Empower your marketers to disseminate the story

Allow marketing-led customer insight and advocacy to flow through all elements of your product development and go-to-market operations.

Don’t forget that your brand is ultimately defined by your customers, and it’s informed by the myriad ways in which they interact with your products and messages. For example, trying to build a high-end brand? Then maybe you shouldn’t sell your product in discount outlets. Want to be known for exceptional customer service? Maybe you shouldn’t measure your CSRs on call throughput.

In the end, your customer experience has to reinforce your story, and your story has to reinforce your customer experience.

We can all debate the number of Ps in the business world, but that’s not the point. What matters is that customer insights drive all elements of the marketing mix—so let’s empower marketers to own or influence the entire mix.

Adam LeVasseur
Adam LeVasseur is a solution principal in the Seattle Customer Engagement practice. Adam is passionate about developing highly cohesive marketing plans that anchor on customer truths backed by bullet-proof data.

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