This post is in the Sense Making category for good reason. I’ve tried before to look at this space – check this LinkedIn post: Marketing Technology Solutions and the Digital Transformation Challenge.
Unlike the article before, this attempt really has me stepping back and trying to form a view without too much influence from outside perspectives. I wanted to plot a landscape or framework as I’ve called it, within which digital, innovation and marketing coincide. I started with a diagram and this one has been iterated several times. I’ll go on to explain some of the main elements in a moment.
First to also just add that I’m doing this as a precursor to my new job at Percolate which I start in August and to serve as a baseline (hence the Version 1 under the heading in the diagram). I expect to be learning a whole bunch of new things and want to go into the new job with an unadulterated view. After a few months, I’ll come back and revisit this to see if it makes sense and may revise it further based on my insights in the interim.
So without further ado, here is a breakdown of some of the main elements of the framework, in brief:
Employees and Customers
These are in my view the two largest constituent stakeholder groups. The only distinction to make as I have is where the two overlap. I’ve specified (in brackets) that these are advocates – a pretty normal label. The point to add perhaps is that on the employee side it’s not just anyone. There is probably some degree of training or professional qualification. In contrast, on the customer side, those that engage probably do so not by virtue of any degree of qualification. At least on the conversation front. Customers that engage in conversation about brands likely do it out of passion.
Conversations and Commerce
I’m not sure these are the only two categories of interaction these two subgroups engage in but they are probably the most important. They’ve even been combined in a hip new trend amongst consumers which I discovered in researching this post I wrote about on chatops. Chris Messina coined the term conversational commerce to describe the way consumers interact not so much with employees but with bots within messaging apps when transacting with services. That is probably an entirely separate train of enquiry.
Suffice it to say that the importance of individuals engaged in meaningful dialogue that ultimately lead to profitable outcomes cannot be overstated. At least in the context of this post. The one thing I would stress it that it does contain the element of (digital) technology that allows for a lot of these interactions both on the conversational level (social media) and commercial levels.
By this, I don’t mean literal translation. The translation I am referring to is between the requirements or needs of the customer and of the services / products the company offers that go to meeting them. For me, this is an essential and critical element of the interaction – one that drives relevance. More on that in the next section. What is worth noting in this section though are the sub-sections.
Now I know that marketing technologies are hugely complex and fragmented in their purpose and function as I wrote about in the first post I shared above. Again I’m taking a stab below at what I think are the most important. The separation between employee and customer segments are not as clear cut as the diagram would suggest – there is much more overlap.
Content: Here I’m focusing on the creation side of things. Good content marketing, storytelling and collaborative authoring tech and processes that allow multiple people to contribute based on their passion and knowledge. This would also probably include or incorporate user-generated content.
Channels: Obviously once you have the content you need to get it to customers in the right format and channel and that of course increasingly means mobile. But that’s not the only channel and the key thing is to make the contact impactful dependent on context.
Storage/Workflow: This is where assets are kept and who has access to them (permissions) is determined. This is also where processes are embedded in workflow and some of these workflows will touch the customer. In other words, the customer will be exposed to some of these workflows or processes and may even be an active participant, for example with user generated content.
Demand/Sentiment: This is probably one of the most important because it touches on the measurement of marketing impact and effectiveness. It has to do with accountability. It covers data gathering, reporting and analysis. Demand would cover things like lead generation and capture and sentiment things like net promoter scores if that is something your organisation subscribes to.
One element I haven’t included is AI and automation because it probably encompasses all of the sub-sections above. It early days yet but I can see this kind of tech taking greater and greater prominence.
Innovation and Marketing
This is the one area where I will perhaps borrow from outside perspectives and I’ll “stand on the shoulder of giants” to do so.
In the first instance, I would refer to Peter Drucker, the grandfather of modern marketing. He also intertwined it with innovation and I fundamentally agree with this. More fully, Drucker said, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Drucker’s other fundamental view (see image) also ties in nicely with that of another key thinker on innovation and that is Clayton Christensen who gave us the “jobs to be done” paradigm. The jobs to be done framework emerged as a helpful way to look at customer motivations in business settings within the context of his disruptive innovation theories. I thought it was a perfect, classical context in which to frame modern day activities.
As you can see from the diagram, the two opposite ends of the spectrum left and right are effectively inputs to the translation engine and are the main elements covered in the jobs to be done paradigm.
Assuming you have done all of the above well, this should give rise to the total sum of experiences that go to make the brand up. I don’t intend to explain what a brand is. Suffice it to say that I still see it playing a dominant and all-encompassing role for marketing efforts. Especially in an increasingly fragmented digital landscape it can serve as a beacon that guides employees and customers alike.
So that’s my view of this space for starters. It combines state of the art technology and practice with time-tested, classical marketing and innovation theory. I wanted to anchor the new in what I thought was still fundamental and unchanged. I’ll revisit this in time. Anyone adding a different perspective, filling in any gaps or making any corrections would be most welcome – please add a comment.