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GE’s Comstock: ‘Our job is to engage and amplify’

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Chicago—Beth Comstock, senior VP-CMO at General Electric Co., discussed how the 130-year-old company is engaging with customers in new ways during an opening keynote speech at the Business Marketing Association’s Engage conference Wednesday.

“Our job is to engage and amplify,” Comstock said. “It’s not enough to just connect anymore. We are all living in a one-to-one world, a one-to-targeted-segment world and a one-to-many world.”

Comstock said one big shift for GE is focusing more on content as a way to engage with customers and prospects. “You have to make sure you have content that leads to engagement and community,” she said. “We are in the content business. More and more, we are needing to create content that our customers can use.”

GE has taken some new directions in content creation, from humorous online videos to data visualization.

“We have developed content in a way that is very relevant in a search world,” Comstock said. “Our content has been optimized for search in a contextually relevant way, so that if anyone is out there searching for news about GE, we want to make sure we pop out.”

She said another big project at GE is aligning marketing and IT to work better together with data.

“We are announcing a marriage of IT and marketing,” Comstock said. She said the partnership, which will be revealed soon, will enable marketing to make more efficient use of data that resides in the organization to implement successful marketing programs.

Comstock also defined a new set of marketing “Ps”—practices, people and processes.

One new practice at GE is a program called “Gold Standard” marketing skills, which defines best-in-class skills it expects its marketers to achieve.

“This is a call to action for all of us as business marketers,” Comstock said. “How do we bring marketers together as an industry to define what ‘gold standard’ means? It has made an impact in our organization.”

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