Connecting 101: Have a purpose
Every marketer knows that there's an art to connecting with
consumers. There's a science to it, too, driven by research and
data, which rightfully is commanding more and more of our budgets
and time. But you'll never fulfill your marketing goals by focusing
on just one or the other, Marks says. Instead, focus on your
company's purpose, and the rest will follow. "The critical part to
a balance is to remember that we are ultimately serving people," he
says. "People respond to purpose, whether or not that's B2B or B2C
or our associates."
With your team: Lead with a roadmap
Having a purpose serves a brand well, and it certainly doesn't
hurt to have a purpose when you're approaching your executives with
a proposal to fundamentally change your marketing department.
Something else that helps? A roadmap. When Marks arrived at Hancock
and Whitney in 2015, he sought to drive the acquisition of a new
marketing automation platform. While the company's other executives
were open to taking a new approach, Marks and his team had to build
their case for change. "We had to prove it, so there were
incremental steps," he says. "You can't start with perfection, so
start with a piece and work [on it] over time, based on a vision
and a roadmap."
This is where the science of marketing -- and the power of data
-- becomes important in connecting with your executives. "If you're
embarking on a marketing transformation and you don't have 100%
buy-in, that's a good place to start with the credibility of the
metrics," Marks says. Six months of slowly building empirical
evidence for the new platform, and a campaign was up and running.
Marks's persistence paid off: thanks to this new set of tools, his
marketing team's productivity per dollar spent increased by double
digits during 2015.
With customers: Be credible
Now for the hard part: the internet. When a consumer comes in
contact with a brand, especially via search, he or she is looking
for concrete, credible information about that company. This is an
opportunity to connect meaningfully. While the story the brand
tells itself might satisfy some of their questions, the story its
customers tell is even more valuable. "The story is more and more
told by the client, so you have to harness that and equip them with
social," Marks says. "The power of social media amplifies the good
and the bad stuff."
In an era where online credibility is constantly in question,
it's important that your story and your service are airtight. "The
story has to be an authentic value proposition, because it's never
a good idea to try to fool consumers," Marks says. "I think the
whole issue of credibility is really interesting right now. How do
you know what's credible online or in the real world? It's going to
be interesting to see how that plays out."
With peers: Listen
Like his fellow CMOs, Marks is always learning, and encourages
his colleagues to do the same. "We don't just compare ourselves to
other banks or other financial service providers. We look at what's
happening with people in other categories," he says. "There's a few
examples of where that thinking has led to unexpected insights that
have paid off from a business perspective." For a healthy exchange
of ideas, Marks recommends reading, networking and spending time
with groups like The CMO Club. "Talking to other marketers, reading
what's going on, that innate sense of curiosity. What's happening
in other industries, and how can we be inspired by that?" he says.
"What can we learn about how other people are connecting?"