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  • November 18, 2014 | By: Damon Ragusa

    The Evolution of the Modern Marketer to Smarter, Faster Decisions


    Copyright 2014 ThinkVine. All Rights Reserved.


    We live in a highly connected world where realtime access to news, data, and information has transformed the way both people and businesses make decisions. More and more businesses are adopting technology to harness both the amazing amount of data available as well as to automate the execution of processes previously done manually. Marketing is no exception to this. With real-time bidding systems, ad exchanges, and big data projects, just to name a few, the focus of the marketers job is blurring with that of the CIO. With all this data, the risks remain high in what Eric Schmidt, then CEO at Google, termed the last bastion of unaccountable spending. And, the biggest risk is maintaining a focus on the consumer, while developing habits and adopting the appropriate technology to keep pace with a fast changing marketplace.

    Reducing Risk is Key

    Planning is all about reducing risks. Traditionally, marketers plan annually, aligned with the cycle of TV and print media buying. The planning timeframe would typically address only the following year. The key stakeholders form an executive committee where the marketer makes recommendations based on insights and analytics of historical spend data and aggregations of consumer data, which becomes foundational to the plan. In a stable marketplace, this backwardlooking approach has been an acceptable method because of the assumption that the future will be much the same as the past. In todays rapidly changing marketplace, it is becoming increasingly dicult for marketers to continue to eliminate risks through traditional planning methods for four critical reasons:

    The proliferation of consumer devices

    and emerging media channels has dramatically increased the number of options marketers have for investments. With digital media now embedded in every aspect of the customer journey, marketers must understand the impact of these emerging trends on consumer purchase behavior, alongside traditional marketing channels.

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  • The barriers for people to switch from one media to another and adopt new technologies are disappearing. People are no longer consuming information in a vacuum but across channels and, often times, simultaneously; they have more CHOICE and VOICE than ever. This increasing power of the consumer, coupled with the screaming pace of technology, makes it more critical than ever for marketers to understand and align their marketing spend with their consumer segments.

    The marketer has become inundated with the explosion of rich, but complex data

    sources. From a world where only GRPs mattered, marketers are now overwhelmed with impressions, mentions, likes, clicks, etc. As a result, much of the focus in planning has turned to data collection, processing, and cleansing issues rather than focusing on the core planning issue how to target, reach, connect, and influence consumers to take action.

    Marketing planning committees are becoming overcrowded with stakeholders, each

    working in their own silos, and each acting as an advocate for the tactic they represent. Within a company, there is a growing number of functional team members covering a variety of roles all connected to the overall marketing plan such as price, promotion, digital, brand, distribution, etc.

    Additionally, companies are working with more agencies than ever that play a key role during the planning process. Because of this, much of the discussion around the future of planning revolves around the relationship between the agency and the marketer, which, again, is losing sight of the core questions marketers need to address.

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  • Answer The Right Questions

    The byproduct of these four intersecting trends is that it is significantly more dicult for marketers to process competing pressures and answer the foundational questions of a successful marketing plan. The big questions marketers want answers to is how to understand, target, reach, and measure their relationship with customers in such a volatile and data-driven marketplace. More specifically, they want to know: where to spend, how much to spend, and when to spend in order to hit the right people at the right times with the right message to drive engagement and purchase probability of a product or service. And, they can no longer operate on an annual planning cycle; marketers need the flexibility to plan often and the speed to gain valuable insights faster to adapt to market changes.

    To navigate this ever-increasing complexity, marketers must shift the focus from data -intensive tactical planning to a smart data approach for strategic planning that is centered around real people they are

    targeting. And, to keep with the rate of change, they must rely more on technology that breaks down the barriers to a more ecient, agile, and objective planning process. As a result, planning will be more focused on linking the brand directly with consumers to positively impact sales, market share, and financial performance in a transparent and measurable way.

    Many of the insights, analytics, and processes used to inform marketers today are based on aggregations of consumer data, boiling all the diverse demographics, media consumption, and behaviors into one average consumer. This makes it impossible to connect the very people they target to specific marketing activities and messages. For example, marketers have relied on classical marketing mix models for decades to provide insights on marketing eectiveness. These models have never provided insight as to how dierent marketing plans can activate dierent people, especially new media with no historical data. This is because the basis of the plan is to analyze the marketing eectiveness in the past marketplace rather than what the marketplace moving forward will look like.

    What makes marketing work is that dierent people use media to varying degrees and to carry out very dierent day-to-day activities. The planning process must be able to synthesize the audience estimates commonly used to make media buying decisions (GRPs, AQHs, circulation)

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  • with emerging digital measurements (CTR, Impressions, mentions, likes, conversions, etc.), and reconcile all these against measures of how people behave.

    A consumer-centric approach to marketing is a more data-agnostic way to measuring and forecasting the ROI across channels, tactics, and consumers to make more informed marketing decisions. It ensures that when making key marketing decisions on how and when to spend marketing dollars, it will have the greatest possibility of positively impacting performance.

    Rather than aggregating all of the data together for analysis, a consumer-centric approach to planning starts from the bottom-

    up. To be eective in an evolving marketplace, marketers must take an objective and detailed view of the demographic make-up of their consumer targets, the behavioral traits related to media consumption, and the way in which demographics are correlated to media consumption. For example, older people are more likely to watch more TV and read more magazines, and younger people are more likely to use mobile phones and social media. Once this foundation is laid, standard marketing science rules around purchase probabilities become more practical because its not just about how people consume media but how they respond to marketing and purchase products or services.

    Take a Consumer Driven Approach

    With increased C-suite pressure for accountability, marketers across industries are already adopting a consumer-driven approach to planning as a more sustainable and eective method. A market leading pharmaceutical company was looking to optimize its direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing plan for the launch of its new product, while maintaining constant flexibility to implement postlaunch adjustments in real-time. Because of strict FDA regulations around approved consumer targets and no historical data existed, the company turned to a consumercentric approach to plan and optimize its go-to market plan. Leading up to the launch, the company was able to simulate patient responses in varying targets and geographical markets to measure how each tactic influences patient adoption and purchase behavior in order to accurately reflect and improve the ROI of its plan. The product leadership team leveraged the results to better forecast ROI by marketing tactic and consumer group. It also was able to incorporate external influences such as healthcare professionals and doctors and how these would influence short and long-term product sales volume.

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  • A large provider of automotive products wanted to forecast and measure all its marketing activities against its consumer segments for the greatest return on investment. Additionally, the company was focused on growing sales within the Hispanic population and wanted to understand how to allocate spend to optimize results within this segment. But, not all of its marketing activities could be tracked back to specific consumer demographics. By adopting a consumer-centric planning model that focused less on collecting massive amounts of data and more on identify