The Association of National Advertisers hosts an annual gathering of marketing thought leaders, epically called “Masters of Marketing Week.” This year the stage was set in Orlando, and Yamamoto sent our own team of masters to join the conversation and learn what is coming next in the world of advertising and sales. One of the most compelling topics involved reviewing the rules.
RULES FOR THE FUTURE OF MARKETING
As for what’s next, everyone agrees: change. Between technological opportunity and competitive crises, the way forward for meaningful conversation between marketer and audience is primed for upheaval. As Joseph Jaffe, CEO of Evol8tion, said in his talk Built to Suck, “The future will come from the slime, not the heavens.”
Throughout the week, our team jumped in the ring to learn all they could about how, when and why change was coming, and where it will lead us. Here’s what they found:
RULE #1: IF YOU STOP, YOU DIE.
Marketing is, by its nature, in perpetual upheaval, where new expectations, opportunities and dangers emerge. That was the insight reflected upon by Tony Weisman, CMO of Dunkin’, in his talk The Power of Love. Weisman described the organizational (and philosophical) changes that have dawned for Dunkin’ in the wake of their move from a blue-collar food focus to a contemporary, beverage-driven brand that embraces donut-flavored lip gloss, a custom nail polish line, and prom at Fenway Park.
Tony Weisman shed some light on the key ideas that fed the Dunkin’ brand during its evolution:
- Stay true to who you are.
- Be a good listener.
- Eliminate friction.
- Don’t let yourself go.
- Keep it interesting.
- Little gestures go a long way.
- Don’t be afraid of intimacy.
The Dunkin’ story is a recurring one: brands that emerge as important and influential work hard to remain current. To stop evolving is to stand still. To stand still is to die. But not every evolution comes in the form of a complete overhaul. Jill Estorino, EVP, Global Marketing and Sales for Disney Parks, described how one of the world’s most ironclad brands can be flexible in how they embrace change. In one example, she described how visitors can now register as “rebels” in the park’s app. Doing so will put you at risk for a personal, impromptu Storm Trooper interrogation. Disney is a brand that “has everything,” but they are using IP and data to make the brand experience consistent yet personal. There’s some real magic!
RULE #2: SEE THE WHOLE BOARD: MACROTRENDS.
Trends are always part of the marketing meta-conversation – how can you identify, preempt and harness their impact on your business? Ford’s lead futurist (you read that right) Sheryl Connelly would challenge us to think bigger, however, and look to the macrotrends that will shape the fundamental concepts of communication in the coming decades.
A merely competent brand might react to a trend like “millennials are buying fewer cars,” but Connelly would equate this to reacting to a single move in a chess game. Brands that want to ascend beyond reaction and survival need to account for multiple macrotrends—things like automation, urbanization, aging and the dependency ratio, climate change and connectivity—and embrace the opportunities they offer for their business.
Understanding macrotrends like the multitasking myth gives marketers the edge in better predicting and adapting to consumer behavior. Other macrotrends, like the collective demotivation of modern workforces, can inform even how the marketing industry itself works. And If you find paralysis setting in as you think about these trends, consider this sage advice from Ms. Connelly: “It is better to be generally right than precisely wrong.”
RULE #3: EMOTION RULES ALL.
Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. Great brands have always been about establishing an emotional connection. Today, the notion of “the power of emotion” has morphed from axiom to dogma.
Andrea Brimmer, Chief Marketing and Public Relations Officer for Ally posed the question to the audience that her organization poses to themselves perpetually: “If we went away, would anybody miss us?” Brimmer described how Ally’s Banksgiving campaign and their Payback Time initiative were aimed at trying to answer that question with a yes. To be missed, people first have to know you exist. Then, they have to care you exist. The brands that stick around learn that early.
At ANA, the world’s most respected marketers—one after the other, from CPG to retail to insurance to food to technology to automotive—stressed the critical importance of emotion.
In the age of massive data and analytics, it’s easy to let “the facts” overcome all else in our planning and creative development. But here’s the thing: when everyone has massive data, it’s not a differentiator. And the fact is, we make emotional choices first and rational decisions second (it’s science, you can look it up).
How you connect with your customers emotionally makes you memorable. So find the connection, and whatever you do, don’t be forgettable.
CONCLUSION: THEN IS NOW.
If the rallying cry of Masters of Marketing Week 2019 was “change is coming,” then the call-to-arms for marketers should be “prepare for it today.” As Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer of Chipotle put it, “There are only two days where you can’t accomplish anything: yesterday and tomorrow, so do what you can today.”
Don’t just react to new opportunities—create them. And don’t get stuck in a culture of catch-up when it comes to understanding consumer behavior. An awareness and intimate understanding of the forces at play at a human level allows us all to have a better shot at lasting relevance. The right time to get ready is right now.