Who Should Run for President? Effective Marketers Who Get Results!

As a marketer, how do you know that your work has made a difference in the world? It’s not whether you made an audience laugh, cry or remember the words to your jingle. It’s not because your brand name can evoke a Pavlovian response to make a purchase. For me, the most impressive result is when a smart strategy and innovative creative solution have a major impact on solving a business problem. I’m proud to report that this year’s ECHO entries were no exception.

As a marketer, how do you know that your work has made a difference in the world? It’s not whether you made an audience laugh, cry or remember the words to your jingle. It’s not because your brand name can evoke a Pavlovian response to make a purchase. While these are certainly all impressive outcomes, for me the most impressive result is when a smart strategy and innovative creative solution have a major impact on solving a business problem. And I’m proud to report that this year’s ECHO entries were no exception.

The ECHO Awards, represented by a new and beautifully designed glistening crystal statue, were handed out at a gala celebration on Monday night, complete with live band and TV-personality/stand-up comedian. But the highlight of the evening were those entries that truly impacted change – whether by driving a politician to introduce groundbreaking legislation or by disrupting an entrenched competitor. From campaigns for a little known travel destination in India to a clever recruiting campaign that sought to identify future code breakers for The U.S. Navy, the 2015 ECHO Awards were a testament to the brilliance of marketers who have honed their craft.

Even though I was honored to be this years’ ECHO Judging Chair, I was too busy administratively during the judging process to spend any time actually reading or judging entries this year. But when the dust finally settled and I was able to review all the finalist entries and partake in the discussion around who should be the Diamond Winner, I was astounded at how many times I marveled “I wish I’d thought of that!”

The judges, recruited from across the globe, were a tough bunch. While they included agency strategists, art directors, copywriters, account planners, project managers and client-side marketing pros, not one was unimpressed with the breadth and depth of the campaigns they reviewed. I saw many partake in lively discussions around the merits of an entry – and wished I could be part of that debate process.

In the end, those that were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze statues on Monday night, should know that they are among an elite few. From nearly 1,000 entries, their work stood above the rest. Their work helped a client meet a financial goal… Or improved the lives of those less fortunate… Or helped drive revenue… Or helped drive sales. Most importantly, every campaign was thoughtful, innovative, and delivered on their promise to meet the stated measurable objectives. That’s no mean feat.

And that’s certainly more than I can say for most politicians.

 

A Toast to Brand Effervescence!

While Shakespeare said it first, it is easily the lived mantra at omnichannel retailer Boston Proper: “Boldness be my friend.” I recently shared a glass of celebratory bubbly with two smart leaders at Boston Proper—Sheryl Clark, president, and Margaret Moraskie, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce—after being wowed by my first visit to their new boutique in Boca Raton, Florida.

While Shakespeare said it first, it is easily the lived mantra at omnichannel retailer Boston Proper: “Boldness be my friend.” I recently shared a glass of celebratory bubbly with two smart leaders at Boston Proper—Sheryl Clark, president, and Margaret Moraskie, senior vice president of marketing and e-commerce—after being wowed by my first visit to their new boutique in Boca Raton, Florida.

Having had the honor of working with this brilliant team in the past, I was thrilled to literally walk into their newly reenergized brand experience and see this brand burst into an even bolder stance from their already well-designed and lust-worthy “take me on vacation” Web and catalog pages.

Apparently, so, too, were all their other brand fans. “We had customers standing in line for over two hours for our grand opening. It was a party before the doors even opened!” Clark said. “Our models were mingling with our customers while many of our employees greeted our loyal fans as well. It was wonderful to see the passion our customers feel for us.”

Many words came to mind as I first saw their new rose gold starburst signage upon entering the feminine boutique, whiffed the lovely (and proprietary) scent, then made a beeline to all the “must have” color coordinated outfits and finally stepped into the armoire-accented dressing room with attentive stylists standing by like girlfriends ready to “ooh and ah” and accessorize! A+ words like: audacious, all things feminine, amazing. But one word captured my entire experience: sparkle.

Boston Proper is a brand that sparkles. From the leaders who wear the clothes “like no one else” in and out of the office, to the designers who create the clothes with always the proper embellishments, to the photographers whose shoots transport their customers to exotic destinations where they imagine themselves in those clothes, to the stylists who only want to help make their customers shine with just the right outfit—the internal team of Boston Proper brand ambassadors infuse sparkle in all they do. Their brand effervescence is a competitive differentiator. It’s worth toasting!

I know Clark speaks on behalf of her entire team when she says, “There is nothing more exciting than the journey we are on. To meet our existing customers, deliver them a revolutionary boutique experience and welcome new customers to the brand has been truly unforgettable. We are having fun every day, making the Boston Proper experience, in every channel truly unforgettable—one customer at a time.”

Does your brand sparkle? What are you doing that deserves a toast? Is boldness your friend? What brand barriers might be holding you back? Why not spend some time thinking about ways to add a little bubbly to your brand experience?

Attribution and the ‘Mail Moment’ in the Multichannel Mix

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the Direct Marketing Club of New York hosted an engaging panel discussion regarding the use of direct mail in a multichannel world, and the panelists included representatives from Citigroup, Gerber Life and The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks. … Hearing from two financial service brands, and an agency that services brands in several markets, packed the house. I’m not sure if it was the topic or the brands who spoke, or both, that was the draw—but the information imparted prompted lots of audience interest and questions.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the Direct Marketing Club of New York (DMCNY) hosted an engaging panel discussion regarding the use of direct mail in a multichannel world, and the panelists included representatives from Citigroup, Gerber Life and The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.

The representatives included Linda Gharib, senior vice president, digital marketing, for Citi’s Global Consumer Marketing & Internet division; David Rosenbluth, vice president, marketing, Gerber Life Insurance Company; and, from the agency side, panel moderator Pam Haas, who is both vice president, sales, for agency services at Harte-Hanks (and first vice president for DMCNY), and Michele Fitzpatrick, senior vice president, strategy and insight, The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.

Hearing from two financial service brands, and an agency that services brands in several markets (tech, consumer package goods, automotive, insurance, pharma and more), packed the house. I’m not sure if it was the topic or the brands who spoke, or both, that was the draw—but the information imparted prompted lots of audience interest and questions.

First, customer acquisition—at least in the financial services area—still appears to be very dependent on mail. At Gerber, Rosenbluth said, as many as a third of new business policies are still generated by direct mail, even as the brand is “omni-channel”—digital (including web site, search, display ads, email), direct-response television, as well as direct mail. For Citi, the brand is positioned No. 2 in the nation by Target Marketing in its “Top 50 Mailers” ranking for 2012 (which is ranked by overall revenue, not mail volume), Gharib said, solidifying its importance in both acquisition and retention.

Fitzpatrick agreed, noting that in financial services, where marketing is modeled most precisely for risk and performance, direct mail remains an acquisition workhorse, particularly on new product launches. For automotive and pharma verticals, however, where as much as 80 percent of transactions are researched anonymously beforehand online, digital media is used for hand-raising, and direct mail may be then used to deliver a brochure of other information in a highly segmented way to close the deal. “Consumer preferences [for media] are situational,” Fitzpatrick said.

Who gets credit for attribution, when a multichannel communications mix produces a desired response? At Citi, Gharib said, such discussions are a “work in progress,” where the final interaction point currently gets the credit, whether that is chat, direct mail, email or some triggered communication. Adding to the multichannel attribution discussion is the mix of advertising purposes—some are pure branding messages, while others are intended to elicit a response, but both may compel or influence customer behavior in some discernible (or indiscernible) manner. Hence, there is complexity in the attribution discussion.

Yes, indeed, says Rosenbluth, where “allowances” are given for each channel in regard to the brand’s most importance metric to manage: total costs to convert a policy. Currently, “last touch” gets the attribution on response, but the policy conversion metric is the bigger-picture measurement, where everyone gets to take some credit.

Fitzpatrick pointed to recent Forrester research where “fractional attribution”—first touch, mid-touch and last-touch on the path to purchase share credit—and “engagement” is modeled, rather than response (alone). Every brand should undertake a channel impact study to determine, as best it can, the impact of incremental sales as a result of a multichannel customer experience, while also researching receiver reaction research. Clearly, direct mail, email, chat and other channels can be both or either “conversation starters” and “conversation extenders,” but analytics is the only way to know the role of the channel for any given customer.

“There’s credibility in paper,” Gharib remarked, “that helps with both the brand and its consideration.” Where email is cluttered, direct mail largely is not.

At Gerber, Rosenbluth, there really is no brand spend, all market spending is intended to produce engagement.

Fitzpatrick sees almost all “below the line” spending getting a branding blend—branding and direct marketing have come together. All the panelists agreed: it’s really about the consumer experience across channels, and having a database that enables customer recognition and a full customer view. Having tons of data is not enough—it’s having technology and processes in place for customer data integration and analytics to create smart engagement rules.

The verdict? Direct mail is and will remain a vital part of the media mix—because it’s an anchor in the consumer’s experience and brand consideration mix. As digital gets more clutter, boy that mailbox is looking pretty.