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Are marketing processes getting leaner?

Are marketing processes getting leaner?

Marketers today often find themselves justifying the ROI for every dollar spent on marketing and if ROI is positive, the job is perceived as well done. But what does it take to bring ROI to the level it should be?

The changing digital and media landscape warrants that marketers truly understand the media consumption patterns and the complete journey of their customers. There is a pressure to know more and to do more, but with lesser or tighter budgets.

It is therefore important that marketers are agile about viewing each campaign and marketing activity as a solid step towards customer acquisition and customer satisfaction. While technology brings with itself a promise to create more efficiency across the board, what are the practical challenges marketers face when making their marketing processes lean?

To answer this question and more, Marketing organised a luncheon with senior marketing decision-makers who shared tips and views on how marketing processes could be “lean” and drive customer experience and cost-effectiveness at the same time. While the concept of lean marketing is nothing new or different from other lean initiatives that businesses have seen since the 1980s, it carries a huge implication for marketers, said Canon’s Alok Bharadwaj who believes that marketing now requires a whole new outlook with real-time engagement at the heart of all initiatives.

For Vivek Kumar, director and executive leader of the National Trades Union Congress, lean marketing is about getting sharp about what brands are trying to achieve. It is therefore important for brands to identify customers that drive the bulk of their sales, understand their journey and engage them deeper. Other guests at the round table agreed to the point, adding that technology, while being a great enabler, should not undermine the human touch.

Andrew Cefai, senior director of regional marketing for APAC at Hilton International Singapore, said it was important that marketers did not switch off their judgment – based on experience and business knowledge – as a result of relying too much on technology. “It is important that direction is set from the top, that there is the expectation that you would test something to the point of failure,” he said. “Failure is expected, failure is considered essential within defi ned perimeters of course. If you don’t set that direction there is a real danger that you will go overboard with optimisation, and as a result, the audience you are going after will shrink more and more.”

Mark Fong, senior vice-president and head of branding and strategic marketing at City Developments, said technology was just a tool in the tool box. The overpromise of technology is one of the reasons for bloated marketing, as opposed to “fat-free marketing”, which is his defi nition of lean marketing. “I believe that in every industry, their pipeline is different. So, what we need to do is get to the point in how you can get the maximum impact with minimum means,” he said.

“So fat-free marketing is where you question every media selection, every channel. You have got to be aware of the 360 of the world, but you don’t have to focus on all of them. You need to find two or three channels that gives the greatest impact and I think that is the approach to making the marketing function as efficient as possible.”

Donna Canestra, head of marketing communications and knowledge management at Marsh Singapore, added that in her company marketing was expected to look at the funnel daily and results were measured in terms of conversion.

“All of our campaigns are much focused. Our strategy towards our clients has become a lot more targeted so at the moment we’re running more targeted value proposition campaigns – it’s all about the customer experience now.”

Data and personalisation

A large part of the conversation over lunch centred on data and personalisation issues where guests discussed their challenges of combining data that currently sits in silos within organisations. While there was complete agreement that combining all sources of data was critical to attaining that single view of the customer, Swatantra Kumar, enterprise account manager at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, said a common challenge brands faced was to truly understand the customer journey across channels – online as well as offline.

“The customer doesn’t care what the interaction is, they want to have an integrated experience with marketing content relevant to them. Companies need to catch up and look to any touch point being delivered in a highly consistent way that meets the customer where they are in their relationship with your brand,” he said.

Olivia Reeves, account executive at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, added that data and its usefulness was not just a marketing conversation today. Across businesses there is growing awareness of how to manage and analyse data to bring a seamless experience to customers.

“It is imperative for marketers to understand what is happening on the sales as well as the customer service side to be able to target the audience smartly. Customers today expect that brands should know exactly where they are and what they want,” she said.

NTUC’s Kumar mentioned how they use Salesforce to overlay social data over traditional CRM data to get a full view of the customer, but also added that with the PDPA kicking in, marketers have to be cautious in their approach to data. “The tightening privacy laws across all markets, has forced marketers to move out of the ivory tower and to interact with customers at the point of sales. The tough thing about data is to get those at the front desk to loop back data because they are strapped for time. As marketers, we need to pick those cues,” he said.

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