5 Things That Resonated at Forrester MARKETING 2016

We hope they help you.

The 2016 Forrester MARKETING Forum in New York took place last week, where I had the privilege of listening to (and mingling with) established brands like Toys R Us, Nestlé, H&R Block, MGM Resorts, and Southwest Airlines and emerging companies like Nest and PopSugar—touching on their individual challenges, triumphs and keys to success while navigating the post-digital reality. Below are five takeaways that verify the challenges of today’s market are fundamentally altering CMO responsibilities and the way they impact the c-suite. 

1. Nerd May Be the New Black, but Emotion is Still (Very) Important
Go to almost any marketing conference these days, and you’ll hear terms like “mathlete” and of CMOs learning to code, or that they’re on a “team of geeks.” Data may be sexier than ever, but only 32% of marketers are satisfied with their organization’s level of analytics expertise*; indeed, as a whole, we have chosen patterns over people. Being able to break the qualitative and quantitative boundaries—tying together things like channel preference with context, campaign responses with motivations, and purchase history with attitudes—is becoming more important than ever in order to continue to build emotional connections with consumers. Key Takeaway: Don’t just “know” me, humanize me. 

2. Leverage Small Data for Big Results
Customer preferences, even on the smallest scale, can reap large rewards for brands who are beginning to shed “big data” and sweat the small stuff. Companies like MGM resorts, who are transforming analog experiences into digital ones, are delivering a double digit increase in improved customer experience by installing in-room, advanced touchscreen technology to leverage personalization, time and trigger-based messaging, and contextual reorganization, which allows them to better prioritize and segment their larger marketing programs. Key Takeaway: Innovate small then expand big. The result? Their revenue is now 70% non-gaming and 30% gaming. For a casino company, that’s pretty big.

3. Customers Aren’t Just in Control, They’re Entitled
Brands who are “customer-obsessed,” delivering contextually relevant experiences that add value beyond products or features, are fast becoming the new normal. Those succeeding in the post-digital age are creating frictionless, anticipatory and immersive “moments” with their consumers. Take Under Armour, for example. Its MapMyFitness app and Fitbit integration can kick start your workout by playing a more upbeat song or recommending new routes and challenges to improve your performance. This is much more than a product—it’s a friend. Key Takeaway: If you say you’re obsessed, you must ALWAYS put quality over quantity so stop some of the crap.

4. Move Over Millennials
Sorry Millennials, you’re just kind of, well, old. Say hello to Gen Z, or iGen. Born after 1995, they are the largest segment of the population. Why are they relevant to your brand? Because they are the consumers of the future and their technology acumen is reshaping the way we shop and even the way we view the world. But this isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes referred to as Plurals, iGen are more likely to hold multiple beliefs, have a desire to break through stereotypes and defy ethnic labeling. They prefer more authentic experiences and real people over celebrities. Anna Fieler, EVP of PopSugar, a lifestyle media publisher and online shopping platform for young women, insists that, to hold their 8-second attention span (down from 12 seconds in 2000), brands need to deliver immediacy (give it to me, give it to me now), personalization (make it all about me) and authenticity (speak my language). Key Takeaway: Know which consumer audiences to leverage for insight and innovation and which ones for shorter term results and sales. Love and respect them both.

5. Be a Customer-Obsessed Leader. Here’s How
Talk is cheap, and if the “Age of the Customer” wave is upon us, then we as marketing leaders need to understand what it takes to be an effective one. James McQuivey, VP Analyst at Forrester, insists that there are three things that define successful customer-obsessed leaders: who you are, what you say, and how you act. And more specifically, they do these five things:

  • Measure the metrics that impact the customer
  • Reward those who move the customer forward
  • Unblock obstacles
  • Model their behavior
  • Provide resources in a visible and clear way

Ultimately, consumers, marketers and the industry as a whole are experiencing a digital transformation—call it the Experience Wave, the Age of the Customer or the Post-Digital Age—it all leads back to one thing: people. But that’s nothing new to us. Because at Olson 1to1, we Think Like People™.    

*Sri Sridharan, Forrester