C-suite predictions: McDonald’s, Citibank and more on how marketing will change in 2015

The predictions and interviews with C-suite leaders in this article are excerpts from Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Power 25, which features conversations with a group of 25 intelligent and innovative individuals. They’re all marketing leaders, but they’re not all marketers. CEOs and CIOs are as well placed as CMOs in predicting what 2015 has in store for connecting with customers. The Salesforce Marketing Cloud Power 25 includes CMOs, chief digital officers, CEOs, MDs and other marketing leaders from across Asia Pacific.

The participants were asked for their thoughts on the changing marketing landscape. Here’s what some of them said…

 

Linda Duncombe, managing director of marketing, digital and customer experience, Citibank

Top prediction: In 2015, businesses will need to prioritise and focus on how to add genuine value to their customers’ lives.

From the book: When Duncombe joined Citi, in the newly established role, which brought together marketing, digital and customer experience for the first time, she set about trying to identify the ways the brand could create genuine connections with consumers. “You need to find the unique things that matter to customers, the things that customers will tell you have changed their lives – you’d be surprised what these things can be,” says Duncombe.

“Marketers really need to explore how they can add value to consumers’ lives. Whether that is by creating moments or providing things to help take away stress.”

Duncombe believes the biggest opportunities for marketers lie in understanding how brands can impact the end-to-end consumer journeys and by focusing on doing one thing really well. “Don’t try to be all things to all people, know what you are good at and go for it,” says Duncombe.

 

Mark Lollback, chief marketing officer, McDonald’s Australia and New Zealand

Top prediction: In 2015, businesses will increasingly look to marketing for thought leadership.

From the bookLollback believes the biggest challenge for marketers is not to get caught up in the channels and to focus on improving the consumer journey with your brand. “In this time of complexity, fragmentation and change, the challenge is to stay really grounded on where we can add the most value. It’s very easy to get caught up in change with digital or social media, but fundamentally they are just channels.”

Lollback believes there are huge opportunities for marketers as businesses increasing look to marketing for guidance and thought leadership.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time like this and I think we’re going to see companies looking at marketing for thought leadership. For me the opportunities are all around thought leadership, innovation and deployment of the right strategy in a very disruptive way – that’s what companies are looking for and it’s not going to come from an accountant or from a strategy teams, it’s going to come from people who are passionate about business and growing companies. It’s going to come from marketing.”

 

Louise Baxter, CEO, The Starlight Children’s Foundation 

Top prediction: In 2015, as technology continues to infiltrate businesses and social channels increase,organisations will need to focus on internal communications in order to be truly innovative.

From the book: At its core, Baxter doesn’t believe marketing has changed. “It’s still about understanding the consumer and finding that insight that can differentiate you and allow you to develop a product or program to meet a specific need. That has never changed.

“The thing that has changed is the delivery and the fragmentation of the many channels we can use to deliver that message. I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. I see that as something to be embraced, and that’s what we are doing at Starlight.”

Baxter believes this focus on internal communications – and of course the people within your organisation – is fundamental to the success of your business.

“You have to have your team aligned to your vision and the end point on your journey so everyone is crystal clear about where they are going and how they are going to get there.” Once people are aligned you create an environment of trust and that’s when you can drive people to experiment, and that, says Baxter, is how you become a truly innovative organisation.

 

Simon Maizels, chief information officer, Harris Farm 

Top prediction: In 2015, organisations will need to use data analytics to engage in extremely targeted conversations with customers.

From the book: Simon Maizels is responsible for business innovation across Harris Farm, a role that includes in-store and online customer engagement, digital technology, marketing platforms, and designing the store of the future. Clearly his role has evolved well beyond his job title.

“The opportunity is finding more granular ways to start very targeted conversations with people, you do this by being led by them and what they want to talk about. This is where you can apply analytics to great effect, and segment your audience to ensure you are talking to the right people about the right things.”

Maizels and his team are focused on building relationships with consumers through their passions for food and value – and data analytics is crucial to this. “You don’t want to start talking about a new beef product with a vegetarian,” says Maizels. “Finding those relevant audiences is hugely important as is connecting that audience with relevant information. Then you have to keep the conversation going, ensure you are getting return on investment, and spending your marketing budget in the right place – that is the challenge.

“I believe if you focus on value, if you engage people with passion and you are able to quantify and show how your marketing investment is working and paying off – well that’s the key.”

 

Kate Whitney, global digital director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers 

Top prediction: The role of the traditional CMO or marketing director is over, marketers need to have an integrated view of the customer and be a digital expert.

From the book: Whitney believes that, “the role of the traditional CMO or marketing director is over. It’s simply not about approving TV scripts or hanging out at the advertising agency anymore. Marketers today have to have an integrated view of the customer. You don’t need to be a tech genius to market well, but you have to be a digital expert.”

“I think the biggest challenge marketers face today is the fragmentation of customer journey touch points. There’s so much noise out there now and the challenge for marketers is to be relevant and to touch a customer at the right place, right time and with the right message,” she says.

Perhaps because of her respect for data, Whitney is sceptical of the industry’s “obsession” with data, which she says is creating a deluge of communications that consumers are drowning in.

“You have to remember that the customer is a human being, and they cannot absorb all the messages for all the brands – even for the brands that they love.

“The real opportunity for marketers is to be the experts. To disseminate the data to find the right audiences and the right messages and take your communications to the next level. Marketing departments need to be the brains trust of where to find customers. It’s down to marketing departments to pull together exceptional strategies to find customers and create targeted messages to engage them.”

 

Salesforce.com’s CXO Powerbook is available online here (data wall).