‘It’s time for marketers to leverage the creative toolbox’
In Australia last month for the Salesforce World Tour in Melbourne, Jeffrey Rohrs, VP of marketing insights at Salesforce, spoke to Marketing about his thoughts on the state of the industry. Two years after the release of his book, Audience, which advises marketers on how to leverage promotion through social media, now Rohrs is focused on using the marketers’ ‘creative toolbox’ to ‘make moments matter’. As he explains in this interview, alongside social media in this toolbox is cloud technology, mobile devices and connected devices (i.e. the Internet of Things). Salesforce has just released its Predictive Decisions tool, which helps marketers harness the power of data science to deliver personalised journeys. It’s opportunities like this that get Rohrs really excited about the future for marketers.
Marketing: Can we start off by covering what you’ve been talking about this morning at the Salesforce World Tour event?
Jeffrey Rohrs: What I spoke about this morning is ‘making moments matter’. We’re very big on the customer journey. With our journey mapping products you can build these individualised journeys with a lot of automation based on behaviours or demographics or activity, so that you’re getting personalised messaging in different channels that does the things that ultimately the consumer wants but that are mutually beneficial for the marketer.
One of the things I recognise in talking to marketers is that thinking about journeys can be pretty overwhelming at times. If you think about what comprises the journeys these days, it’s these bundles of moments. We used to put them in a funnel, we used to think about them strictly in a linear fashion – you come in and then you have awareness of the brand, and then you consider the brand and then you buy, and then you retain that individual and they become an advocate. That still happens in many businesses; there are still linear journeys.
But there are also so many non-linear journeys that are all over the place, and having written my book on audience, one of the epiphanies I had was there was this disconnect between the brand advertising side, which is thinking creatively and emotionally about the brand; with the digital direct folks, because they’re very optimisation and metrics based. So the epiphany I had was this team over here on brand isn’t thinking about the full creative toolset, and the full creative toolset now is not just your creative right brain. It is also mobile and cloud and social and data science.
I usually think of the cloud in terms of connected devices. Cisco says we’ll have 50 billion connected devices by 2020. That’s huge. If you’re a brand marketer, you’re thinking, ‘How do I use that to get the word out about my product?’. But if you’re thinking holistically as a marketer, you’re thinking also, ‘How do I serve and create moments that matter and engage that consumer?’ Because that creates social amplification opportunities. So that’s the cloud piece. Mobile piece: 4.5 billion cell phones, 1.75 of them are smartphones, and that number’s going to double in the next couple of years. That’s a tremendous opportunity.
M: That’s worldwide? And it’s doubling because of the developing world?
JR: That’s worldwide. Because of the developing world but also because of the traditional dumb phone – I think we’ve hit like 70% penetration of smartphones by some estimations. It might even be higher here in Australia. So if I’m in the brand side and I’m not thinking about how do people engage with these mobile devices, I’m missing opportunities. This makes all marketing direct: I see a billboard, I could ask people to respond. I’m watching television – who doesn’t watch television with their smartphone close by if they have one? So the new ideas are around connected devices, mobile devices, and the social piece, which is to say your audience has audiences. That’s one of the core concepts in my book. You’re speaking to the audience audience audience – it’s the echo effect – amplification happens.
M: So it’s about trying to create content that can be shared?
JR: Exactly. How do I do this to create that mutually beneficial way telling of the story? Because people share because it gives them something intrinsically, right? They don’t share to benefit your brand, they share because it’s either saying something about themselves or there is some sort of altruistic benefit that comes back, helping another person. So you’ve got this cloud, this social, and then last, what has been referred to as ‘big data’ but now we’re converting it into the idea of ‘data science’, because it’s not just about the collection of data, it’s about the algorithmic use of data in an automated fashion to provide a much more personalised experience.
And when you put all of those things together, that’s what I call the creative toolbox at the marketer’s disposal now. When you look at that, you begin to understand that there is truly going to be competitive advantage to those brands who think and brainstorm that way, instead of thinking in just a campaign-based fashion, but looking holistically and saying, ‘We have an opportunity here – what if the television ads could trigger something in the mobile app for engagement? And there’s an incentive to purchase at that moment?’ and you begin to get all these creative ideas that can happen.
M: How do you see how marketers are going in terms of digitally transforming? Do you see that in general, things have moved on in the last few years and people pretty much know what they need to be doing? Or is there still a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, that kind of thing?
JR: I think there’s been a lot of settling. The last few years have been about getting used to the new channels, but now the channels have pretty much established themselves. When’s the last time we had something as dramatic and new as a Twitter or a Facebook? Really the things that have come about have been amalgamations of existing technologies. So that’s good, the dust has settled. Now I see a big focus on prioritisation and also ‘How do I digitally transform our enterprise? How do I truly get digital into the enterprise, thinking about mobility and ways to connect with the consumer, to get closer to them and truly become a customer company?’.
That necessitates not just conversations within marketing technologies but the broader spectrum of CRM and service and everything else. That’s where I get kind of excited because, as a guy who was weaned on Peppers and Rodgers The One to One Future, which was a book that came out 21 years ago – well now we’re in the one to one present. But you can’t do it unless you can connect these different things. So the idea of us being this kind of customer success platform excites me because we’re touching sales and service and marketing and applications and community, and all of that is flowing into the single data structure that then different parts of the business can leverage to do their job better. I think I’m seeing more of those conversations happen, especially as more companies begin to move to the cloud, they’re not worried about maintaining software, they’re not worried about a staff to maintain hardware.
They’re now freed up to think innovation. That’s where you get things like the Philips Hue [connected lightbulbs].
M: So it’s a matter of marketing being on top of everything that’s going on in the whole company?
JR: It’s at a DNA level now.
M: How does that change the skills that are necessary for marketers? Do you see marketers need to be more broad-focused, narrow focused?
Well you certainly have marketing becoming more measurable, so you’ve got to have a mathematical sense about you. But there still is going to be this creative side, and the creative side that has traditionally been doing the brand campaigns and things now has the opportunity to be thinking creatively in terms of the enterprise and product development. That gets kind of exciting.
M: I wonder how realistic it is to talk about everyone needing to be creative as well as understanding data. In the real world, you tend to find people favour one side or the other.
JR: You’ve absolutely hit upon something that is a challenge of brand and culture. There are going to be companies that can’t do this because their culture doesn’t let them do it; the politics of the organisation hold them back. And those are going to be the ones that go the way of the dinosaur. The culture has got to have a spirit of innovation.
One of the things that our CEO Marc Benioff hammers is that we are a customer company and we help our clients become customer companies. The customer sits at the centre of everything we do, and that sounds self-evident to people who are familiar with marketing, but there are an awful lot of companies where the stockholder sits at the centre and the customer’s over there. I firmly believe in that mentality – when we put the customer at the centre, good things happen that benefit the shareholder, that benefit the company itself, because now you’re thinking holistically about what their needs are and you can see some of those strange connections you never could have.
You think about the evolution of Uber – why didn’t one of the biggest taxi companies in the world come up with that? Why didn’t a logistics company? Because they were company-centric, not customer-centric.