Tag Archives: chief marketing officer

How to Make Sense of Marketing Tech

Thanks to Scott Brinker at chiefmartech.com for sharing the 2017 Marketing Technology Supergraphic above. I appreciate every year seeing the updated technology landscapes along with the insights and commentary provided by Luma Partners. If you are having trouble making out any of the details, it’s not your eyesight. More than 5,000 companies are included on the landscape, astoundingly up from 150 in 2011.

Wow. Does the chief marketing officer really need 5,000 — and growing — choices? Even within the super-graphic’s sub-categories, any executive may find herself searching for just a few needles in the haystack. That short list will only include those needs that matter enough to command resources at the expense of some other priority: Software will be licensed, planned into the tech stack, fed by data to produce decisions and provide leverage for media selection, offer testing, user experience, servicing, personalization, team collaboration or any of the other demands of a modern marketing organization.

The super-graphic conveys at least two messages:

  • Lots of engineers see that marketing is a function continuing to live with daily disruption and want to help, or see an open window at least to build solutions.
  • With so many solutions out there, it’s reasonable to question where the value and meaningful differences are among them. Where has tech product specialization become so deep that solutions are not relevant enough to be worth the CMO’s pursuit?

Direct marketers have long subscribed to the orthodoxy that choice depresses response. While not always the case, certainly when presented with an overwhelming number of choices buyers tend to shut down. Without a framework relevant to the CMO’s needs, having 5,000-plus options on one slide (while a remarkable feat of design, even organized into tech-based categories with add-on, zoom-in capability) will feed decision-making paralysis.

See also: Insurtechs Are Pushing for Transparency  

There is a way to not get swallowed by the mar-tech vortex, one that is remarkably low-tech and depends more on critical thinking, collaboration, customer focus and clear commercial goals. In this context, software is the enabler, the means but not the end.

That way? Be clear on what the business strategy is. How does the business strategy translate into the short list of marketing priorities — those that constitute a 20/110 effort-for-impact calculation? This means the 20% of activity that will make 110% of the difference. (I prefer 20/110 thinking to the more common 80/20 — let’s admit that some of the decisions that marketers make end up dragging down results, and that the headlines that dominate team appraisals of progress tend to focus on a short list versus the totality).

Strategy comes down to:

  • The starting point: Where are you now?
  • The destination: Where do you want to be?
  • The route: How do you anticipate getting there?
  • The rationale: Why does any of this matter?

The focus for any CMO trying to decide where to start and where to put her undoubtedly too-scarce resources is to be confident about:

  • What customer problems the brand wants to solve that will allow standout status in the hearts and minds of our users.
  • And, what marketing capabilities (technology and otherwise) are needed to ensure the brand gets to the solution(s) that widen competitive advantage and grow user preference.

See also: The Failures and Successes of Insurtech  

Mar-tech along with all of the other advanced technologies available today should be chosen because they can help the brand enable remarkable differentiation — in the hearts and minds of customers. With strategy in hand, it is possible to make smart decisions and tradeoffs for the right reasons, about how to prioritize mar-tech investments for business leverage. Then, frameworks such as this complex snapshot of what technology can do for marketing become incredibly useful places to start searching for the appropriate enablers.

Insurers Win Big With Social Media

Insurance agents have long understood the need to be social as a part of their sales process: the best agents have always been those who build strong relationships with and educate customers, keep in touch and ask for referrals. But new ways of communicating have resulted in new expectations buyers have, such as being able to Google an agent and check out his or her LinkedIn profile before deciding to proceed. This means that insurers need to rethink the sales process and the tools that they provide to their agents, so agents can take full advantage of the power of social media.

The profile information and status updates that more than one billion people share each day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer agents incredible insights into what is happening in the lives of current and potential policyholders. These insights signal to agents what types of insurance are needed by the customer and generally allow the agent to build trust through personal connection and personalized service. As a result, agents can now be smarter about when they contact customers and prospects and more directed in their communications, saving agents time and improving business results. Researching prospects on social media and understanding what's happening in their lives ensures that every call will be warm. In the era of social media, the cold call is dead.

The insurance industry has been an early adopter of social technology. While regulated industries, including financial services and insurance, tend to be cautious because of compliance concerns, a study by International Data Corp. found that the insurance industry has actually blazed the trail with social media. Farmers, Nationwide, Thrivent Financial, Northwestern Mutual and other Fortune 500 insurance organizations have instituted forward-thinking initiatives on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter that have demonstrated social success that other industries are attempting to replicate.

But it's time for all insurers to move to the second wave with social. In the first wave, many companies rushed to get as many “likes” as possible on their Facebook pages. But research shows that these “likes” have failed to convert into lasting value and tangible return on investment. In the second wave of social, insurers are realizing that they need to focus on results achieved through true engagement and authentic relationships. Just as it has always been, since long before the digital age, developing long-standing relationships is key to building a successful business in the social era.

For insurers, moving on to the second wave means two main things:

First, insurers need to provide unique and relevant content that agents can use on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. For an agent, sharing relevant content via social channels builds credibility and helps establish them as a trusted expert that their connections will turn to when they need insurance. Marketing departments already know the type of content that resonates with customers and are typically producing professional content used in other online and offline channels. For example, success stories about the value of insurance or financial planning tools are valuable pieces of content for agents to share socially.

Second, insurers must empower the field. As an example, Thrivent Financial, a Hearsay Social client, has hundreds of agents actively managing their own local Facebook pages. As financial experts, Thrivent Financial representatives share value with their close-knit communities by consistently posting relevant content, like IRA calculators and market analyses. In addition, Thrivent reps share personal updates and plan community events, building an authentic social presence while still appropriately representing brand.

Organizations that empower agents to create their own local social-media presences are many times more effective than when the same messages are shared from a corporate page. While having five million fans wins bragging rights for any brand marketer, from the consumer's perspective, it can be much more powerful to hear the story from a local representative that you know and trust.

A local insurance agent's Facebook page

Savvy chief marketing officers at insurers have done a great job of making a relatively abstract product tangible by creating some of the most interesting and memorable personas in the history of marketing — Mayhem the Allstate villain, Flo the Progressive Girl, Snoopy representing MetLife and the GEICO gecko. For an industry that sells a product you can't hear, see, smell, taste or touch, this is impressive. And the characters can drive social-media strategies, allowing a company to create a social-media asset for a character (e.g., the Facebook page for Mayhem). Getting consumers to “like” the page can provide yet another entry point into the News Feed, increasing engagement for the brand and driving sales. When your local MetLife agent posts a picture of a sleeping Snoopy with the text “TGIF,” how can you not click “like”?

While insurers are off to a great start with social marketing, there is so much more that they can do to leverage the power of social media into sales. By coordinating enterprise-wide social selling programs, insurance companies can empower agents to attract more prospects and build stronger relationships, leading the way by selling socially.