Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 | 4 min read
Companies unwilling to adapt to the digital marketplace risk their future, said Mark Singer at our recent “Way to Customer-First for Marketers” event. As evidence, the marketing principal at Deloitte Digital offers Exhibit A: Every year, resistance to digital disruption costs scores of companies their Fortune 500 status. That, he says, “is an important reason for change.”
Change – or transformation – involves the wholesale restructuring of a company’s strategic processes and ecosystem to optimize the power of digital marketing, Singer says.
It’s not enough to simply be “doing digital,” he says. A company must commit to “being digital.” It’s the difference between launching “a little social campaign” and incorporating digital DNA throughout the entire organization. It’s about “how you think, how you operate, what work process you work from, how you support yourself.”
Whether a company focuses on content (e.g., Coca-Cola) or technology (e.g., Uber), a big part of change is thinking about who you are and what you are selling and what is your value to customers.
To be digital, “You have to think about it in a coordinated, agile way,” Singer says. While keeping business goals in mind, companies must balance “strategy with operations with the customer experience and the enablement platforms and mixing them up at the same time.”
Nor should any of these elements take precedence automatically or operate independently of one another. Mix them up as needed to create the desired result and “build bridges between the silos,” Singer says.
In a digitally-driven enterprise, data, customer experience and content intersect to drive change and breathe life into a brand across multiple digital platforms. Branding is about behaving, Singer says. “It’s not about what you say; it’s about what you do and who you are and that’s where you start focusing in on how you operate.”
Transformation cannot occur unless a company modifies its organizational structure so that it can keep pace and respond to the evolving digital landscape. Knock down barriers between departments, units and geographic locations to create a fluid digital mindset across the company.
Being digital means bringing the customer into the conversation, Singer says. Craft new rule sets that are organized around the customer, not the product. Ask yourself, “How do we think about customers’ needs and what they want?”
Tailor messages, stories, content and experiences to your customers, Singer says. “How are you creating the signals so that you’re able to respond back and forth? What is it that you want to say?”
CMOs plugged into the digital world create company ecosystems that foster innovation, growth and customer-focused capabilities across the organization, Singer says. Each of these agenda items fortifies a company’s core, which Singer defines as “your customer, your content and your campaign.”
CMOs also ask questions with the purpose of enhancing their companies’ ecosystems: What are the best ways to leverage human capital to strengthen a company’s digital reach and impact? How do your teams interface? How is the sales department taking advantage of external data coming from social listening campaigns? How does your marketing campaign serve not just as the face of the organization, but contribute back to growth?
Break old patterns of doing business, Singer says. Don’t rely on antiquated benchmarks or simply reintroducing last year’s bestseller to move forward. Embrace failure. His motto: “Fail early, fail fast, learn faster.” A willingness to fail encourages creativity and experimentation rather than stagnation.
Finally, digital companies should find external partners (e.g., American Express partnership with TripIt) to create the complete experiences sought by customers. “You can’t do everything,” Singer says.