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ANA Masters of Marketing 2019 Top Takeaways

Emily Hoffman

Driving growth is a perpetually relevant topic for marketers and never more top of mind than during last week’s ANA Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando, Florida– one of the most important industry events of the year, with over 3,000 attendees and speaking sessions from some of the most compelling CMOs and thought leaders in the space. This year, marketers came together to discuss how they’re creating growth for their companies amidst an ever-changing customer landscape and the constant rise of new competition. Here are the top three key takeaways from this year’s ANA Masters of Marketing:


1. Customer attention is fleeting and marketers need to reach them with the right balance of personalization 

Connecting with customers has never been more challenging for marketers. While customers are engaging with content on average about four hours a day, they have become adept at tuning out content and advertising that
they don’t perceive as immediately relevant to them.
Marketers need to get better at understanding their customer’s consumption patterns, experiences, and emotions in order to make their messages stand out. 

But finding the right balance of reaching customers is tough– customers do want to see ads, but they want to see them at the right time, at the right place, with the right message.

Marketers need to find the balance between mass marketing and personalized targeting. And customers surprisingly aren’t opposed to a targeted approach. In fact, Jill Siegel, AVP of Business Intelligence at Xandr, revealed findings from Xandr’s 2019 Relevance Report, which found that 94% of customers know their data is being shared in some form or another. And customers, with their taste for personalized experiences, do not reject targeted ads. They generally have a positive or neutral view of an ad that’s custom to their search history, life stage, or location. 

As we enter an era where customers are more empowered than ever before, their attention and information is currency. According to the report, 65% of marketers and agencies believe the fragmented media landscape requires a new marketing structure that places more focus on understanding the audience. 

2. Data is at the center of deeper customer connections

For many companies, the most important balance to find is between building long-term brand awareness and driving immediate business sales. Recently, many companies have had to rebuild their brand in the face of controversy– a massive data breach scandal in the case of Target, food safety issues for Chipotle, among others.

As a result, businesses are overhauling their marketing strategies with a focus on deeper customer connections, in order to revitalize their brands and win back the hearts of their customers. According to Alicia Tillman, CMO of SAP, “we live in an experience economy and what that means is business is won or lost based on the experience we deliver to our customers.” But this is an area where marketers can massively improve, as 80 percent of CEOs today believe their brands deliver an exceptional customer experience, but only eight percent of customers agree with that. 

Data is at the heart of overcoming this challenge. Marketers need data to prove out the decisions they make and ensure that they are delivering compelling content that resonates with their customers. Tillman notes that “creating exceptional customer experience is both an art and a science. We need data to understand the feelings of buyers to drive the necessary creative interaction relevant to that.”

Meanwhile, Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer at Publicis Group, called refined data “the new oil,” noting that the future of data-driven storytelling isn’t just about data, it’s about scaling and understanding that data. 

3. The role of the CMO is changing 

With CMOs on stage from massive corporations from Chipotle to Dunkin’ Donuts to Bank of America, conversation often turned to the changing role of the CMO, particularly as companies like McDonald’s, Uber, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson have done away with the CMO role or restructured to include a ‘Chief Growth Officer’ within the C-suite. 

It’s clear that marketing leaders today are faced with much more responsibility, beyond just advertising and creative. Growth is the key to the modern marketing mandate and connecting with customer values, customer experience, and cultural relevancy are top priorities.

Chris Brandt talked about a recent rebrand that he led as the CMO of Chipotle, reigniting the brand’s voice, with a focus on food after years of food safety issues. The company launched a “For Real” campaign in September 2018 that focused on the real ingredients that Chipotle prides themselves on. The company has also found new ways to promote existing products and is looking at new ways to reach customers, beyond traditional ads, including showcasing bowl lid flips on TikTok. 

Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts CMO, Tony Weisman, told the story of the company’s broken relationship with customers and how it worked to keep the brand relevant through a top-to-bottom marketing overhaul.  As a result, the brand value was up by 73% in 2018.  

While the CMO title may be going away, marketing leaders have never been in a more empowered position to directly impact bottom line growth for their businesses, through their customer-centric approach and data-driven decision making.

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