Here’s what you missed — 142: Catching Waves and Going Carbon Neutral with the World Surf League

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Catching Waves and Going Carbon Neutral with the World Surf League

How can a brand save the world? They could do something flashy, like repel an alien invasion or topple Godzilla, or they could do something real and substantive, like the World Surf League. When the WSL isn’t helping pro surfers shred the next big curl (are we saying that right?) or giving sports fans a great way to soak up some rays, they’re preparing for the future. As a sport deeply intertwined with the environment, that means committing to going carbon neutral.

Sophie Goldschmidt, CEO of the WSL, has helped this goal permeate the entirety of the organization, and has noted how crucial it is to have a brand purpose worth rallying behind. On this episode, she discusses her athletics-centered marketing career, from Adidas, to the World Tennis Association, the NBA, and Rugby Football Union, as well as her commitment to brand purpose, engaging with the customers, effective company leadership, and more.

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Here’s what you missed – 141: B2B Brands Can Beat “Boring” and Bad Bounce Rates

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B2B Brands Can Beat “Boring” and Bad Bounce Rates

What does a B2B brand’s website have in common with a SuperBall? A significant bounce rate! Okay, maybe not the funniest joke, but it does transition well into discussing a pretty real issue with many B2B brands: they’re boring! There are plenty exceptions, of course, but far too often, B2B brands end up being, as this week’s guest puts it, “B2Boring.”

Ryan Urban is the CEO & Founder of BounceX, a company that helps brands optimize their websites (and ditch the high bounce rates). In examining countless B2B brands, Urban has gotten a great sense of where these companies tend to go wrong, and so much of it ties to these brands being dull, playing it safe, and failing to show any personality. Their websites and content too often lack story, and end up being “coagulated, congealed buzzwords” that’ll just bounce prospects away like a trampoline. So, if you’re interested in hearing about how brands can be a little more exciting, what landing pages need to be successful, and more, tune in to this week’s Renegade Thinkers Unite.

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Here’s what you missed – 140: Navigating Modern B2B Media

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Navigating Modern B2B Media

Email is still innovative…right? One might argue that email marketing has become the Facebook of marketing strategies— It was cool at first, it hasn’t declined yet, but everyone and their grandmother is now on it. So what are the trendy marketing kids using now? Erik Huberman, CEO & Founder of Hawke Media, gives us the answer: SMS. As it turns out, customers only engage with marketing emails about 3% of the time, while the average click-through rate for SMS marketing tallies up to 30%. That’s a number to write home about.

Erik knows that these statistics are too important to ignore and knows that they’re indicative of a larger shift in B2B. Acknowledging that shift, and moving with it, has helped Erik’s young company grow from 7 to 160 employees in just about 5 years. On this week’s episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew chats with Erik about the shift in traditional advertising towards more efficient digital strategies, and how B2B marketers can navigate it artfully. Learn about how this shift isn’t for everyone, the importance of product demand, what an outsourced CMO does, and more.

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Here’s what you missed — 138: Marketing Adobe: How Ann Lewnes Plants Flags and Inspires

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Marketing Adobe: How Ann Lewnes Plants Flags and Inspires

How do you effectively lead the marketing efforts of a 20,000+ employee tech giant well enough to make it into the American Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame? Sure—the question may sound a bit specific, but that journey is chock full of valuable takeaways for marketers at any sized company, in any line of work. Lucky enough for RTU listeners, this week’s episode features Ann Lewnes.

Ann is a recent inductee into the AMA Hall of Fame and is currently the CMO of Adobe, a company that doesn’t really need much of an introduction. In her time at Adobe, she’s established herself as a trail-blazing, “flag planter” who gives great attention to the big picture. Listen in to this episode to hear about how she does that, her own marketing journey, the content strategy for Adobe, building brand trust, inspiring the people around you, and more.

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How to Give Your Content Moxy!

Truth by told, most brands dabble in content.  Sure they’re cranking out blog posts, images and even videos but few have allocated the resources to truly capture the hearts and minds of their target audience.  Here’s when you know things are serious:

  • The CEO believes in content enough to create a separate production department & fund it
  • The CEO hires a content chief who understands the essential elements of storytelling
  • The content creators are not slaves to the product manager’s briefs
  • The budget includes funding for quality, quantity and media support
  • Everyone involved recognizes that content has a long gestation period and is not to be confused with direct response marketing

So who is getting right?  For one,  Marriott International and to learn more about their efforts, I talked with David Beebe, Global Creative and Content Marketing for Marriott’s portfolio of 19 brands (Marriott Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Moxy Hotels, +++) covering 4,200 hotels in 82 countries. David was a winner of The CMO Club’s award for Content Marketing which isn’t all that surprising given his strong roots in Hollywood (Disney/ABC, Direct TV & Showtime).  Part 2 of my highly informative interview with David follows. You can find part 1 on our podcast.  To give you a sense of the quality of David and his team’s work, take a look at the video below before reading how it came to pass.


Drew: Tell me how the French Kiss video program was put together?

David: Often times, brand don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They just want to create a film or a webisode. With our brands, we actually sat them down and if they couldn’t explain why, we sent them back to the drawing table to really understand the purpose of it. An example of that, with Moxy, a new brand we have for the next generation traveler, they wanted to do something in the content space. They’re why is very simple. It’s a brand new brand. Even with the power of Marriott, it takes a lot of work to introduce a new brand to the marketplace so we said “let’s do a webisode series. What’s the format, where should it live, what’s the creative and the right talent?”

Drew: How many episodes have you created and how did you measure success?

David: We’ve done close to 12+ episodes. It wasn’t measured by driving revenue, but we introduced what the brand was to viewers. Versus the films, a larger investment, we wanted to do all those things but then create a revenue source around it. How do you take content, but keep people in your world? With everything that we do, we create that content ecosystem of where we’re able to keep the audience in our brand world, keep them engaged with more. No content should have a dead end so after you watch French Kiss, you’re presented with the sales package. We provided you with value first, entertained you, hopefully you’ve built a relationship with us and say “That’s cool, they didn’t try to sell me anything there, I’m inspired to travel. Let me check out what there actually offering me and selling me.” Most of our webisodes have sales packages around them as well.

Drew: Since you weren’t measuring heads in beds on the Moxy webisodes, how do we measure the effectiveness?

David: It’s reach, but what we look at a lot is time spent with the content, because that tells us if it’s good content, if people are engaged with the content. If so, that means we’ve got something there. If we can give them the right content, then ultimately I can build a community around people who like that content and then drive commerce from them. We distributed exclusively on YouTube and Instagram to drive traffic but we’ve been able to see really high engagement. People really identify and understand what the Moxy brand is because that comes through in the actual content itself.

Drew: How do you make sure that your videos are being watched?

David: You invest into a production, you put it out, and you assume the world will come to it and that’s the exact opposite of what happens. Good or bad, everyone is a content creator today. We use paid media campaigns to promote the content, and we run it all on YouTube through True View ads and that’s where we’re seeing and getting all these stats. People went to YouTube to watch something else and they were presented with a story driven piece of content, not an ad, that they had the option to skip after 5 seconds but they didn’t because they were immediately drawn into it because it was different and they’re used to ads. That’s where we’re seeing such high completion rates. It’s also the opportunity of brands as media companies. In many cases, many brands have a powerful owned media network beyond their social channels. Brands need to step back and look at all the channels they actually own that they can program their content through.

Drew: How does the Moxy content direct the viewer to the product?

David: On YouTube it’s presented through the descriptions usually in the text below and we embed that YouTube player into the Moxy website itself. There’s a special mini-site that is built for the majority of our shows where you’re able to find out what the show is about and that’s where the sales package is presented as well and obviously we promote that page and tap into taking that offer and presenting that to our 80 million reward member through email marketing. Our engagement rates, our open rates, are huge because they expect that email every week with offers from Marriott within that world we created. We’re not just putting a piece of content out there and letting it sit.

Drew: Do you have a strategy brief format that you give to the brands and say “you need to put your content in this vernacular or we can’t get you where you want to go?”

David: I’m actually not a big believer in briefs at all. They confuse people, people don’t know what to put in them. Often times its just useless information. We sit all of our brands down and just do in-person meetings and conversations. We’re hiring people who come from the media business. All the leadership on my team has come from journalism, network news, production companies, but they also understand the marketing side and the business side. Going back to that key person you need to hire, you don’t want to hire a creative that just thinks big but doesn’t know how to execute or match it to business results. Our approach is brand immersion. Many brands, including ours, will sit you down for days and tell you what their brand is about. From a certain point from a content marketing perspective, we don’t go that deep.

Drew: Why not?

David: I’m trying to hit, in our case next generation travelers, they’re business travelers, leisure travelers or family travelers and I’m trying to hit a passion point- what there interested in, and also the way that they travel and create stories within there. It’s understanding the brand and what its about but at the same time collaborating with a creator where the brand is a character. When we first started, we just talked about content in general and one of the brand marketers said “here’s my idea. We put a GoPro on someone’s head, they check in at the front desk, they go to their room, they fall on the bed and they’re like ‘this is such a great pillow.’” That’s not content marketing, that’s not storytelling. Now that consumers are in charge, we have to shift to not talking about ourselves but what does that consumer want, how do I entertain them, how do I solve their problems, how do I build a relationship with them, provide value?” Then I have their attention and they’re more likely to pay attention to what I’m actually trying to sell you. Ultimately, I want to build long term, valuable relationships.

Drew: Does the brand team see content as “nice to have” or fundamental to driving their business units?

David: I think in our case, all of the brand leaders understand the value of storytelling and what we’re doing. They may not completely understand the mechanics of it and how it all works. I think people in content marketing understand the change that’s happening and get super excited. Content marketing is just one piece of the pie. Its not everything. I think people see the scale of what we’re doing which is phenomenal but at the same time, we’re doing a lot of traditional stuff. We’ve shifted a lot of money into content so there’s that standalone content budget that the studio has which is something all content studios need, because then your battle is only selling the concept to the brand, not that you also need money to go do it. Also, brands are shifting brand marketing dollars into content activities and, in our case at least, are very excited about it.

Drew: So how far can this shift to content go?

David: It doesn’t mean we’ve stopped dong everything else we do, but things are shifting as they understand how the audience is shifting. One of the tactics I use to educate leadership here is present an idea of publish or perish. We all the opportunities to be publishers. I read a stat from Google that says 82% of people skip TV ads and I say “when was the last time any of you were watching a show and got excited when a commercial came on and tuned in 100%” Most of us start doing something else. I’m not saying stop all TV marketing and advertising but its not as effective as it used to be. We look at all traditional marketing. Why are brands spending all this money on stuff that doesn’t perform? We just use numbers, say “here is the reality.” We’re not trying to sell you anything as an executive leader, so let’s try this.

Why Big Ideas Still Matter

Every once in a while I stumble upon a marketing campaign that makes me proud of my chosen profession.  You see, after more than three decades in this business, I still believe that great marketing can be a force of goodness for both brand and society.  Admittedly it’s a lofty goal and not one a lot of marketers care about. What it takes is a recognition that exceptional brands need to do exceptional things, that brands are ideas enriched by ideals not just products laden with rational attributes.  And in my humble opinion, Brita’s The Filtered Life, a campaign you will learn about shortly, meets if not exceeds this standard.

In my extensive interview with Eric Reynolds, Chief Marketing Officer at Clorox, you will learn the rationale behind Brita’s new campaign and get to know the man behind the marketing curtain at Brita’s parent company.  You’ll also quickly understand why Eric was recognized by The CMO Club with its Marketing Innovation award. It takes Courage to join a conversation that is bigger than your brand and it requires a bit of Artfulness to make sure your brand has permission to go there.  Reynolds exhibits both which along with being Thoughtful and Scientific, adds him to my growing list of cool CATS.  But don’t take my acronym for it, read on. [And stay tuned– my new podcast series Renegade Thinkers Unite kicks off March 1, 2017 with a different yet equally compelling conversation with Eric!]

Drew: What’s your proudest accomplishment as a marketer at Clorox?

Eric: Marketing that meant something to me is the way I’d like to approach that. I had the privilege of working in the Caribbean for about 4 years with Clorox. One of the proudest things I did was, during the time of H1N1 [swine flu], our ability to drive not just the brand and the product but a lot of our disinfecting products used in everyday ordinary ways can dramatically reduce everything from infectious diseases to speed bumps like the cold and the flu. The proudest thing was our work in Haiti. We were working to sell bleach to kill something in water that can kill you. We were partnering with the Clinton foundation to get bleach over the border in greater supply from the DR and then in 2010 in January, Haiti suffered that earthquake. We sent people in to hand out bleach to disinfect their water supplies because that’s the biggest fear after the earthquake- infectious diseases. We sold a lot of bleach, we drove the brand, but I’m really proud because we connected to a very human need and we found a very creative way- we put backpacks on people, gave them sashes of bleach. They went around to all these poor areas and were handing out a packet of bleach so people can add it to their rain barrels. I was proud that we could put that all together. It touched me because we actually touched a human life. When you feel the intimate connection between the brand and the product and the person, it means a lot.

Drew: If you were pointing to “the” brand right now, what would that brand be?

Eric: Some of the best marketing we’re doing today is getting manifested in Brita. What I like about the work here is, Brita has been a troubled business for a while, the water category continues to grow but filtered water penetration has been falling and we’ve just found that Brita as a brand has a point of view that filtering out water is a much better thing. We have a point of view of the world as a brand that encourages people to filter out all the negativity and things that stand in their way. The point was, we tied filtration to a deeper point of view. Bringing it to life, and then leveraging someone like Steph Curry. Soon, he’ll be talking about filtering out the negativity. I can’t wait for this to hit the market because one of the things he’s passionate about is online bullying. That comes from a deep-seeded place in Steph Curry, but it’s also something we care about. If you’re bullied online, you run the risk of having that start to influence how you see yourself. The point is, Brita with Steph Curry talking about filtration as a larger concept and bringing it all the way down into our product is just really smart marketing. It’s a natural place for us to be as a brand and we don’t forsake all the product innovation that’s coming and the products we have. We’re seeing consumers beginning to respond in really compelling, social ways. In ways that start a cultural conversation. I would say we’re just starting to turn the corner on being clear about our brands, what their point of view is, how we connect consumers with both the big brand story as well as stories about the products that make a real difference in peoples’ lives. They’re doing it in a very nimble, studio-focused, team way.

Drew: What is the data and tech that Brita uses?

Eric: We’ve done a lot of programmatic, media things all the way to custom content. We’ve certainly leveraged that on Brita because the category has relatively small penetration but we can find these small targets. We’ve leveraged everything from our own first party data to retailer data and weather data. One of the things that excites me though is we’ve used our data science to identify new segments within water filtration that would not have been apparent to us, that defy classic segmentation. We found a strong growth in college students and that came out of data science. We found another thing with people who are very involved with tea. It’s always intuitive post facto but data scientists looked at all these ways and people started clustering who were heavy tea and coffee drinkers. We probably never would’ve come up with our own segment like college students but now that we’ve identified these people we can develop products against them, innovate against them, talk to them. That’s what excites me. It’s not just a marketing communications programmatic story, it’s how we leverage data. Machine learning clusters consumers in ways we never would’ve got to and I think that is very much part of the future. I’m very proud of data technology affecting marketing in the broad sense.

Drew: I particularly admire that you’re thinking about creating products that match a particular target’s needs. So often marketers simply take the same old product and then try to use distinctive advertising to say, “hey we get you so buy our product.” Seems like there’s a bigger opportunity to create a specific product particularly for say college students and then figure how to support that product online and at the right retail locations.

Eric: I’d just like to build on that point. I think you’ve hit on something extremely important which is “how do we redefine product experiences, how do you extend an experience digitally, how do you begin to use it to meet those needs?” That’s the harder part but if marketing is going to own the growth agenda, and we’re definitely going to have all this data sitting around, it has to transcend from what we call doing digital to being digital. If you are being digital, you’re going to rethink innovation and product and digital requirements. It’s a bigger reframing and I think that’s something we’re way under-leveraging that we’re eager to put our shoulder into as we go from doing digital to being digital.

Drew: I would think your new positioning for Brita of filtering out negativity would resonate with college students. It might require different degrees of execution, but the overall message has got to be hugely relevant, right?

Eric: When we said “hey, we stand for something and you’re going to see more about what we call the Filtered Life” we found that with our targeting and our very intimate segmentation, that idea can resonate for lots of different people but you have to tune it to them. That’s the joy of marketing, when you get to have a piece of communication or a message or idea that feels like a natural part of their day, that they invite you in to be considered. That’s the great part about this filtered idea. To your point, you’ll share that idea with college students differently. Now with rapid content, maybe an influencer thrown in, we can begin to really romance that group and say “we have real value.” Of course, college students don’t talk this way, marketers do, but they will gravitate towards us. We have a new product coming out that I can’t share with you but I think you’re going to find that this really addresses the younger and college age group and their needs in a way that I don’t think we would have done before.

Drew: What were some of the key steps to bring Brita’s Filtered Life campaign to market?

Eric: It started with a very large strategic reimagining of the brand. At some point, someone has to say “Stop. We’re doing all this stuff. Why? Why does it matter?” That really started as a catalyst of 2 people. We had some new leadership on the brand. As a function, we’re more committed to articulating this, but we brought our new advertising agency on board at the same time. There’s nothing like having new friends who don’t know the brand as well to ask some really hard questions about what we’re all about. You put the alchemy of those forces acting upon the brand and then the courage to do something with it. That’s really what kicked it off. It’s a leadership question, it’s someone declaring a better future and willing to go back and question some of the fundamentals of the brand and why we’re not winning as much as we want to. What I like about the Brita story is the commitment that the idea, the brand, the product experience, would lead us out of the woods. Leaning into the fundamentals was a way to win so that we’d have a brand for the next 50 years and not just put the consumer more reliant on price promotion and other offers. I love the commitment to brand building as a craft and a business imperative all coming together. We’ve got high hopes for Brita over the next year.

Drew: You already have a huge share of market in a category that has been flat for a while. To some extent, all your energy has to be in growing the category and that’s very hard. In this new positioning, the filtering of things, how will you measure success? Are there other measures that will make you believe that what you’re doing has made a difference?

Eric: We have all kinds of metrics. We have sales, of course, a way of measuring media effectiveness on some of our channels. We’re also working on the listening and asking metrics. We definitely want to change the idea of Brita in people’s head and we’re going to be tracking our progress against those metrics as well. We will use the brand to sell more stuff this year. That’s our job as marketers, but there’s an equity journey for Brita and then there are metrics. Is the brand becoming more relevant to college students, do they see it as a credible alternative to bottled water, do they see us as standing on their side? Fundamentally those metrics in addition to the sales metrics will put them all together.

Drew: If you don’t have brand health you have no hope.

Eric: Sometimes the attention goes to the alarmists. Sometimes you say “no, let’s look at our health metrics. They’re very strong. Yes, we don’t like this brand saying something about our brand or doing something.” We’re not disregarding it but we won’t overreact either. We need to stay on our plan. We think the equity can long withstand this relatively short attack on what we stand for. I think it just helps us keep an intelligent course. When I started in the field a long time ago, I don’t think we had that balance of brand health metrics. We got overly focused on ROI or sales. I think today’s conception of it is bringing it all together and trying to chart the right course for the short, mid, and long term.

Drew: As you look at this Brita program, is there a lesson that stands out that other marketers might benefit from?

Eric: It took more time. We got to the big idea of Brita faster than we thought. We had ways of learning, sharing this idea with people and learning about it. What took us longer was let’s make sure we just don’t celebrate. Let’s follow that idea down into the product moments, into the communication. Does the whole thing hang together? We found an idea around Brita that we think is relevant and true and then we just realized it took us longer. I would tell all marketers that once you find the big idea, keep going but really pressure test it and make sure it can speak to your category authentically all the way down to your product experience. You’ll know you’re on to a good one when it speaks comfortably on all those levels. We have wonderful PR and social leaders in our company. We put them all the way up front. They’re not just like “here’s an idea, go find a way to activate it” because they’re listening for “can we create an idea that is shareable, that will work comfortably in the social space from day one?”