October 2011

Are Marketers Keeping up With the Market?

Understanding and Delivering Customer Experiences That Count

Marketing Middleware: The 'Intel Inside' of Your Organization

Redefining the Las Vegas Experience

Leading the Charge for Change – How WellPoint is Doing it

Recommended Reading

News & Events


Are Marketers Keeping up With the Market?

By Scott Davis

The forces and pace of change are increasing the pressure on marketers to adjust, and many consider it an uphill battle.

In his latest post on Forbes.com's CMO Network, Prophet's Chief Growth Officer Scott Davis discusses some of the key capabilities and mindsets that must be fostered to thrive - and offers up five questions marketers must ask themselves to gauge their readiness.

1. Are you building the kind of world-class marketing capabilities that are needed to win in the marketplace?

2. Are your marketers uncovering emerging opportunities to leverage for future business growth, or are they lost in a sea of consumer, channel, competitive, technology and trend data?

3. Do you spend as much time thinking about how to listen to customers as you spend thinking about how to talk to them?

4. Do your products and services simply meet a need and a price point, or do they create moments of surprise and delight?

5. Are you looking beyond your competitors - and your customers - for inspiration and insights around what's next?

Read Scott's complete post here. To stay current on Scott's latest thinking, follow him on Twitter.

Understanding and Delivering Customer Experiences That Count

By Rune Gustafson and Peter Dixon

"Customer experience" is one of those amorphous terms that is increasingly in the public consciousness nowadays. Its meaning seems to shift according to your perspective; it's often viewed with merely an operational or product lens versus as the sum total of customer interactions and the emotions they evoke.

The ability to replicate the kinds of customer experiences that Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic, Zappos, Starwood, or Apple have created is something many aspire to accomplish. It is an attainable goal. All it takes is the mindset combined with consistent and thoughtful deployment of various tools that allow the experiences being provided to be monitored and optimized.

It begins with understanding the scope and importance of "customer experience." Prophet believes it's all about making an emotional connection with people as a powerful means of shaping behaviors and advocacy, and tightening their relationship with your brand.

It's not just about interactions between customers and the people who power your brand, such as sales staff or customer service representatives. It's about interactions between the environment and the customer and between communications materials and customers. And with the product itself: how the car feels when it drives, what it sounds like when it starts up or accelerates, or what it smells like right off the showroom floor.

It all combines to create a feeling within the customer that is integral to how they build their impressions, loyalty, and emotional connection to the brand.

Getting there starts with an organizational philosophy that's customer-centric, typically led by a visionary who ensures that it becomes a hallmark of the culture where upholding it is everyone's job.

It takes prioritizing, then leveraging, individual or groups of touchpoints that matter most to target audiences, which will enable the business to not only do a better job of creating an experience that matters, but also gain the best returns on investment. Getting there requires deploying the right research tools that help create a deeper understanding of what resonates with customers in creating an experience that either works or doesn't.

It's also key to remember that there is no such thing as a singular customer experience. It's really comprised of many interactions, moments of truth, and touchpoints, and is likely to change over time: This makes the task of evaluating all the elements that feed into it a daunting task.

As a result, Prophet has developed techniques to better understand the customer experience, apply elements of what the brand strategy should be at different points of interaction, and innovate around them in ways that will engage customers more meaningfully and profitably. We call it Experience Attribute Mapping (EXAM), a means to deconstruct, evaluate, and change the very complex customer journey in a manageable manner.

Creating and delivering a customer experience that wins hearts and minds can be a huge and profitable differentiator. But at a time when touchpoints are proliferating and resources are limited, identifying those that matter most and can best be leveraged for maximum impact is the challenge. Understanding the nuances takes a blend of insights, creativity, and focus. And those that get it and act accordingly will be the biggest winners.

Peter Dixon is Senior Partner and Creative Director of Prophet; Rune Gustafson is President of EMEA Operations. An expanded version of this article can be found here.

Marketing Middleware: The 'Intel Inside' of Your Organization

By Jeff Smith and Jeff Gourdji

Short CMO tenure has become a widely accepted fact of life. The arguments for this state are quite familiar: Poor cultural fit, overly ambitious agenda, lack of productivity, change in business strategy, no budget… just to name a few.

In fact, there's a more fundamental issue at play that's systemic across organizations. There's a missing piece of what we call marketing middleware - the "Intel Inside" of marketing. It’s the organizational marketing capability necessary for the CMO to succeed.

An organization may have strong leadership that charts a clear course and sets business strategy. And it may have functional marketing capabilities to effectively drive tactical execution. But the core marketing capabilities that are responsible for the translation between the two often seem to be in disrepair. Just as in software, where middleware serves as the glue that connects applications and allows them to work together, marketing middleware enables the back and forth translation of strategy, insights, and execution.

Building this marketing middleware is not just about CMOs saving their jobs. It's also about CEOs saving theirs. Making the shift toward a market focus is critical as markets mature and products are increasingly commoditized by competition. The demands for organic growth, global expansion, going beyond productivity and cost savings make the need for building strong marketing capabilities more profound than ever before.

Jeff Smith is Partner of Prophet; Jeff Gourdji is Associate Partner. Learn how to chart the path for designing marketing middleware to fit your organization here.

Redefining the Las Vegas Experience

As the "last hurrah" of the Great Las Vegas Building Boom, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas faced considerable skepticism, and not just from the community, at the prospect of yet another casino resort in an already crowded and commoditized market.

It was being planned in the midst of the Great Recession. It was a small (by comparison) single property enterprise competing against players with multi-property portfolios. And its new owners needed to have it open by December of 2010, leaving only 15 months to create a new vision for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas brand, bring it to life, and, in the process, redefine the idea of Las Vegas luxury.

Learn how The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Prophet teams worked together to transform the entire casino resort experience with spectacular outcomes. Read the case study here. And learn the first-hand perspectives of CEO John Unwin and CMO Lisa Marchese by viewing this video.

Leading the Charge for Change – How WellPoint is Doing it

The change agenda is being pushed on the healthcare industry from every front, and from Kate Quinn's perspective, it's creating "a marketer's dream." Quinn is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of WellPoint and has been instrumental in leading its shift in mindset, strategy, and capabilities to succeed in an environment of healthcare reform. WellPoint is the largest franchise in the BlueCross BlueShield family, the holding company for Anthem and Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia. In a recent interview with Prophet, Quinn discussed the evolution that is underway.

How does healthcare reform create a marketer's dream?

During my entire career in healthcare, we marketers have pushed organizations to think about putting the consumer at the center of our focus. Healthcare reform accelerates this by creating a new retail market, new distribution channels, and new requirements for products, services, and communicating to customers. It forces a new value proposition. This will help push many of the changes we've wanted to make.

One of WellPoint's core values is that the customer comes first. But there have been many definitions of who the actual customer is. You could get a different answer depending on who you talk to. With group health insurance, a lot of emphasis has been placed on the employer who purchased the plan for employees. But employees are the actual users of the plan. And brokers, as well as doctors, have been considered "customers" too.

Now that is all coming into focus for us, and we're shifting from a business-to-business to a business-to-consumer focus. Employers, doctors, and brokers are still very important to us. But by focusing on the members first, we can work backwards, and everyone will be satisfied.

How would you describe the role of marketing at WellPoint?

Until recently, it was decentralized, and more of a sales function than a strategic driver for the business. Today, we're playing a more strategic role and leading the way to help the rest of the business understand what it means to be consumer focused. Bringing marketing together as a single unit was a critical change for us. But you can move faster with one team and one marketing strategy versus multiple teams servicing different business segments. Marketing is such a critical capability for our future that we've spent the last year making considerable progress building best-in-class talent, programs, and capabilities to support all of WellPoint's business areas.

What have been some of the other important aspects to your program?

At a higher level, we've been working at involving other senior leaders of the company in this focus, and also helping to embed the voice of consumer in the strategy and everyday business decisions.

We are also driving a process to look at the end-to-end consumer experience and find ways to make improvements as a means of meeting our underlying charge to drive growth. It's been revealing for us to see parts of the experience from their view, many of which we don’t even control. Providers, for example, are in our network, but we have no control over their operations. Still, the office visit is part of the experience and we want to make sure it goes smoothly. What administrative changes can make it better? We'll learn that things we do really well in one segment of the business can be refined and used in others. We've never looked at the end-to-end consumer experience before, and this will help us better acquire new members, retain existing ones, and do a better job of cross-selling.

What have the biggest challenges been?

Probably the biggest one is prioritizing the future. We're still very successful at doing what we've been doing, and we need to invest to continue to do that. But we also need to figure out the right balance between investing in what will be versus what it is today.

What are the proof points that you're succeeding at getting ahead of the change agenda?

Our CEO is talking about the member, the consumer. Our product, service, and operational strategies are revolving around consumers. Another big milestone has been activating consumer segments across the business – developing a shared vision of who they are, who we should attract and retain, and what they mean to the business overall.

Any advice for others on their journey?

I believe that people generally fail when they close their minds to learning. Today, there's such a fast pace and such change, whether in the media space, the marketplace, or social media. Marketers – people – have to be adaptable, open to learning from others, and willing to admit that it's not possible to have all the knowledge in one place, and then seek it out.

My best advice is to find pockets of people and departments that are ripe for change. You can't change everything overnight, but you will find people to partner with who also believe change is needed. It's also important to understand that small successes are important, and can quickly lead to bigger successes.

Recommended Reading

Case study: Emart
Read more about how strategy-led design and understanding customer behavior reinvented the leading retailer in South Korea.

The Inspiration Discipline
By Andy Stefanovich, Fred Geyer, and Jesse Purewal
Learn how every organization can become a productive source of inspired and actionable ideas by practicing the Inspiration Discipline - the hard work of "looking at more stuff and thinking about it harder."

Case study: U.S. Cellular
Learn more about how Prophet created a breakthrough positioning that differentiates U.S. Cellular in a crowded market, and served as the catalyst for the much lauded The Belief Project.

Case study: Company O
See how Prophet developed and extended "The Company O Way" to help this client drive improved customer engagement, portfolio and pricing management, and the robustness of the new product pipeline.

News & Events

Scott Davis is a new contributor to the CMO Network on Forbes.com.

Richard Scionti, Former Global Harris Interactive CTO, joins Prophet as CIO.

Spotlight on Speaking

Change Agent Series: Transforming the Work of Marketing webinar
October 28
Join us for our first Change Agent webinar, where we showcase leading marketers sharing their transformative stories. Our featured speakers include: Kate Quinn, SVP and CMO, WellPoint; Sean Burke, CMO, GE Healthcare IT; Marianne Caponnetto, Board of Directors, Scholastic, Inc. Join us for this 60-minute webinar featuring these Change Agents on Friday, October 28 at 9am PST. They will discuss how they are combating global and industry pressures, developing marketing strategies and organizations that work, sharing best practices, and more.

35th Annual Global Conference on Product Innovation Management
November 1 — Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ
The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is a global advocate for product development, management and innovation professionals. Andy Stefanovich will be presenting at a Solution Provider Theater session and he will be having a book signing.

Marketing Communication in a Digital World
November 24-26 — Bandra (west), Mumbai
Peter Dixon, Creative Director at Prophet, will be co-presenting with Joongho Chang, Vice President, Marketing Strategy Division, Emart.


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