The T-Shirt Impact.
Today while sporting a t-shirt from a beloved podcast, another listener stopped me to chat about how much we adore it. This made me stop and think, how valuable is that t-shirt to advertisers of the podcast?
I’ll admit I finally tried a meal kit delivery service in part because I had just run into it so many times and I was out of ideas for creative meals. Its brand was everywhere: in my podcasts, my social media feeds, my mailbox, my email inbox. Why did I finally give in? Was it the 40th banner ad I’d seen or the 15th time my favorite radio hosts hawked their product?
Do Blue Apron and Hello Fresh know that my simple t-shirt contributes to the reach of their own ads, via my influence on the podcast’s viewership? Can they quantify the value in a chance interaction at preschool drop off that sparks a casual listener to also become a t-shirt wearing, evangelist for the show? (Not like I am or anything.) It’s certainly part of their marketing reality. Yet, is it even imagined in their marketing plan?
Last month, while visiting my sister and her “smart” house we tested out their Google Home by saying “Ok Google, let’s get spooky.” The lights in their house flickered, spooky music and noise consumed the space and we all had a good laugh. Ten minutes later an order for paper towels and garbage bags was shouted across the room and Google Home put in the order for delivery. Simple.
Contrast that with my “dumb” house that still requires house keys, a walk to the shops and maybe a snow shovel just to keep the paper towels stocked. How as a Marketing Guru, Product Placement Phenom or Category Management Genius do I account for these two segments of buyers?
Then your brain really starts to go nuts when you read how exponential growth, fueled by the likes of Amazon and Google, has turned Halloween into a $1b industry in Japan. I wonder how many languages were used to say “let’s get spooky” this past month?
Ok. Feels like I’m already on the path to ordering a smart device for our house. Maybe, come this holiday season, a glance at a stranger’s t-shirt will finally cinch the decision. In that case, I just hope my daughter’s 5th full sentence isn’t, “Ok Google, order more toys!”
I could go on and on here, but all of these are examples of ways the consumer is evolving and changing almost daily now.
All of this supports the articles floating around about the volatility in the marketing space. Or the fearmongering ones that shout “Death to Retail!” Let’s be real, companies, similar to football teams, don’t make drastic changes because everything is going well. The volatility of the CMO position is reflective of the volatility in the industry. The impact of a pricing dispute recently resulted in the dissolution of a 100-year business partnership, in the case of Sears and Whirlpool.
I was reading an article in Ad Age on internal vs external hires specifically in the CMO role. It focused on the change in hiring practices within the marketing department and how traditional succession plans aren’t working. It noted that “external hires represented 72 percent of all CMO appointments in the first two quarters of 2017.”
These changes are not subtle… CMOs are moving from CPG to software/website technology companies. The food industry has brought in an ad agency guru. Others are tapping Ultimate Fighting Championship executives.
Another point in the article is that for aspiring CMOs to climb upward they must change employers to move into this position. CEOs are looking for the next CMO to bring in the strategy on how to handle the evolving buyer. They dream of a CMO that can model a simple interaction around a t-shirt and accurately forecast the resulting sales. Forecasting is no longer only on the sales team, the CEO and CFO are looking to marketing to provide a forecast.
These changes don’t just apply to the CMO position. In our office, we recently hung a quote from Steve Jobs:
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Any good CMO that is hiring within their department is probably looking for a solution to their forecasting problem and someone to bring it forward. Sales forecasting since the beginning of time has relied on last year plus a percentage. Or let’s be real the majority of sales organizations forecast to plan until the end of the quarter and slowly ratchet back as the days tick down. (I’m looking pretty guilty as I type this because I’ve done it.)
But there is a better way. Human behavior forecasting can account for an ad someone hears on a podcast while perusing Facebook wearing a t-shirt on a coffee run, plus the conversations and decisions that are affected later on.
I’m inundated daily with the same ads across social media, the subway, the sponsors of a daily news email, and the logo stamped on my coffee cup. Eventually, I reach a point-of-decision when I finally make the choice based on all of the advertisements, the network I have, and the last time I interacted with the brand. All of this is unified within human behavior forecasting. This capability can be part of the solution to the forecasting problem so many companies are experiencing.
We’ve worked with several former customers that have moved to new roles and new organizations over the past few months. They’ve augmented their knowledge of the industry with the tools of human behavior forecasting to help land these new opportunities. They’ve moved from agency to brand, brand to an agency, or moved departments within a large organization to a promotion on the merit of these ideas.
Change management and socialization across an organization is the next hurtle when bringing in a new strategy, especially when the technology prescribed is the strategic decision-making tool. In a new organization, this can often be a challenge. What is the right path? Who must be involved? Who shouldn’t be involved? But that is another blog for another time.