With new, disruptive start-up brands appearing on the digital scene with impressive regularity, marketers have been discussing the routes and challenges of digital transformation with increasing urgency. But where to start? While there are so many different fields of digital marketing available to the transforming business, it can be easy to lose track of this winding, many-forked path. Laurence Parkes, Chief Strategy Officer at Rufus Leonard, spoke to Figaro Digital ahead of his presentation at our summer marketing conference about how digital transformation is truly, inherently, a human process.
What’s currently the biggest barrier within digital transformation?
LP: There are a lot of misconceptions and preconceived notions about digital transformation, one being that it’s a purely technical challenge. The one major barrier we see time and time again is that companies fail to realise, and perhaps forget, that it’s as much about people as it is about technology. Bringing people in the organisation along with you on the journey is key to getting that internal buy-in that makes transformation a success. Without it, you’re merely disrupting and risk alienating your employees and damaging the culture, which will inadvertently impact on your brand and the experience around it.
How can marketers make their brand look and feel the part online, even with limited creative?
LP: As organisations continue to cut budgets, make savings and become more agile, the marketing department is always the first to suffer, with a “do more with less” mentality. Limited creative resource should actually counteract that by encouraging companies to think more creatively. We’ve been exploring the idea of journey mapping with our clients to ensure their brand experience truly delivers the brand promise and the interactions are true to the brand. Journey mapping is an incredible source of insight. Understanding your customer’s journey through your organisation’s available touchpoints (on and offline) will enable brands to understand the series of events and interactions that lead to a desired end-state for both your customer and your brand. Resulting from this, brands will be able to discover and organise the insights in order to identify and prioritise key improvements to their own brand experience.
What steps should marketers take to guide users from phone or physical interaction online? How can this impact cost?
LP: People are creatures of habit. We’ve become accustomed to using mobile devices as part of our day-to-day routines. The smart brands look to integrate themselves into our daily lives. Building apps that are used frequently by the customer breeds familiarity with brand engagement through this medium, lessening any frictions to the overall brand experience. If a customer wants to contact you, they are then more likely to do so via the app than phone the call centre. There is obviously an up-front cost for creating apps that have a real role in the customer’s life. However, this is invariably offset by the cost-savings to be had by automating the contact (see our work for ‘The AA’ app http://rufusleonard.com/work/aa-revitalising-the-mobile-service).
How has the recommended “channel mix” evolved over time, and how should brands looking to enhance their distribution strategy be considering these?
LP: The channel mix will continue to be more complex and fragmented as technologies evolve and the way people’s consumer behaviour changes. For example, there are fewer crowds queueing up for the January sales; instead they are drawn to the convenience of online shopping and do so via various methods, be that from the store’s online website or even an affiliate seller. According to Forbes, these omnichannel shoppers tend to shop more frequently and spend 3.5 times more than the regular shopper. The key is prioritisation, using journey mapping as your starting point to gain focus. That said, ubiquity will always be beneficial so when planning your distribution strategy, consider clever partnerships (like Amazon) to help reach new markets.
What are your top 3 questions marketers should never forget to ask potential agencies pre-partnership?
LP: Relationship is key to any partnership. Team chemistry and rapport can go a long way to adding value as agencies become consultative partners instead of purely a supplier fulfilling a marketing need. So marketers can benefit from asking potential agencies these three questions:
- How open are they to co-working teams?
- How do they ensure a profit and what barriers do they experience here? How can we ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial?
- What work from other agencies do they admire?
In a true reflection of the industry, the process of digital transformation is itself transforming, as tools, technology and best practices are developed to enhance a brand’s product offering. But by focusing on the human strengths of their team, a marketer can develop a digital product that resonates with its users and reflects the human motivation at the centre of the brand.