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Experience is Key, and Other Insights from Merkle Summit 2019

Here’s to another great Merkle Summit, an event for visionary marketers, with actionable takeaways and industry trends that define the modern marketing landscape. Here’s a summary of the key messages and amazing success stories that followed. Hearing from some of the best brands in the world was an inspiration to those on the road to delivering people-based marketing.

 It’s no secret that today’s customers need an engaging and personal experience to capture their attention. In fact, as we learned from Antonio Sciuto from Salesforce on Tuesday, the average attention span of Gen Z is 8 seconds. For marketers, that sounds terrifying, right? Maybe so, but as we learned in Craig Dempster’s kick-off session, the way to create competitive advantage is by meeting and exceeding customer’s expectations right out of the gate. In fact, the difference between billions and bankruptcy is by doing just that. The largest companies in the world (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, for example) are doing it quickly and efficiently by using relevant first-party data, integrated tech, and real identity to create unique, personalized experiences that are relevant to each customer.

Today, brands don’t compete with other brands, rather they compete with culture and how customers use their time. For example, Craig shared that 250 million people are dedicating an average of 6-10 hours per week playing Fortnite. Customer content consumption habits are shifting as well. Thirty-three million US TV viewers have cut the cord, 24% of the US population has installed ad blockers, and 84% of millennials take the time to look through their email. I can vouch for that.

Because of these shifts in attention, customer’s fluctuating expectations and preferences are driving the way that brands innovate. A great example would be Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s who aren’t taking market share from the big guys like Gillette but instead are making a new segment for customers that prefer buying an experience along with the product.

Digital transformation: Working together to succeed

Business today requires that we put customers at the center to fulfill their needs first, not push products on them. For Canon, this meant shifting from a product-centric organization to a data-driven, customer-centric organization. That required ground-up reorganization of the 82-year-old business. We heard from Rita Dubey and Michael Lebron on what that turn around looked like for them. First, they had to develop their ‘north star’ and decide what they wanted to accomplish.

Canon had to define internal roles, build partnership to fill any gaps, and break the silos that existed between IT and the rest of the business. This required a change in their relational mindset from ‘IT vs. business to ‘IT and business’ working together. Digital transformation closes the gap between where you are with business, technology, and what’s possible to deliver the most value to your customers.Canon at Merkle Summit

Sharing is caring: Streamline your team

We also heard an awesome transformation story from Dore Murphy from Samsung. Samsung’s services, such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, Samsung Bixby and the Galaxy store used to all be managed by separate marketing teams within the company. Along with these siloed teams, external agencies were hired for each service, creating overlap and a lack of shared insights and data. They quickly realized that this was not working, so a centralized marketing team to work across all the services, and decided to partner with one agency, HelloWorld, a Merkle Company to take the lead. The new model was a major success, gaining stakeholder alignment, better team communication, shared assets, and 130% of their revenue goal.

Bringing it all together

In short, David Williams, CEO of Merkle and Chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network, wrapped up Summit by sharing the key themes of people-based marketing today:

  • Identity is the new currency of customer experience. If we can’t identify our customer at scale, we are at a major disadvantage
  • Personalized product and service experiences are at the heart of competitive advantage
  • Customer insights, data, analytics, and AI have become critical ‘path’ skills
  • Tech enablement should be at the heart of our marketing, advertising, and customer experience strategies
  • Integration and organizational effectiveness are now critical constraints of business

This year’s Summit was another great example of why people-based marketing is imperative to reaching today’s customer. Want to learn more? Download our 2019 Marketing Imperatives here.