June 2006 •
© World Advertising Research Center 2006
long run to customers – and to the stabilityof the business – is a superior product orservice delivery. Here, marketing mustshow its prowess in understanding andleveraging its knowledge of the customerand what motivates the customer’s rela-tionship with the brand. It’s marketing thatbrings the insights that must be leveragedacross the customer touchpoints – whetherthey are owned by the sales team, customerservice or business operations – to ensurethe business attains and maintains its supe-riority.Virgin, one of Britain’s most respectedbrands, more than gets this, having builtitself into more than 200 entities – from thewell-known airline to women’s lingerie –on an outstanding reputation for customerservice and satisfaction.More than anything, it considers itself inthe ‘experience’ business. It delivers, almostflawlessly, by keeping a close pulse on itscustomers and responding to their tastesand needs with offers that, at once, offervalue, are of good quality, are usually incred-ibly creative, and just plain fun.For example, in a bid to distinguish itsUK/US flights on more than the typicalbasis of price and schedule, Virgin Atlantic,last year, started naming certain flights toplay up exclusive customer experiences. ItsMiami to London flight, ‘The TranceAtlantic’, boasts seats that become flat beds,massage, and a shower and a shave uponlanding in the ‘revival lounge’ – capped by afree limousine service. This is supported bymore traditional marketing initiatives, likeprint ads, cab toppers and billboardsBut, as Virgin recognises, the cleverestcampaigns, conducted at any touchpoint,are not sufficient, in and of themselves, toset the standards for a brand’s superiority. If the organisation isn’t prepared to equipemployees at every level to get not onlywhat the brand stands for but what’srequired of them to uphold it, it’s all forclaimed a permanent seat there (for example,had an ongoing role as decision-maker). Smallwonder, then, that while fully 99% rankedthe effective integration of business, brandand marketing strategies as critical to drivingbusiness growth, only 11% said their organi-sations had achieved this successfully (seeTables 1 and 2).
Addressing key challenges willhelp bridge gaps
What’s telling in the survey results is mar-keters’ recognition of today’s newcustomer-centric order, where a strongbrand – one that is critical to businessgrowth – is built as much or more on thecustomer’s actual experiences with a brandas it is with messaging around it. None of this negates the need for the traditionalcommunication tactics or strategies. It justmakes it even more imperative that mar-keting adjusts its approaches for the times,working closely with non-marketingtouchpoints to ensure that the customer’srelationship with the brand remains solid.Increasingly, this means that for market-ing to seize upon and make the most of theopportunities this environment presents, itmust maintain an underlying focus onaddressing three challenges to its ultimatesuccess: maintaining market superiority;doing more with less; and managingincreasingly complex customer touch-points.
The superiority factor
Face it: it’s a jungle out there. Whether it’sestablished businesses flexing their mus-cles or newcomers intent on grabbing theirshare of the pie, there’s always someone try-ing to chip away at your base with flashiermessaging and more aggressive spending.And on the other side of the coin are con-sumers, savvier than ever about theirpurchasing options in the face of theexploding range of information channels,and more inclined than ever before to seekout the best deal.Standing out is the issue, and it must beon a more substantial basis than messagingor price. What’s more meaningful in the
is a seniorpartner of Prophet(www.prophet.com), aleading consulting firmspecialising in theintegration of brand,business and marketingstrategies.
Very/Below average/moderatelynot successfulsuccessful
Board/executive team91%9%Sales force88%12%Finance83%17%Human resources79%21%Information technology76% 24%
Key to influence is collaboration
Most criticalMarketer playsaspectno role
Business strategy19%12%Customer service16%33%Customer experience15%18%Sales force11%45%Marketing strategy10% 2%Product development7%23%Pricing5%43%Distribution4%41%Brand strategy3%12%Brand portfolio strategy3%17%
Marketers don’t influence right levers