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Learn How Forward-Thinking Marketers are Flipping the Script – And Winning

p4In the past, marketing was all about conceptualizing a brand image, projecting it on an audience through mass media, and hoping the message would stick enough to drive sales.

Clearly, that is not the world today’s marketers operate in. Few people know this better than the marketers and agency strategists who are in the trenches, pioneering new ways to keep their brands relevant amid an increasingly ad-blocked future.

As part of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA)’s ongoing webinar series, Crowdtap CEO, Sean Foster, hosted panelists from Absolut, Ricola USA and The Burns Group, a “strategically-led” creative agency, to discuss the changing tides of consumer behavior and how shifting media habits are shaking up the brand-consumer dynamic.

Here are three key takeaways from the panel discussion.

“The state of marketing is marred by a broken contract between people and brands.” – Sean Foster, CEO, Crowdtap

We all know that the “old way” of doing things isn’t working anymore. It’s crazy to think that just a few years back we were praising “disruptive” and “breakthrough” advertising experiences. Today, consumers are skipping and blocking digital ads because they are interfering with their media consumption. Put simply, people have rejected the notion that they should “pay” for content by experiencing ads.

More than 200 million people worldwide block ads and that number is rapidly growing. Per a new study, most people say they do not block ads because they don’t know how. With browsers and even carriers integrating ad-blocking into the experience, we can expect the number of ad-blockers to rise.

Solution: “It’s time to fix the contract,” says Foster. “The future of marketing is collaborative, which means marketers will partner with people and build powerful, enduring brands together.”

“Today’s marketers should be as fluent in data as they are in creativity.” – Afdhel Aziz, Director, Absolut Labs

Innovation, is a word that gets thrown around quite often in advertising circles. Some large companies are instituting an 80/20 rule in which a fifth of all budget is being allocated to emerging platforms and opportunities. Some companies, like Pernod-Ricard, are taking this notion a step further by building out internal incubators to explore what could be possible in marketing’s not-too-distant future.

Absolut Labs was created as a subunit of the Absolut brand, and its mission is to identify innovative ways for Absolut to deliver powerful consumer experiences and own conversations around nightlife technology. Some of the projects Labs has taken on include an immersive VR experience that brought a private concert to thousands of fans across the U.S., and a comprehensive study on the state of nightlife.

Solution: Absolut Labs’ director, Afdhel Aziz, suggests looking at data and creativity in tandem – “like a left eye and a right eye” – and using data to inform creativity, but never allowing the numbers to kill out-of-the-box ideas.

“Consumer insights derived from marketing can be utilized beyond the marketing function.” – Joahne Carter, VP of Marketing, Ricola USA

At Ricola, Joahne Carter, VP of Marketing, has helped change the way the privately-owned heritage brand approaches consumer insights and product innovation. Working with The Burns Group and Crowdtap, Carter and her team manage a 40,000-strong community of real people who partner with Ricola on an ongoing insights projects.

The consistent and authentic feedback loop has helped build advocacy and position Ricola as a more relevant brand. Per a recent study by Adroit Digital, the No. 1 factor driving brand relevance is whether the company is listening to consumer opinion and adapting as a result.

Solution: These iterative inputs have allowed Ricola to better understand its audience, and have also led to co-creation efforts that are extending beyond the marketing organization. Per Carter, Ricola’s product and innovation teams have also tapped into the community for inspiration, collaborative brainstorming and validation.

Succeeding in an environment in which consumers wield more control than ever before means that brands should restructure for more participatory, collaborative marketing efforts. “Think of your customers as co-architects of your brand,” said Foster – instead of treating them like passive recipients of your advertising messages.

Building on that notion, Joanne McKinney, Chief Strategy Officer at The Burns Group, says that the new contract is a “shared institution” in which people are enfranchised to join the marketing process. The Burns Group models each of its brand partnerships around this notion.

To view the full webinar, visit the WOMMA Webinar Library.

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