Interview Transcript

I want to move on to discuss technology brands, versus traditional spirits, beverage, FMCG companies and brands. How did you find a difference in the way that these brands are approaching marketing, between the likes of Uber, versus Beam, and even Coca-Cola?

They’re born so differently. Most of your tech brands are going to be 21st century brands. They are born in a very different way from manufacturer brands were born, in a 20th century production economy or 19th century, even, in the case of some of the brands that you mentioned. They approach marketing with product first. It’s not brand first; it’s product first. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We talk about, in brand building, how you are nothing without a great product. Product is everything, in tech. Knowing that and coming into that reality, respectfully, is really important for any marketer, with a more traditional legacy company background.

As such, often, you’re not at the front end of that product development. It was born in a different way from the way brands and products were born in the other companies that we are contrasting them with. You have to work with what’s been given to you, until you are able to find yourself at the front end of some of that product development. What that means is, language is different. They weren’t born based on a brand. They were born based on product. A product that might have disrupted; a product that came onto the market in such a different way, with a very different competitive context and doing a very different thing.

What I found was the strength of the analytics and the performance marketing was, certainly, stronger than the fundamentals of the brand building that I would have found elsewhere. Maybe some of the best analytics and marketing technology that you would ever encounter, as a marketer, will be in these technology companies. The other thing that I think is very important, and you are seeing this more and more, is that the ability, in technology companies, to have access to data; more data than we can, actually, even use quick enough, to makes sense of, as marketers. There’s always a little bit of a lag time between how you are able to work with what you have – often you find marketing teams playing catch up – to what the rest of the organization is able to do, because of how fast that marketplace is moving, or whatever the product may be.

The other thing that I think is extremely different is where marketing sits, in the organization. How it has been positioned; how it was born. Very often, going back to how you and I started, marketing is really only about the campaign or the brand reputation. It’s not a part of a lot of those other strategic conversations that you and I were talking about, earlier on, about brand building. I think those two worlds are going to come together, over time, but it’s going to take a while. I that’s going to be interesting, as those two worlds do meet further, because I think that so many marketers have such a place in that conversation around consumer insight and consumer needs. I don’t think those two worlds have yet come together.

Demand creation is such a big and important topic in technology brands. We use it all the time, in any company, but what it means, in a tech brand, is often different. It’s demand generated through acquisition and marketing. In brand building companies, it’s demand generated through the pull of that brand, to do that. It’s the same term used, in very different ways.

The other thing I would say that I absolutely loved about working in a technology brand is that, for decades, marketers have struggled to be able to measure everything that they do. We still can’t measure everything that we do. But now, marketing could almost measure 75% to 80% of what it does. What’s left, that 20%, is going to be some of those brand-building tactics or strategies that are going to be more subjective in their measurement. It’s an interesting time to be a marketer, because what that can do, is it can almost make the bad guy, the spend that you can’t measure. In so doing, it pushes the brand further and further to the fringe, because the hero now, is that which we can measure. I think we have to watch that cautionary tale. It’s not about more money, but it’s about understanding how those two work. You have to work very, very hard with that 80% and keep that very consistent, which is hard to do, over time, if you aren’t also turning down that other engine, albeit more subjective, spend.

It’s almost like the technology brands, not just Uber, Google, Facebook, they also a policy and regulatory responsibility now, which is part of the marketing plan. This is not just trying to market to consumers; it’s also marketing to the government or regulators. It’s more than just demand, at this stage.

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