Marketing in the Age of Consolidation 

  • Oct 2, 2016

[This article originally appeared onMediapost

Thank you, Andrew. 

Written by

Andrew B. Solmssen

Companies merge—it happens. And when it does, we typically get a lot of cheery press releases touting the improved efficiency and strength of the new brand portfolio. Much less discussed (and consequently lower on the list of priorities) is what to do with all of the digital marketing properties that are suddenly living under one roof. 

No matter how great a merger is for a company, it’s always a mess for the marketing and IT departments. Every digital property a brand owns needs to be thoroughly audited, from campaign pages to mobile apps—even presences on chatbots. Invariably, we find big mismatches in technologies, content types, and even the tone and design of imagery. No two brands ever make the same decision about how to spend their money and where to focus. As a result, you end up with everything from state-of-the-art commerce platforms to Flash microsites that haven’t been updated since the second Bush administration. 

Unfortunately, this leaves you with two choices, neither of which is 100% wonderful. The first is to stick with the legacy systems and maintain them independently. Because this option costs less money (and certainly less work) in the short run, many companies end up making this choice. 

The second is to solve the problem permanently: to make a blanket technology decision and adopt an enterprise platform that serves all brands together. If you want to see what this looks like in practice, start on the brands overview page of P&G or, then follow the links to the different brands. If you ignore the content, you’ll see the pages themselves have a lot of structural similarity. Menus and carousels tend to be in the same places; overall formatting looks similar, and yet, each is perfectly able to support the unique identity of its brand. 

Different priorities mean different levels of uniformity or variety, but the most sophisticated enterprise systems achieve scale by creating a set of themes, templates, and content. 

A theme is a collection of templates for a particular type of site or page, such as brand discovery or commerce. A template is a layout designed for a particular purpose, such as a product page or search results. And a feature is an item that sits inside a page, like a video player or quiz interface. Once you create all these things, they serve as reusable building blocks that allow you to efficiently construct a large number of websites and other properties for your brands. Needless to say, this also makes it easy to add new brands to your system and support additional mergers. 

Of course, adopting an overarching enterprise solution is certainly not as easy in the near term as leaving everything as it is. Commitments are scary, and you’ll need to make sure that your CTO and CMO can get on the same page to make the right choice. But once you do, the benefits are numerous: 

Unified data. This one advantage is reason enough to go enterprise. While data is critical for every company, it’s even more important when you manage multiple brands. With a single platform, you can compare metrics across individual sites and look for patterns of users who visit multiple brands. That way you’ll get a richer information set about your customers and unlock cross-marketing opportunities as well.  

Better creative. You might think an enterprise system reduces creativity, but having a library of features means you can implement functionality easily. Rather than reinventing the wheel, you can devote more energy to coming up with better ideas and new ways to drive traffic to the platform. 

Efficiency. With a template-based system, you merely have to build functionality once and then can adapt it to a suite of properties. A store locator widget, for example, can be rolled out across brands with minimal investment. 

Reduced longterm costs. Maintaining legacy systems usually means dealing with different technologies. As a result, you’ll have to manage multiple teams, often across different locations. With a single set of technologies you can significantly reduce the number of people who keep everything running and focus your investment on improving the experience and features of the site. 

Relevance. Increasingly, owned digital marketing properties need to integrate with other technologies. If you can’t interoperate easily with ad tech, social platforms, distribution networks, and so on, you’re more likely to get disrupted and disintermediated. In addition, unifying your digital presence can provide a big lift in search authority and cross linking. 

Stability. This may seem surprising, but it’s not. Legacy systems are often more broken than they appear. Under the microscope, they usually demonstrate that they are not just old, but non-functioning—with broken links, pages that appear strange on certain devices, and sign-up processes that get stuck in the middle. A single, new, enterprise system eliminates this problem and stays up to date as you move forward. Imagine the difference of only having one server that can go down. 

In other words, while it may seem easier to kick the can down the road, you’re simply buying yourself more work, less data, and less flexibility in the future. The most forward-thinking companies realize that the sooner you bite the bullet and choose an enterprise platform, the better.

Medium Insights, Pricepoints! Concurs PostThere is no “technology industry”

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What is Transformational Agility?

via What is transformational agility


Marketers are adding to or overhauling their technology stacks, media and channels have proliferated and people and processes have had to adapt.

This is the root of the need for digital transformation.

But is the talk of agile change just lip service? What is it? And what are its benefits?

Off the back of roundtable discussions at our Digital Cream events, we write up trends reports detailing current obsessions within a particular discipline.

Last week we published People and Process: Agile working, collaborative tools, social enterprise and cloud-based marketing tech, in association with censhare.

A big title for a burgeoning issue in digital.

Phil Arnold, censhare UK MD, sums up the mood of the discussions around this nebulous topic:

Some [companies] are more advanced than others, having broken from functional silos to implement an integrated marketing approach and using processes and tools to improve their collaboration, agility and transparency.

However many are still frustrated by a lack of digital ‘buy-in’ from senior management or a fear factor engendered by lack of skills or education.

In short, the balance of people, process, tech and culture is a difficult one to strike.

Here is some of what delegates had to say.

How are businesses defining agile?

A move to social business

Social business is the engagement of the customer in product development and the company as a whole. This helps to drive change and customer satisfaction.

Agile with a capital A (not waterfall)

Agile in the project management sense differs from waterfall’s very linear approach to the stages of software development (conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment).

Agile sees incremental development stages with testing and market response occurring throughout the process.


Using new communications technologies

Increasing the use of social and digital technology to support the flow of information in and out of the business and also around the business.

This could be using Slack to enable collaboration between teams, or Facebook Messenger to serve customers.


More bottom-up approaches to the business

More input from staff who work closer to the customer via rapid, concise weekly meetings. As opposed to the HIPPO effect (highest paid person’s opinion).

Working with greater efficiency

Working quicker and in a more efficient manner. This isn’t magic, but has to be engendered by empowering staff and changing processes and personnel.

What are the benefits of transformational agility?

Competitive advantage

To be at the forefront in order to stand out from the competition. This differentiation is often more than simply customer-facing factors.

Companies often seek to recruit the most talented staff, by promoting progressive values and investment in digital.

Rationalising of costs

Digital transformation as a way to save money and to cut down on wastage. For example, moving a publication online.

Making products hit the market sooner

Measuring in weeks and not months.


Business understanding

Teams which were once siloed are increasingly working together.

Weekly catch-ups bring staff together and give people a more comprehensive/top-level understanding of what the business is up to.


Marketing and PR teams have the freedom to be more responsive and spontaneous.

This is ideal for jumping on trends and industry news.

Entrepreneurial behaviour

Teams have a clearer idea of who is responsible for what.

Developers have increased scope, which allows BAU to be more impactful on customer experience and product development.


Education = satisfaction

Education about new channels and other areas of the business leads to higher job satisfaction.

Newly gained skills improve efficiencies within the business but also expand individual job roles. Staff want progression.

More satisfied customers

With more channels open, and more time dedicated to hearing from customers, companies are delivering more.

Customers are in turn more satisfied, more engaged and more likely to provide repeat business.

Smart Jobs ENTP

BCG Perspectives 

Check out @bcgperspectives’s Tweet:


CMO’s Top Technology Investments 2016

PSFK Future of Retail 2016 Summary by Digital Intelligence Today


Shopper Experience

Here’s a speed summary and embed of PSFK’s latest report on the Future of Retail 2016, with 10 practical recommendations (with examples) for designing a new shopper experience that will build value, drive sales and boost loyalty.

There’s some good practical thinking in there with some stimulating examples. Psychologically, recommendations #1, #2 and #10 are particularly strong.

Enhancing Purchase Path

1. CREATE CONFIDENCE – Providing shoppers with the tools and advice to help them discover new products  and choose the option best suited to their lifestyles and need (product immersion + guided recommendations). Examples: @Sephora online matching service for ideal perfume, @ThePirch tryvertising

2. ELIMINATE OBSTACLES – Saving customers time and effort (#ConvenienceTech) along the purchase path through streamlined technology and services (1-click transactions, shop ahead, purchase anywhere platforms). Examples: @Starbucks order ahead on smartphone, @Macys scan garments on the rack to get them delivered them to the fitting room, @MikMakTV shoppable videos

Building Better Relationships

3. DEMOCRATIZE ACCESS – Opening the door for consumers to take advantage of services and experiences that were previously too exclusive or expensive (customer concierges, aspirational experiences). Examples: @StichFix affordable personal shopper, @RebeccaMinkoff VR fashion show

4. RECOGNIZE & PERSONALIZE – Putting systems in place for remembering and acting on the purchase history and preferences of customers, and tailoring those experiences over time (360-degree service, predictive assistance). Examples: @Walgreens pharmacy app anticipates needs (e.g. Rx refills), @modaoperandi instore CRM for high-touch store service

5. PROMOTE TRANSPARENCY – Being upfront with consumers about the policies and processes that underlie the products and services that they’re buying into (reciprocal relationships, storied products). Examples: @Waitrose loyalty scheme allows members to pick their own deals. @Amazon Elements product line allows customers to track items from creation to expiration

Creating a Valuable Community

6. PERFECT PARTNERSHIPS – Creating additional value for customers by collaborating with like-minded companies to deliver expanded offerings (cross-channel rewards, additive experiences). Examples: @Gap + @VirginHotels – order from Gap, get delivered to hotel room in 3hrs, @Instacart + @AllRecipes 1-click ordering and delivery of ingrediants

7. OPTIMIZE OWNERSHIP – Building a responsive support network that provides expert service and educates consumers after a purchase is made (Cultivated expertise, always-on support). @Patagona – Apparel mending bus tours country, @goEnjoy hand deliver electronics for personalised set-up

8. CULTIVATE COMMUNITY – Creating opportunities for consumers and fans to come together around the halo of a brand to build value on top of existing products and services (cultural hubs, collaborative marketplaces). Examples: @bjornborg underwear launches dating app based on fitness, @audi Unite co-leasing program lets drivers share benefits of ownership at reduced cost

Elevating the Top Tier

9. ENCOURAGE ADVOCACY – Tapping consumers for their knowledge and feedback to create opportunities for them to advocate on your behalf (hopper-led exchange, crowd buy-in). Examples: @Sony First Flight crowdfunded platform allows brands to test future products, @chevrolet allows prospective buyers to talk to existing owners

10. DELIVER DELIGHT – Providing unexpected perks and promotions that re-energize existing relationships and build on the broader brand promise (insider exclusives). Examples: @kennethcole invites allows shoppers to text to open a store whenever they want, @nike runs invite-only experiences for influencers

Speed Summary: PSFK Future of Retail 2016 Report

via Digital Intelligence Today

Thank you Dr. Paul Marsden


CMOs Tell Us How Their Businesses Will Grow (Infographic)

Why Social Media Chat Bots Are the Future of Communication

Thank you Jan Rezab, Founder & Chairman of Socialbakers

This Quick Mental Exercise Will Bring You Immediate Clarity & Motivation on Medium.

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