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Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, September 26, 2016

Holiday Inn’s Ortiz Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CMO.com
Raul OrtizRaul Ortiz is marketing director for the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands in the Americas. He has oversight for the teams that develop the annual marketing plans for the brands, execute integrated marketing programs behind one big brand campaign idea, and develop long-range, demand-generating, brand-building capabilities.
Ortiz recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Building and developing advertising that adds value to consumers’ lives. Most brand and product leaders have put the consumer at the heart of their innovation strategy. Usually this is done by focusing on improving some aspect of their target’s life. Unfortunately, we are not always as disciplined when it comes to advertising, and we far too often put our needs and wants ahead of those of our audience.

2. Why is this so important?
Technology has allowed consumers to be bombarded with more advertising than ever before. When you add this to the fact that there are a plethora of brands asking consumers to buy this or that, overcoming consumer apathy toward advertising is one of the biggest challenges to marketing ROI. In order to break through to consumers and drive purchase behavior, we need to be smarter about developing creative that connects with consumers’ minds and their hearts. Technology has narrowed competitive product advantages so significantly in the past couple of decades. While striving to build continually improving product experiences, we also need to have holistic advertising that is relatable and improves the lives of our viewers/readers after experiencing it.

3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
This disciplined approach to advertising would help consumers in numerous ways. Call me idealistic, but I aspire to help create a world where commercial breaks are a source of intrigue versus a source for groans. I want to be in a world where digital advertising anticipates the needs of our guests and connects them proactively not just with a product but, ultimately, to answers to questions they have at a life level.
If we are able to meet these ideals, we are giving consumers something no product or solution can replace, and that is time. The less time they spend fretting over where they’re going on vacation or where they’ll stay for their next big business trip, the more time they have for doing things that drive the most enjoyment or productivity in their lives.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
The more we respect the time of our audiences and consumers, the more they will reward us with trial and brand loyalty. The more trial and loyalty we drive with every dollar we spend, our brands will be rewarded with improved ROI. In order for advertising to have an effect, consumers have to engage with it. As I mentioned before, consumers are flooded with advertising, which means we need to give them a reason to engage with our social posts, content marketing, or 30-second ads.
I think that our campaign for the Holiday Inn brand, “Journey to Extraordinary,” provides a great case study on the impact that heart- and mind-opening advertising can have on a business. The campaign started in 2014 as a traditional campaign, called “Change Your View,” that had the goal of informing consumers about the significant investment our franchisees have made to improve our hotels and our service. We were effective with this approach, but our creative lead at Ogilvy & Mather, Jason Aspes, challenged us to tweak our approach and have our real guests tell consumers about their Holiday Inn travel experiences and share how the brand is helping them to make travel more memorable, more productive, and ultimately more enjoyable. The change to move the campaign from the perspective of the brand to that of our guests has worked out brilliantly for the business. We have been able to build the equity attributes we are targeting and drive unaided awareness and consideration in consecutive years. We have also seen big decreases in cost per conversion in both our TV and digital buys.

Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Just one? I really love coaching my son’s soccer team, but I probably most enjoy exploring the awesome restaurant scene in Atlanta with my wife and friends.

For additional Marketing Innovator stories, click here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Sorry, We’ll Fix It" Seem To Be The Hardest Words

Article by Ernan Roman
Featured on CustomerThink.com
Sorry, we'll fix itIn speaking about the Volkswagen emissions scandal, Johns Hopkins Professor Sylvia Long-Tolbert noted, “I don’t think people will be able to understand… a company that has misled consumers and been dishonest… people aren’t going to feel very confident in buying that [brand]… People want companies to acknowledge that a problem exists.”
Brand problems will always happen. But it’s how brands respond that will make or break consumer trust. According to an Ohio State University study on the power of apology, it was noted that the most important thing you can do is admit responsibility, “Say it is your fault, that you made a mistake.” A concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. It’s different if you say ‘I’ll fix what is wrong.’
And while Mattias Mueller, the chief executive of Volkswagen did have a “2 minute conversation” with President Obama to “personally apologize to him for our behavior,” the company has not extended that same courtesy to the U.S. public. Instead, in his prepared apology remarks to the U.S. public Mueller was somewhat defensive regarding the problem stating, “it was an ethical problem? I cannot understand why you say that… We didn’t lie.”
As expected, Volkswagen’s lack of ownership of its emission problems has had a dramatic effect on sales, with March the 16th month with a drop in sales over the last past 18 months.
In contrast, IKEA, which has had problems recently with dressers that tip over, has taken the issue head on. In one of the largest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls involving over 29 Million IKEA products the company is now attempting to lead the charge in consumer safety.
U.S. IKEA President, Lars Petersson took to the airwaves to alert consumers about the issues, “You may have heard about the recall of IKEA MALM and other chests of drawers models… .At IKEA, we want to help create a better life for our customers. Part of that is helping our customers create a safe home for their families.” The company has created a campaign called, “Secure It” to educate consumers about tip over accidents.
And while this is not exactly an apology, IKEA is acknowledging the issue and offering help to consumers. It has received the backing of The American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Kids In Danger, The National Center for Health Research, Public Citizen and Shane’s Foundation.
TakeAways on Brand Problem Resolution:
1. Findings from our VoC Research indicate that consumers want immediate and honest resolution to negative experiences. Brands need to own the problem and define actions to correct the error.
2. Additionally, our VoC research indicates that there needs to be a change in company culture and thinking; from “how does this benefit us?” to “how does this benefit the customer?” If brands portray themselves as defensive or dishonest on hot-button issues, consumers will develop distrust towards the brand.
3. In the report, How to Save Brand after Crises? it was noted, “After a brand crisis, how the firm responds eventually determines the extent to which the brand can be saved… consumers have the right to determine whether to forgive the brand or not… individuals … are more likely to trust the transgressor following an apology.” But the study goes on to state that consumers can get even angrier when, “[the company does not] acknowledge its responsibility in the apology letter.”
Brand crises have enormous immediate and far-reaching implications. Rapid acknowledgement and a sincere, human apology are the determining factors as to whether consumers will ultimately forgive, and continue the brand relationship, or not.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Citi's Managing Director, Global Rewards, Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Mary HinesAs Citi’s managing director, benefits, new product development and global rewards, Mary Hines oversees the growth and development of the company’s ThankYou Rewards loyalty program, as well as the benefit offerings associated with Citi’s Branded Cards portfolio. She is also responsible for leading innovation efforts within the Branded Cards portfolio and bringing new products to market.
Hines recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.
1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
Nearly every business model on the planet is being impacted by a powerful, disruptive force: digitization. And with more consumers relying on mobile devices to interact with brands--in 2015, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults had a smartphone, up from one-third in 2011, according to the Pew Research Center--brands have no choice but to adapt or die. Adapting to the changing landscape isn’t just smart, it’s a matter of survival.
2. Why is this so important?
For Citi, leading what’s next and digitizing our model is central to our strategy. From 2014 to 2015, we saw a 25% increase in our global customer base interacting with us via mobile, and this trajectory continues. In order to remain relevant and innovate for growth, we need to ensure we’re interacting with consumers when they want and where they want, and increasingly, this is via mobile.
3. How will the customer experience be improved by this?
Through Citi’s ThankYou Rewards loyalty program, we’ve been on a journey to transform the offering so that we’re providing relevance in a digital world. We are optimizing the program for our mobile-savvy member base and enabling redemption where customers are. Our digital catalog has been mobile-optimized, and, through this, we’ve seen a twofold increase in digital engagement over the program’s analogue counterpart.
What we’ve found is that when we’re engaging customers where they want to be engaged, it’s a powerful relationship. In a study we’re about to release, nearly 90% of consumers said they are less likely to switch credit-card providers or banks when they use their credit-card rewards. So by interacting with customers where they are, we’re not only providing ease and simplicity, we’re laying the groundwork for a long-term relationship that will extend far past this mobile moment through technological innovations of the future.
4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
At the core of marketing, it’s being where customers are. However, the “where” has and will continue to shift as technology transforms at a rapid pace. And brands need to stay ahead of the game to stay in it.
Bonus: Favorite activity outside of work?
Being class parent for my son’s pre-K class—never a dull moment.
For additional Marketing Innovator stories, click here.