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Marketing Lessons From Mary Barra And Marc Pritchard

If single brand experience is one of the lessons for a new age marketing world, the second is reiterating the importance of reach

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As companies, General Motors (GM) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) are selling very different products. While they face varied challenges in achieving business targets, as marketers, their objective of connecting with the consumer, and some of the ways of doing this, are not so different.

One advice that the CEO of GM - Mary Barra, and the Global Brand Building Officer of P&G – Marc Pritchard give unanimously is that irrespective of the growth and fragmentation in media, and the presence of many different technology solutions in marketing, marketers must focus on a seamless brand experience.

Speaking at the Advertising Week New York, where they were joined in by Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook, they reiterated the importance that the mobile “revolution” is playing for all involved.

Elaborating on the “many platforms, one brand experience” philosophy, Pritchard said, “Mobile has changed the way consumers engage with platforms but we have to focus on the creative experience. It is important that irrespective the number of platforms and the ways in which we can connect with a consumer today, it all is stitched together as a one-brand experience.” Media has to be seen on the basis of how consumer behaviour is evolving.

Mass Reach
If single brand experience is one of the lessons for a new age marketing world, the second is reiterating the importance of reach.

In the automobile category, while a consumer is much more involved before making a purchase decision, and in most cases it is an emotional decision, cars are not a frequent purchase. P&G on the other hand is dealing with everyday products but these are not as high involvement.

In both scenarios, the challenge comes in identifying ways in which brands stay top of mind.

“How we tell the brand story, and on the back of that, build and maintain a relationship with consumers becomes important. We need to expose the consumer to a broader narrative that is rooted in a cohesive message,” said Barra.

Pritchard pointed out the need for mass reach, even in new media platforms, to stay top of mind. He quoted the example of Facebook to explain that when Facebook first crossed the 250-million user mark, P&G looked at the platform seriously not only as a way to connect with consumers but also in working with Facebook to give feedback on what would grow the platform into an effective marketing vehicle.

The Thumb Stopping Creative
As consumers moved to mobile, the industry saw the birth of “thumb stopping creative”. A term commonly used in the Facebook office, the marketers’ advice was to explore different ad formats but work on ways in which the message was delivered quickly and efficiently.

“There are many successful examples of companies that are making a difference and getting the advertising on platforms like Facebook right. We have seen ads that are communicating the message quickly and in very engaging ways. We are even seeing long form creative work. The opportunity however is not the longer story or the format but how the creative message is crafted for the format, to increase its efficacy,” added Sandberg.

Relationships Matter
Barra informed that in the last four years, one of GM’s core values has been in building transformational partnerships. “Relationships have always been important but in recent times, it has become more critical than ever to create winning partnerships,” she stated.

Creating joint value for consumers is another important lesson in marketing, where brands and media platforms or publishers must work together. The Facebook journey would again be an example, where the mass reach vehicle demanded an interesting advertising model. A reach tool and Facebook Genius Academy was set up for brands to learn how to work with the user or how to make video work or make platform relevant creatives.

“The question of targeting has moved from whether or not or to how many, to how specific. Deeper partnership leads to deeper measurement,” reiterated Pritchard.

Both business leaders also pointed out that while there is much conversation on the metrics that brands should measure, companies have to understand that eventually it all leads to the impact on business and business objectives including sales.

As technology meets marketing and creativity, it also makes an impact on companies in creating new age products that range from connected cars to connected tooth brush. At the end of it all however, the brand journey will still begin with the creative idea, staying true to what does the brand stands for and then communicating the products benefits and features in the most engaging story format.