By Mark Kersteen - March 18th, 2016

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To learn what’s invigorating the marketers at companies we already want to emulate, we asked them: “What companies and campaigns have inspired you to do better digital marketing?”

There’s no shortage of great marketing out there to admire, from brands both big and small. To learn what’s invigorating the marketers at companies we already want to emulate, we asked them: “What companies and campaigns have inspired you to do better digital marketing?”

Acknowledging the leaders

There are some campaigns that have made such an impact that they’ve done more than inspire marketers. They’ve left their mark on our culture, and completely shifted customer expectations for what marketing and advertising can and should do.

Andrew Strolin, Vice-President, Marketing, Nature’s Bakery: “We’re always keeping an eye out for how and where brands interact with consumers. I wouldn’t say we follow any brands in particular, but rather the industry as a whole.”

“Brands that do come to mind that we’ve watched and enjoy are Geico, Old Spice, Snickers and Dollar Shave Club that use humor to activate. We think Dove and Coca Cola’s campaigns have been brilliant. In general, they’ve done an amazing job capturing the human element and skillfully blending it into a message or call to action that resonates with the average person.”

“Their work gives us insights on how we can potentially see ourselves interacting with customers as we increase sophistication of our marketing, and look toward developing future campaigns.”

It feels like retailers have done the best job of leveraging data - Nancy Lee, Vice-President of Marketing, Intuit

Industry mainstays

However, I find some of the highest overall-quality marketing isn’t necessarily a part of the biggest campaigns. It comes from the hard work and consistency behind brands that are really in control of their industry.

Nancy Lee, Vice-President of Marketing, Intuit: “It feels like retailers have done the best job of leveraging data to provide relevant experiences for prospects and customers. Amazon and Walmart.com are huge, and LinkedIn is also doing a nice job of this.”

And some of the most interesting experiments are coming from digital-first companies, unsurprisingly.

Jessica Jensen, Head of Marketing, Facebook: “In our B2B ads space, Adobe does very high-quality, engaging digital marketing that I admire. The Hotels.com silent video work last year was brilliant— matching their message and delivery to the medium of Facebook and killing it. And the FB Friends Day personalized videos were just awesome. It was a gift from the company to people around the world. It made me proud.”

Yet, the true key to resonating with customers comes down to having a great digital experience that lines up with the in-store experience.

Domenico D’Ambrosio, Vice-President, National Channel Operations, Verizon
“A few that come to my mind is the phenomenal experience that both Starbucks, Disney and Southwest Airlines have created for their customers.”

“It’s a perfect example of how, when you get both the in-store experience right and then build a complimentary mobile/digital platform that really enhances and acts as an extension of the in-store experience, those customers become more loyal to the brand. Plus, who doesn’t like skipping the line in Starbucks in morning thanks to an app?”

Marketing with meaning

There is an undeniable magic to combining a genuine cause and brand purpose with every step of the customer journey.

JP Kuehlwein, Partner at Ueber-Brands and co-author of 'Rethinking Prestige Branding - Secrets of the Ueber-Brands':

“I love how some purpose-driven brands like Patagonia are leveraging an ever-richer portfolio of digital and media platforms, and integrating with them more smoothly to tell a holistic and emotional story about their brand. Consumers can ‘access’ Patagonia from multiple angles - on their own terms - but the total ‘Gestalt’ of the brand is always consistent, and the experiences provided build on each other.”

“I might simply be shopping on the Patagonia e-store. Or the rich community-generated ‘stories we wear’ on the ‘Worn Wear’ blog might have pulled me in. Their ‘Common Thread’ micro-site provides in-depth tracking and reporting on the sourcing and carbon footprint of their items, which activist-influencers might seek out, or consumers might come across by researching those items, scanning a QR code in a Patagonia print ad, catalogue or in-store.”

“Customers discover Patagonia’s responsible approach to manufacturing, their rich and meaningful heritage, and the activism behind their brand. With each experience, they feel more like they’re ‘contributing’ to one of the many Patagonia sponsored causes rather than simply buying an item.”

There’s no such thing as digital marketing. - Ryan Lauder, Director, Consumer Engagement, Taylormade

The funnel is dead

And for a final word, here’s a great summary from Ryan Lauder on how to approach your marketing strategy in a new, and not-so-new, landscape.

Ryan Lauder, Director, Consumer Engagement, Taylormade: “There’s no such thing as digital marketing. It’s just marketing. Any company who realizes this and lives this ethos through their campaigns will inspire their people and agency partners to become truly effective marketers. The funnel is dead. Just figure out how to turn your purchasers into advocates.”

You'll be able to learn from Andrew, Ryan, Nancy, Jessica, Eric, Domenico, and JP in person at the upcoming Incite Summit: West.

The Incite Marketing Summit: West 2016

May 2016, San Francisco

The Incite Summit: West is the USA's best brand-focused marketing conference. Taking place in San Francisco on 18th and 19th of May, we will bring together Chief Marketing Officers from major brands to debate one key issue. How you can get a more granular picture of your customer and then engage in "one-to-one marketing". We'll focus on perception, precision and personalization.

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