Mathew Sweezey is the principal of marketing insights at Salesforce. He's also a Forbes contributor, author, and creator of the Electronic Propaganda Society, a nine-part podcast series that looks at the failure and the future of marketing. Sweezey joined us on the Content Matters Podcast to talk about how marketing needs to change to deliver better experiences, including the idea of human to human marketing, the role of artificial intelligence and the evolution to context marketing.
Read on for highlights from our talk, or you can listen to the entire podcast on Apple Podcasts, Anchor and more at the link below.
From One-to-One Marketing to Human-to-Human Marketing
Don Peppers and Martha Rodgers first introduced the concept of one-to-one marketing in 1993, the idea that a brand can provide an individual experience to each customer. It’s an idea many marketers still aim for today, but things are changing; the media environment has changed. Sweezey said that we’ve moved past the idea that media is about publication to the idea that media is about engagement. What that means is that more people can create, consume, and engage with each other better than ever before and brands need to operate within this environment.
We need to move past the idea of one-to-one to what Sweezey refers to as human-to-human.
“...the difference between one to one and human to human is simple. One to One is the theory that we create one brand message and send it to one individual at one time, right? That means the brand to an individual outside of the brand. Where human to human is one human to another human; where it's not the brand, but it's two humans taking that context and having a conversation between each other, and the brand is helping facilitate that conversation. And so that's the difference. The brand is not involved. It's two humans - that could be an advocate that could be an influencer, or it could be an employee. But it's not the brand itself creating; it's one human talking to another human.”
The Role of AI in Marketing
Everyone is saying that data is the new oil, and Sweezey agrees. To best leverage that data to create better experiences you need artificial intelligence (AI). With human-to-human, there is a lot you can do without technology, but to scale it, to motivate customers across a customer journey, if you apply AI you can take this type of interaction to the next level.
“And that next level is saying, all right, we have limited resources: we have humans inside of our office and humans outside of our office through advocacy, customers, influencers. How do we maximize those efforts? When we apply artificial intelligence to that to say, who do we talk to? Who do we connect? And what do we connect them around? AI can answer those questions and direct the human capital to maximize that time and value by knowing exactly who and what to have those conversations around.”
How Human-to-Human Affects the Website
“I would argue the definition of what a brand is, is radically different now… The old definition of brand is what the business creates and tells the world it wants the world to think about it. […] The modern definition of brand is the sum of all experiences an individual has with you”
Sweezey said we need to apply this line of thinking to the website. Where a website right now is a graphical user interface of a brand experience. The website today provides a library of content about the brand, its products and services, and other information, it will transform to provide a conversational interface (think voice, chatbots) where the customer says what it wants, and the website delivers that content in some form. This type of experience is delivered via AI.
“Google now has over a billion voice-enabled devices in the marketplace, what we need to realize is consumers are finding new ways of interacting by conversation, which means the graphical user interface is going to fade away and be replaced by conversational interfaces.”
“I fully believe websites that as we know them will be gone very soon. Will there still be catalogs? Yes. There will always be catalogs, even after websites came around there were still catalogs. So, will some websites still look like catalogs? Yes. But will they be enabled by conversational interfaces? And will they use conversation to help find what they want through those catalogs? The answer is resoundingly so, they already are.”
Marketing Needs to Own the Entire Experience
The idea of human-to-human affects more than the marketing department. It also affects sales, service, support and other customer-facing aspects of a company. How does that change marketing going forward?
“That means that marketing must transition from the brand that just fills the pipeline and gets more people in, to the owner and sustainer of all experiences, right? If we believe that a brand is the sum of all experiences, it would make sense that we do that. And so, when we do that, now, we have marketing sitting on top of product, on top of service and support, not to dictate everything that they do, but only to make sure that they have a cohesive and connected experience."
Does this make the marketing department larger? Yes, but not necessarily increasing headcount in the marketing department directly, Sweezey explained. There are already people across the company in different areas that are trying to create good experiences; many of the theories are already in place. It’s just disjointed and requires central ownership.
“Our idea of what is marketing will change, then we're going to start to see marketing as more of an experience. We're going to talk about marketing more as the experience department, and what experiences and how it affects all aspects of business rather than thinking of it as just a silo and just one point.”
When we look at marketing with this new mindset, it will change how marketing works. One example Sweezey offered is marketing getting broken down and spread across departments in a company to ensure the experience is consistent.
Three Things Marketers Need to Start Doing Now
I asked Sweezey to provide three things that marketers need to start doing now to prepare for this future of marketing (which is happening right now).
Embrace a New Idea of Marketing
“You have to change the definition of what marketing is, from the department who's responsible for creating messages and pushing messages out into the marketplace, to transition that definition to the owner and sustainer or of all experiences. But that's the number one thing, that mental model shift.”
Engage with Your Customers More
"I want everyone listening to actually ask themselves this question. When was the last time you reached out to somebody that engaged with any of your content to ask them how you can make it better for the next person? Not to qualify them as a lead, but to ask them how to make this experience better. And the reality is less than 1% of marketers do this, because we rely on data such as downloads, such as open, such as clicks, as our validation for our idea. […] if we're not following up with asking what's even a good experience, we run the risk of just essentially driving more people away from our brand. So, we must think about ways of actually asking people and talking to people and stop relying on our own internal bias of what we think is good and right.”
Challenge Anything You Do
“I'd say put in place a stretch budget. And the stretch budget is a really simple concept. It's the idea that you go to your executives ahead of time, and you say all right, if we believe marketing is an investment vehicle, if we find a marketing tactic that drives a significant return, we need to have a stretch budget where we can automatically dip into it, and double down on that tactic, improve it out and expand it across the organization. That's the highest and fastest way that we grow; find a great idea, double down on it, expand it out.”
Sweezey said you need three key things in place to do this:
- Negotiate the budget upfront
- Make sure it’s put aside
- Create definitions or defined parameters around how you access this fund.
Listen to the Podcast
These are just some of the ideas and insights Sweezey shared. Listen to the full podcast to hear the entire conversation.