The CMO Show: Philip Otley on the customer experience reel

by Megan Wright

Customers. In today’s data-driven world they seem somewhat mystical and elusive. So what’s the best way to attract new customers? And how can you use branded content to connect with existing customers at multiple touch points? 

This week on The CMO Show, Mark and JV delve deep into the world of branded content when they’re joined by Philip Otley, a partner at PwC’s Experience Centre in Sydney. Philip shares insight into the world of branded content, bringing his 20 years of experience in the marketing industry to talk about the importance of emotional connections with customers, the rise of data-driven marketing and how creativity still thrives.

“Back in the golden age of advertising, there was a cultural monopoly where a small number of channels would actually determine what you would be seeing,” Philip told Mark and JV. “Yet the challenge now is we still need to pull those emotional strings but the volume, the number of channels, the competition within content, the amount of user-generated content is much, much higher.”

Tune in to hear more of Philip’s thoughts on how branded content and emotional engagement could help you increase customer retention…

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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Megan Wright

Audio Engineer – Jonny McNee

Design Manager – Daniel Marr

Graphic Designer – Chris Gresham-Britt

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO ShowWe’d love to hear from you: cmoshow@filteredmedia.com.au.

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Transcript:

Participants:

Mark Jones (MJ)
Jeanne-Vida Douglas (JVD)
Philip Otley (PO)

JV:                 Welcome to the CMO Show. Today we’re joined by Philip Otley, a partner at PwC’s Experience Centre in Sydney.

Philip:              Yeah, sure. The Experience Centres in Australia are a part of a global – 20-plus Experience Centres within PwC and it’s where we are trying to bring together the ingredients to accelerate digital outcomes. So it’s where we put all of our edgy bits and we may have a behavioural economist next to a technology hacker next to a data scientist, a strategist, a creative. We use agile delivery and design thinking as its fundamental building blocks. But we’re really there to say, “Let’s make something. Let’s make it at speed. Let’s test things out. Let’s work with clients to actually get them at a greater velocity, particularly anything digital.”

Mark:              And how is it different to other organisations, because that type of environment that you’ve described is actually a pretty big thing in terms of investment for large corporations all over the world.

Philip:              Yeah. I think it’s part of a trend and it’s – part of the thing that’s driving that is understanding that we’re in a world now where consumers or patients or citizens are reacting to every part of the experience so if you’re making bold claims, you know, in above the line that can’t be backed up in experience at every touchpoint, you’re going to come a cropper. So just about every professional services major is doing some – this sort of thing, agencies are doing these sort of thing. Increasingly clients are putting these hubs in – so we’re helping them put the hubs inside. Some of the differences are, you know, I can get some weird and wonderful policy and economics folks or deep industry skills that, you know, gives a bit of an advantage, right? If we’re having a discussion about Fintech, you know, I’ll have guys with banking regulation experience going back 20 years. So it helps a lot but anybody can do it. You just need to have the will to pull together these ingredients.

Mark:              So yeah, so like all things it’s about the people and the ideas and the environment that you create that allows you to do something.

Philip:              Absolutely.

JV:                  But also I think it’s really fascinating what has happened to brand because brand used to be something that was a pretty picture that was tacked on at the end, you know, you had to control those broadcast mechanisms and where brand was enunciated. Now brand is at every single touchpoint all the way along the chain and the role of brand managers has changed fundamentally. Now you’ve got a long background in brand and brand management, tell me how your role has changed over the last say decade.

Philip:              Yeah, look, it’s interesting. I think good brands have always known that. So, so my very first job out of university was for, you know, for a small computer company called IBM and I, and I was sent to, you know, to sell as account management for IBM. But I had a brand that was carrying me through there that stood for a lot of things and, and it went through the behaviours of IBM with clients at every touchpoint, you know, you never got fired for buying IBM was sort of the- what the marketing folks were aiming to create for the sales folks to pull it through. But that’s not a tagline. That’s not just advertising copy, you know, it permeated every behaviour, never letting clients down and all the rest of it and, and eventually it needs to evolve, right, but that’s the sort of – I’d say great brands have always had that sense of purpose. They create brand as the north star to drive all behaviour through the organisation. What we’ve got to now is those brands who could get away with putting a little bit of their marketing or brand comms lipstick on things, it’s that, it’s no longer working as we’re in a very much more transparent world, you know…

Mark:              And that’s been the big challenge for marketers, you know, for quite some time now, hasn’t it? What’s, what’s different about how you’re seeing it? What’s the, the attitude that’s, that’s, you know, really changed in terms of – is there a focus on really fixing this or really making sure we understand it? What’s the, the driver, you know what I mean?

Philip:              Yeah, I know what you mean. I wish there was. I wish there was a consistent focus on fixing it because a lot of the time there’s a focus on, “There’s so many things happening. What can we do this week just to look like we’re in front of the game?” so it’s a little bit short-term…

Mark:              Stay busy.

JV:                  Yeah. [Laughs]

Philip:              Stay busy. Yes, tick a box, right…

JV:                  Carry a broom!

Philip:              …and so yeah. I guess a couple of observations – in knowing that brand is now driven primarily through experience, right? Experience across all your touch points and the mechanism for amplification is often social and it comes back. So if you have a great experience with a brand and you turned in, you turn into being very emotionally engaged with the brand, not only are you going to be far more valuable, and it’s far, far more valuable, you know, according to just about every study, but the amplification effect of you advocating is, is far greater and I think that’s, that’s one thing that brand owners and marketeers have recognised, that we’re still, we’re still collectively struggling to say, “How do we execute against that? How do we get marketing to take the lead in saying, “The emotional connections we’re trying to make with our target audience, whether that’s B to B, B to C are X, Y and Z, you know, we want to anchor on an underlying, underlying emotion of uh, “We’re going to help you with a sense of wellbeing” or “We’re going to help you with the, you know, the feeling of freedom” or one of these underlying things and then being able to, you know, execute the, have the whole organisation, you know, anchor on that rather than just a tagline.

Mark:              So one of the reasons we wanted to talk to you was this concept which you’re alluding to, a branded content and how that’s going but I think you raise a really interesting point around emotion and the ability for emotion to change a buyer perception and they’re not therefore an action so, you know, a potential customer will actually go and buy something because they’re so emotionally moved by a product. This has been the, the marketing story forever and the challenge now for branded content is to take on that challenge but as we all know, there is great execution and there’s bad execution. So just give us your perspective on that connection point between emotion and branded content and how you sort of see it going and I guess maybe we can drill in…

Philip:              We can drill in… yeah.

Mark:              [Laughs] Probably for the next four hours. [Laughs]

Philip:              So, so we, we all know great content when we see it or we think we know and actually it probably means that you’re getting some emotional strings pulled by certain branded content and I’m, I’m getting…

JV:                  It’s connecting, yeah.

Philip:              I’m getting different strings pulled by different content. Back in the golden age of advertising, there was sort of a cultural monopoly where a small number of channels would actually determine what you, all three of us would be seeing, yet the challenge now is we still need to pull those emotional strings but the volume, you know, the number of channels, the competition within content, self-user generated content, microhumidities is much, much higher. So I, the, if you go across just about any category, having an emotional connec – you know, buyers who have an emotional connection with a particular brand for whatever the underlying emotional reasons are generate disproportionate value. That’s proven across category. Even, even housecleaning, right?

JV:                  Yeah.

Philip:              I don’t know if you saw the, you know, or washing – Ariel’s recent advertisements in India, you know, the story-telling around share the load, where you’ve got the…

JV:                  Oh, where you…

Philip:              …the father and the…

JV:                  Yeah, he does the washing, yeah.

Philip:              …working mother’s doing everything and he’s writing a letter to his daughter sort of saying, “I was brought up like that but, you know, I’m sorry I brought you up like that and now I, you know, even though I’m old I’m going to share the load.” It’s taking a lot of…

JV:                  It’s a beautiful ad and you actually see the, the father of the working mother coming into the house and doing the washing for her and showing his grandson – I’m crying just thinking about it.

Philip:              [Laughs]

JV:                  This is terrible, and showing his grandson how to behave and how to share the load. Yeah, it’s beautiful.

Mark:              I like the tagline.

JV:                  Mm, mm, mm. It’s very, it’s very, very clever, yeah.

Mark:              It appeals to my dad joke actually, share the load. It’s almost too cheesy.

Philip:              Yeah, yeah. Cheesy still survives and, and yet, you know, the researchers would probably track at least within certain audiences, there’s this thing around being the person I want to be, which is the underlying…

JV:                  That’s cognitive dissonance, yeah? That’s been around…

Philip:              …yeah, underlying emotion. It’s not, “I want clean clothes.” I mean, that’s, that’s, pun fully intended, that’s a hygiene factor, right? But you’re associating it with something that’s a little bit more deeply felt as an emotional, emotional thing and it’s uh, you know, “Do the right thing, be the – I can be the person I want to be through association with your product.”

Mark:              So it’s an aspirational aspect of that?

Philip:              Absolutely.

JV:                  But’s it’s also…

Philip:              Take, touch, touching into aspirations or removal of fears, right? So helping me feel secure, really secure or helping me and my family feel really secure is an underlying emotional driver that dials up much more strongly in some categories and in some, some buying points than others. So if I’m going into a banking product, let’s just say I’m a young couple and I’m going for my first, you know, first mortgage. You know it’s a big investment. At the early stages of that journey, dialling up on making me feel secure around that decision works and it just, you know, time and time again we’ve been able to get the evidence that that works. After I’d made that decision and I’ve had one or two more products from the bank and I’m a little bit more mature, helping me create a sense of a vibrant future works a lot stronger, all right? So I’m the same person but you as a brand will have different, much greater effectiveness if you’re tagging different emotional strings at different stages of the journey.

Mark:              Yeah. There’s this sense that you want them to know – you want to know that they get you.

Philip:              Yeah.

Mark:              That they know what your drivers are and we’re also cynical at the same time, right?

Philip:              Increasingly, increasingly. So it’s not getting any easier, right? But what’s changed? I mean, you know, thankfully all the stuff that’s changed in consumer-land with the internet, you know, the rate of change and the innovations that are coming through, there’s similar stuff that’s helping marketeers listen better and respond better. So, you know, three years ago, well actually that’s a thing, when I was doing mark, line marketing, we would listen to customers buy brand trackers, focus groups, occasionally we’d chuck out for quantitative research if we really needed to get some discrete choice modelling going on a particular decision set, right? And what does that give you? It gives you at best a very small sample size listening. It’s normally lagging an event so if I’ve done a product launch, I normally get the results months later, don’t really, you know, can’t really act on them. It’s loose in terms of a relation to a specific stimulus, right? What can I do now as a brand owner or a marketeer? I can turn on natural language, process listening 24/7 real time across every channel.

Mark:              Theoretically though, because they talk about in Martech-land the stack, right? So you can go and get all of these different stacks put together or one stack, and it’s got all the tools and you’ve got this and you’ve got that and I’ve connected up all my different vendors across the CRM and all your layers, right? So distribution, analytics and so on and then you’ve actually got to make it work…

Philip:              Yes.

Mark:              …and then you’ve got to get a data point out of it that actually means something to your business and once you’ve got your data point out of that, then you’ve got to get agreement internally that we’re happy with that data point, because we’re probably still arguing about whether the stack worked or not and then you’ve actually got to get the creatives to give you an idea that maps against I guess the point of your data, right? So the data says we need to get more customers in this segment and they’ve got to have these feelings and they’ve got to buy these things but you’ve actually then got to get your creatives to agree to sort of essentially have that as an outcome.

Philip:              You’ve just solved the problem.

JV:               [Laughs]

Philip:              You’ve actually just stated exactly what the problem is and it is you’ve got a whole bunch more ways of pulling insight, of creating insight whereas in the past a lot of it was we relied on intuition, right? Or opinion or whatever. Now there’s lots of data that’s floating around and the old saying, you know, “If I torture data hard enough, I’ll get the answer I want”, right? So there is a lot more around. There are also though, there are a lot more tools in terms of machine learning, artificial intelligence, you know, dynamic clustering to actually do it properly and if you’ve got statisticians who are around, you can start to work out what your, what your, you know, evidence errors are and all the rest of it. So there’s no excuse to say, “Well, there’s just too much. I can’t deal with it.” We know we have to go down that path.

Mark:              Mm. You spend enough time figuring it out.

Philip:              And that’s a, that’s a discipline path. Where I sort of emphasise it is that’s not – it’s necessary but not sufficient, right? That’s the discipline part. The creativity part is still what gets you to cut through. It still allows you, allows you to make that emotional connection. So if, it really is about getting the creativity and discipline to work hand-in-hand. But a creative who’s given a great creative brief is a very happy creative. The creative who’s given a woolly brief saying, “I don’t really have an audience in mind. I want you to put lipstick on a pig and I want it in pink”, you know, it doesn’t really – that’s not a great creative brief and every creative is pulling their hairs out. If you can say, “Listen, I’m not trying to hit the whole audience. I’ve got these three microsegments in mind, right? I want to hit them at this stage of a brand journey or, or a buying, a buying journey…” Let’s keep funnels out of it for a while, “…and I want you to dial up on these emotional connections” so this, you know, for example, a sense of freedom. You still give a creative enormous latitude to be brilliant and you don’t, you know, you don’t say, “It’s only got to be for these channels” yet you might say, “Mobile first” or you may say, “Social first.” You certainly will say, “Don’t make it one big swing with one idea”, that will either work or not, you know, “Take a thousand smaller swings and, you know, you’ll – and iterate and get better.” But a creative who’s working in that environment will normally be very happy.

Mark:              Now that we understand the creative Utopia, [Laughs], how do you actually get there? It’s not – this is so hard. Honestly, we talk to people, this is, this dynamic is just the biggest mountain.

JV:                  But you know, one of the things that I’m thinking about while you’re talking here is the – fundamentally what you’re talking about is a shift from talking to listening, so marketers used to talk to people. Now in order to be effective, they need to find an effective way to listen to people and to, and to be there with an idea when it is entirely relevant to them and, and that’s just this kind of complete listening approach that you, you champion. Can you, can you describe that a little more deeply?

Mark:              So that’s two questions you have to answer at once.

Philip:              [Laughs] And I’m sure there will be more, right? So complete listening, think of it in terms of I’m in this Utopian approach. I’m in the background and I’m picking up a signal and that signal might come from transactional data that you throw off. It might come from social media commentary or likes. It might come from viewing behaviour. It might come from your physical movement through space and time, right? All of those can throw off signals that can be useful and particularly allow a marketeer not to spam me with irrelevant, insistent, disrespectful, you know, content. So the trade-off there is, “Look, I throw this stuff off anyway. I’m not going to get, if, particularly if I’m a millennial, I’m not going to get too precious about, you know, about privacy here if I’m responded to respectfully.” If you can interject in my process with something of value at the right time, I will respect your brand, right? So if you’re, if you can see that I’ve gone to a website three times and just blocked, you know, dropped out at that point and the fourth time you pop up a little chat room saying, “Philip, we see you’ve had a few problems here” [Laughs], “Come on fellow, this is your fourth time. Do you want a hand?” “Oh, okay.” That’s, that’s respectful…

Mark:              So that speaks to adding value.

Philip               …listening, right? So that’s, that’s part of what we talk about on the sort of a complete listening. I’m not expecting and we don’t ever sort of suggest that you can go from where we are to that Utopia straight away but there are some really no-brainer sort of steps that our clients typically are going down doing. One of them is if you’ve got internal data sets, match them with external data sets and match them with social, right? And treat them as complementary to each other so you’re not relying on one in the absence of another.

JV:                  So essentially take away those silos.

Philip:              Yeah. So don’t listen to social noise without saying, “Well, how does that correlate to buying behaviour in-store or, or, you know, patient behaviour across a disease? Don’t just, don’t listen in isolation. Try to put it all together and then go from there.

Mark:              But we are talking about two things in parallel and the point about listening is a really great one because it’s, it’s connecting the dots between what we’re doing and what they’re doing but there’s also the strategy creation piece. So there’s, there’s two sides of the same coin, right? You’ve got to get it right.

JV:                  But is it, is it strategy creation or is it culture creation, because what strikes me is the stack approach that you were describing, which so many companies get stuck on when it comes to marketing is that we have this data, we’re going to analyse this data, we’re going to create a strategy on this data, we’re going to use that strategy to brief creatives and then we’re three months down the track and that point that you had has gone and so if you’re still using that very hierarchical structured approach, you lose the opportunity that you would gain through creative listening. So it’s actually the, the underlying culture and permission to provide people with the opportunity to have insight from information, to group together that data, but also to react on it, the permission to react on it without going through the stack is actually the only way to be effective and to get closer to Utopia, yeah?

Philip:              I – you solved the problem as well, yeah, I think that’s exactly it, a stack without the permission is, you know, it comes strange coming from a consultant with a tech background but, but, you know, the technology is necessary but not sufficient. The larger barriers we find are ways of working and permissions and, you know, a lot of organisations have lost some of the truths, that typically the folks closest to the customer are the ones are the ones who have the most impact and, and giving them permissions, but knowing where the guard rails are and how they want to respond, and that may not be through a marketing campaign. It may not be through a bit of creative comms. It may be through, “Let’s get some moments of joy in a shop experience.” That’s – so when we talk about building towards this Utopia, and let’s call this Utopia for want of a better word, you know, the experience engine, all right, and that’s the set of, of, of technologies and processes and behaviours and, and, and ultimately sort of products and services that allow you to systematically respond to a consumer’s or a patient’s desires, right? When you start to build in that, you actually – you’re on a journey that’s, you know, just about all organisations are going to go down at some point. You work out where you want to start. I’ve heard clients working who do not want to go down the big data path straight up. Okay. Well, let’s just get into some, you know, let’s get into some agile marketing campaign delivery where instead of relying on one bit of content to work across twelve weeks, you know, let’s try storytelling upfront, some rich video inserts into a, into social for – social is a great platform for this because you can experiment on a, on an hourly basis and you can do all your holdout groups and all the rest of it. But let’s start, start with that – work out what’s working, you know, does a red dress work better than the blue? Does the storytelling this way work better than that way? Okay. Now let’s take, you know, first of all you’re going to, you’re going to expose different audiences. Let’s try something completely different. Are people coming in in different parts? So, so that’s not big data driven. It’s actually using, it’s using a platform from a, you know, from social media and it’s really light touch.

Mark:              But it also could be to say that you’ve just outsourced the big data to other platforms.

Philip:              That’s another way of looking at it.

Mark:              And you’re actually just spending money along the way, which is actually old school, which is 50 per cent of my marketing work. So I just don’t know which 50, right? And so you’re spending money, even though in your example is a good one, it’s – and it might be just I’m spending 5k on a video or something and I’m going to learn from that, you’re still actually applying the same listening principle and you’re still applying the same data principal, but you’re just spending money along the way to do it.

Philip:              You’re refining its scale, which is the slight difference there. Think of this as large-scale test and learn, okay? So, so I do know which 50 per cent works, right? And knowing which 50 per cent worked this time, maybe next time I’ll get it to 55 and maybe…

Mark:              Yeah, but I’m also speaking to the marketing mindset which would say, “I want to measure everything and I want to know that when I put down this money, that it’s going to deliver me an outcome.” There’s an interesting dilemma that goes on just to sort of think about it from a marketing executive’s perspective. They would say, “Before I give you the five grand, I want you tell me that it’s going to work” and you’re saying, “Well, we’ll see”, you know, and, and so as long as they sign off on the, “Well, we’ll see” with the bigger picture in mind that we’re on a journey and we’re going to refine this and we’re going to come up with something, you’re inviting them into potentially quite a collaborative messy strategy development process. As opposed to, “Here’s the big bucket of money. Go and do the strategy”, you’re actually saying, “Let’s kind of build it as we go along.”

Philip:              I, I think, I think that’s relatively fair, yeah. I think um, it is…xx

Mark:              As long as they’re okay with that.

Philip:              Yeah. What’s the alternative? The alternative is either I’m outsourcing strategy and execution to a third party on, on the basis that they’ve done something good before. That’s a bit of a hit and miss, right? Or I’m going to, uh, I’m going to land on a big campaign and, you know, because I believe in it, right? How has that worked in the past? We all know it’s, it’s not even, it’s not even hit or miss, it’s mostly miss, right? So acknowledging that we don’t understand, but you can actually work on a constant, you know, constant battle to, to get a little bit more knowledge about, you know, your consumer or your audience target and be part of that strategy process and roll the sleeves up and be in the experience centre-type environment where, “What have we found out yesterday?” or “What did we find out last week?” “Okay, what did we stop doing?”, right? “What did we dial up? Let’s think out – let’s just keep on this process”, and they have really divergent voices in the room. So one of the keys here is you do pull your data scientists in with your creatives. It’s fascinating. It’s scary as all hell the first few times for everybody concerned.

JV:                  For everybody. [Laughs]

Philip:              For everybody, and actually, you don’t really don’t really want to be norming too much. You don’t want this well-oiled machine where it then drops down to a sort of a comfort level. No, you do want this tension playing out all the time within the controls.

Mark:              What do, what do you say to decision-makers that are risk-averse? They want the outcome, they want the result of the creative process but they actually – they’re risk-averse when it comes to engaging in the process, “What if in our testing, people hate us? It turns out to be an accidental, you know, firestorm on social because we put the wrong video out”, you know, what do you say to them?

Philip:              Yeah, risk aversion is probably in Australia, is, you know, I, I came back to Australia after 20 years overseas a couple of years ago and we were talking about this earlier, we are driven by aversion to risk because a lot of our industries are relatively safe oligopolistic, right? So no – if you don’t pop your head up too high, you can survive. I would argue that most of the industries are in, going into a period where that risk aversion will have a countereffect so we don’t really have much of a choice anymore.

Mark:              Such as?

Philip:              Comfortable retailer, retailer industries which have got new entrants, global entrants coming in and horizontal entrants coming in and, you know, you’ve got H&M landing on your shore and you’ve got Zara landing on your shore and you’ve got…

JV:                  Sephora.

Philip:              …Sephora landing on your shore and you’ve got Amazon landing on your shore and, and all of a sudden it’s like, “Okay, so how is risk aversion going to get me through this?”, right? You know, you’ve got grocery which is, you know, suffering not just from, you know, highly competitive different models but the thought that, you know, Amazon are going to get, come in on it – so I think in Australia at the moment we’re in one of those interesting points where through a combination of technology change, regulation is sort of taking a little bit looser approach and the planet’s shrinking. We’re in for a period of greater competitive intensity. So from, from a marketeer’s viewpoint, it’s probably the best time in the last couple of decades to be a marketeer who is actually leading the charge and saying, “Listen, we do have to learn how to experiment. We have to be driving that experimentation with customer at the centre, not just sort of being the guys who communicate what other people are doing, and, and, and build that as actually a form of a bit of advantage.

Mark:              What’s actually the best way to lead somebody through that thought process to get them to get over the risk, because I’ve heard so many keynote speakers and futurists and these people and they’ll tell you disruption is coming, the world’s over in your status, happy status quo, you know, you have to, you have to do all these things, right?

Philip:              A bit like when you go to a doctor and he tells you you really do need to eat less sugar so – and you go, “Logically I’m bought into this”, right?

Mark:              Yeah, and “How am I going to do that?” That’s – any logical business manager in Australia who’s risk-averse will say, “Show me the proven steps 1 to 10 that will get me there.”

Philip:              And it’s actually not the 10 steps that make a difference, it’s that one step.

JV:               The first one. [Laughs]

Philip:              If you can get them on that first step, you’re actually well along. So we, we, we talk about go small, not go large. So getting a fairly bounded – design thinking relies on you getting to a problem worth solving and a problem worth solving for that first step might want to be a smaller more bounded, therefore inherently less risky problem to prove to yourself that you can actually take those steps. Once you’ve taken that first step, your state, your mental state is just different, “Oh, okay. That worked. So maybe the next step is okay” and on and on and on. If you try to sell nirvana of, “We’re going to be this agile, connected, customer-centric organisation”, you just fall foul of that, “Oh really? I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t feel anything like that.”

JV:                  Because we, we have a lot of – we talk to a lot of senior marketers and I’ve found that a lot of them know how they need to change and they know where they need to change but actually taking that first step is, is really terrifying because their organisation isn’t necessarily behind them or with them or has a million other things that they’re dealing with at any given time. So for – what is that first step? “I’m a marketer. I know where I need to go. I’ve seen the newsroom model. I know about I – the fact I need to listen to my customer. I know I need to integrate the silos of data I have. Where do I begin?”

Philip:              Yeah, look, [Laughs], I can’t give away all the secrets, right?

JV:                  Yeah. There’s this great place that PwC runs called The Experience Centre. [Laughs]

Philip:              Yeah, yeah. Come and have a chat. So, so different organisations start different ways and, and, and, you know, some organisations have a DNA that’s a little more fact-orientated so you know that you as a marketeer, you can go down the path of dipping the toes in data and natural language listening and the likes because they all respond well to that. Some organisations have sort of a DNA that is far more sort of culturally-led and you know that if you want to do experiments around experience, customer experience and, and staff engagement, they’ll be a little bit more open to that. So there’s, there’s, there’s all these pieces that we know we want to put together over the long term but you can start in any number of places and think of it as sort of like, “Once I start there I can then do wave two, wave three” and so on. So there’s no, there’s no silver bullet, “Sorry guys, but, you know…” But the, the good news is if you know your organisation and you know where you can start that, you know, there are pretty proven ways of getting that first step.

JV:                  One of the wonderful ones I heard was from Nick Baker when he was at Tourism Australia when he first came on and he, being the recently-appointed CMO walked down the corridor and spoke to the CIO, and he was the first marketeer ever to walk into the IT department. [Laughs] I mean, and it’s not rocket science. It’s like, “We need you guys to be successful. We need to act together to be successful. Let’s talk to each other.” [Laughs]

Philip:              Yeah, and understand that the CIO is just as terrified as you are of…

JV:                  Of each other. [Laughs]

Philip:              Yeah. Yeah, so…

Mark:              I was going to say it’s not often that the CIO does the same thing, right?

JV:                  Exactly, yeah.

Mark:              Walks down the hall because – there’s an incredible – I mean, this is probably a whole another subject, right? The battle for dollars between those two departments.

Philip:              Yeah, which, you know, to me is kind of like a necessary stage we get, we need to get through very, very quickly because the combined organisation of a customer-centric technology function or capability is, is where we know we need to get to. We know we, you know, one of those things is we need to have two-speed or multi-speed organisations for a period of time. To have IT and marketing not working together is just, you know, logically inexplicable. Emotionally it’s totally understandable but logically it’s not going to get us where we need to get to, right?

JV:                  Mm-hmm. The other one that intrigues me is when, is the need for the marketing department to work more closely with the HR department because really if you’ve got a huge call centre and the main touchpoint people have, or clients/customers have with your brand is that call centre, then the people you need to imbue with that fundamental brand messaging are the, the guys that work on the phones. [Laughs]

Philip:              Couldn’t say it better myself. The – if you think about call centres, we’ve gone through a stage where they’ve been considered a cost to the business and, and all this slightly dysfunctional management behaviour of, “Well, let’s minimise costs. Let’s, you know, let’s shorten the calls as far as possible” and you hear the stories of, you know, just being terminated because you’ve taken too long with a call. Actually, a call centre is just a brilliant way of connecting with your customers. If you’re a, if you’re a consumer goods company and you’re selling through other retailers for example, you don’t have any connection really that way so, you know, call centres are great. People are actually taking the effort to call in for something. You cannot just track what they called in for and what their sentiment was at the start, the middle, the end and start mining that but you can treat, you can help your call centre operator by, you know, next-best action and saying, “Look…” and this is where the big data or the machine comes in with the emotion, “…you have permission now to go and do something really authentic and crazy, you know, just a flashing – go and make this person happy, you know, go and make this person happy.”

JV:                  [Laughs] Proactively call them. [Laughs]

Philip:              Within some guidelines, you know, please don’t offer them a million dollars or, you know, but, but just make them happy and, and, you know, organisation – this is this sort of the art and the science again, is we sort of veer too strongly towards the science and the constraints, missing the fact that people are engaging with people and your brand comes alive through those moments, right? And if I’ve ever had a positive call centre experience – I’m trying to recall when I last had a positive call centre experience, you could be sure I’d be telling a lot of people about it, right?

Mark:              We need to wrap it up and I’m aware of the time. Thinking about how we kind of wrap together a giant beast of a conversation. [Laughs] What’s it going to look like in a few years from now?

Philip:              So yeah, let’s just start with this balancing out of the, the discipline and the, and the creative.

Mark:              Yeah.

Philip:              People are fixated a little bit at the moment on the building of the machine, you know, the tech stack and everything else. I think there’s an equally exciting building of the creative ecosystem within agency and within clients. So we know we need thousands of times more content that has to be more engaging than we’ve had historically. So that’s, that’s very, very exciting. It probably means exploring a lot of different models, of creating that and it’s, you know, so the MOFILMs of the world and the various open platforms for content creation, but it also means different ways of working, both within that core team who are actually trying to drive the innovation and within the rest of the business who then have to absorb, you know, changes in behaviours and governance and everything else going, going forward. That’s a big, that’s your big picture story.

Mark:              Excellent.

JV:                  Mm-hmm. So taking that agility into the creative process as well.

Philip:              Absolutely. Absolutely and, you know, creators have shown over time that they’re incredibly adaptive. They might go kicking and screaming but they will eventually adapt and they’ll probably be better, you know, in the future.

Mark:              And a cheeky question, how worried should agencies be about, you know, the, the big consulting players like yourself?

Philip:              As worried as big consulting players about, you know, remaining relevant in these times. So if you’re not worried there’s something wrong but, you know, the flipside of that is most of the time, agencies and big consulting players should learn how to play together a hell of a lot better because there’s complementary skill sets that come into play.

Mark:              Yeah. That’s a really good point and I think this whole conversation around combining the data and combining the creative aspects – obviously there’s two different disciplines there but I do know that is an active conversation, right? So this sort of thing. This is a really fascinating time in terms of everybody’s business model is being fundamentally changed or at least shaken up to the point of which bits are important and which bits do we leave aside.

Philip:              Yeah, absolutely.

Mark:              Well, thank you for bringing some light and perspective on a huge subject. It’s been great to have you on the show, Philip.

Philip:              Pleasure’s been mine.

JV:                  Guiding us through the labyrinth. [Laughs] Thanks so much for coming on.

Philip:              You’re welcome. Thanks guys.

 

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