Forward-Thinking Brands Should Consider Marketing the Organization's Growth Engine

‘Brochures and stuff.’ That's what many people still think marketing is all about. But, those of us in the field know that there’s so much more to it than that.

At its best, great marketing is about inspiring an emotional bond between a brand and its customers. Think about brands like Netflix, Nike, Apple, Starbucks, Amazon and Tesla. People who love these brands love them. Enough to advocate for them with their friends; Enough to buy generation after generation of new products; Some, even enough to wait in line for days in order to be among the first to purchase a new release. That’s what brand loyalty means. And that’s what a great human-centric marketing strategy can help create. If a customer can see their own identity within the identity of a brand, you’ve got them thinking: I think different. I just do it. And if they believe the brand to be an essential partner in their own journey, you’ve got them for life.

For a brand to succeed and create that kind of loyalty, though, it simply must go beyond being a product or service provider to really understanding its consumers. It must insert itself into the everyday lives of its users in a way that achieves a positive one-to-one outcome for its user, and also enables an ecosystem in which users can create additional value for themselves, each other, and for the brand itself. That sounds like a tall order, but brands like Amazon are doing it every day and, as a result, are growing and thriving in a tough competitive landscape.

To do this effectively, organizations must look to marketing as a core business function. Marketing, in fact, has the power to be a growth engine for the company - to drive revenue and to get its organization into the consideration set with customers, while enabling quality customer interactions at every touch point.

Lead from the front with strategy and data

Organizations that do this best lead from the front with a solid marketing strategy that moves from being product-centric to human-centric, leveraging modern marketing methods like data analytics, digital and social. When coupled with age-old great storytelling, these powerful new tools can increase mindshare, drive demand and ultimately help organizations to achieve business growth.

As a growth engine, it is important for marketing to use a 360-degree strategic planning process to align with the company goals, shape business strategies and define marketing strategies. Data holds the key to understanding revenue, go-to-market opportunities and customer digital behavior. This is the key to understanding who the most valuable customers are and how to engage with them holistically across the customer lifecycle journey.

As an example, at Brocade we used a disciplined 360-strategic planning process to define a robust marketing strategic plan for driving revenue and pipeline through a comprehensive brand-to-demand plan. We developed data capabilities to build market and customer intelligence. We then used that information to effectively partner with our sales organization and to define our go-to-market strategies. 

Aim to change the world with magical stories

We have the ability to change the world through great storytelling - and in a world where we are constantly being inundated by information, this is more necessary than ever. To create compelling narratives we must first understand two important aspects: what matters to our customers, and why should we matter to our customers.

Sounds simple, right? You might be surprised by how many great companies struggle to answer these simple, yet critically important, questions.

Marketing, by its sheer proximity, is in the best position to represent the voice of the customer within our organization and to answer the why and what. We can help define for our organization what is relevant to our customers and the solutions they seek - and we can deliver the authentic stories and narratives that inspire action. 

For Brocade, our brand essence is rooted in our genesis of partnership and co-creation. By creating a narrative for our customers that demonstrates an understanding of their digital transformation journeys and highlights how Brocade can partner with them in this quest, we have been able to inspire them to drive change. We showcase our value as that bridge between their business challenges to their business goals, offering approachable and achievable path between.

Be human-centric and think growth (not just leads!)

If you want customers to show up and follow you, you have to first consider how you are showing up for them. This isn’t just about the product or solution you are providing, but the purpose and passion that your brand exudes every day. Consumers are multi-faceted and complicated, requiring a nonlinear customer journey. Understanding what matters to them is key, because simply creating leads and single touch points don't enable those lasting relationships or drive the growth we seek. 

As the physical and virtual blend in today's universe (remember Pokemon-Go!) it's important to engage with customers seamlessly across these multiple planes. As a brand, we drive growth when we not only discover what makes them tick but when we are there at the moment of opportunity. Brand visual identity-tone-voice is key for consistency and differentiation. In this time where attention spans are declining by the moment, snackable, customer-centric stories that evoke emotion will capture mindshare.

And underpinning it all is the ethos of a great culture. Having a TRIBE marching towards a shared purpose with a collaborative DNA is foundational to success for any business and any team.

Bringing it all together

It's one of the most exciting times in the history of marketing. Today, we get to win hearts, minds and dollars by leveraging modern digital universe and data insights, coupled with the age-old magic of stories. We have the opportunity to pivot to modern purpose-driven, human-centric marketing, fueling business growth and revenue. 

With a 360-degree view of the changing marketplace and consumer trends, today's most successful marketers are business leaders first. And I believe the most amazing CEOs of tomorrow, those who will change the world we live in, are the forward-thinking CMOs of today.