strategy+business Winter 2013 : Page 80

B E S T B U S I N E S S B O O K S 2 0 13 / M A R K E T I N G 80 the glossary. But then, if you don’t know that ubicomp means ubiquitous computing, it’s all the more reason to read this clear-eyed, comprehensive look at how tech-nology is changing customer experience. As you read it, pay particular attention to how Lord and Velez position the volume of technology in the marketing universe. “Winners in the twenty-first century won’t be distinguished by how fast they master buzzwords or how many faddish new digital marketing campaigns they undertake,” the authors write. “Those winners will be organizations whose main focus is on their consumer’s journey and who possess a relentless desire to understand and improve that journey from beginning to end. This isn’t merely about serving up new ads cloaked in the latest social fashion, but about improving the consumer experi-ence at all stages.” Yes, there’s the e-word again. Converge is one of the few marketing books that deal with the back end of customer experi-ence—with how to use technology to deliver it. You may wonder what cloud computing and agile meth-odology have to do with market-ing. But both are fitting metaphors for the real-time nature of market-ing. As Lord and Velez write in a brief section on the hoary TV up-fronts, in which marketers vie to buy commercials up to a year in advance, “For those individuals who spend most of their marketing budget in digital channels, the upfront is a striking outlier from the rest of marketing reality. Marketing in the twenty-first cen-tury is all about speed, accountability, data, and digital. The upfronts are about long-term thinking, guesstima-tions on the potential success of new programming, personalities, and, of course, golf.” What cloud computing and agile methodology have in common is that they can play a crucial role in making marketing a continuously iterative process, and rescuing it from its traditional guise as a long-lead-time, big-budget ocean liner that is difficult to turn when the waters ahead get choppy or a better course reveals itself. The cloud takes infrastructure concerns off the marketer’s plate. “You need to think of data centers not as something you build but as something…you rent to keep your costs down, to improve speed to market, and to allow your people to focus on innovation,” explain the authors. Agile methodology, which grew out of the applica-tion of lean production principles to software develop-ment, concerns how people work. “An agile market-ing organization,” say the authors, “is always on and responsive and is not driven by campaigns locked in a year ahead of time.” During a project for Ford, for ex-ample, Razorfish began by focusing its efforts on fea-tures that helped Ford’s customers manage high gas prices. But when gas prices declined in the middle of the project, an agile work method enabled the team to shift its focus to other, more germane car-buying con-cerns, like financing. Even as many marketers have looked to create real-time advertising, such as Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet during 2013’s Super Bowl blackout, the use of technology as a means of creating real-time experiences that tap into consumer wants and needs holds much greater promise. If that’s not fundamental to effective mar-keting, then what is? Considering the sheer mag-nitude of ad budgets, the vast majority of the interactions most of us have with brands are still going to be through advertis-ing. The problem is, as this year’s best business books on marketing make clear, the vast majority of those interactions will not enable or encourage consumer interaction with the brands that they purport to be building. Taglines be damned, it’s time to address how customers experience your brand. + Catharine P. Taylor has covered digital media since 1994, writing for publica-tions including Adweek and Advertising Age . She currently writes a weekly column for MediaPost, and is a frequent speaker on social media’s impact on advertising, media, and behavior. strategy+business strategy+business issue issue 73 73 best books 2013 marketing

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