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3 actionable insights with... IBM CMO Carla Piñeyro Sublett

IBM’s CMO Carla Piñeyro Sublett says to not ‘run the same plays as the past’

The Drum’s 3 Actionable Insights series asks industry leaders to share their thoughts about the actions our readers should take immediately. Today we catch up with IBM’s new chief marketer Carla Piñeyro Sublett to hear about how to connect with customers and cross-functional teams, as well as what we can take away from the show Chef’s Table. Here’s what she has to say...

1. Don’t just go through the marketing motions – build a legitimate connection with your customer

Since the advent of martech and the acceleration of the data, sometimes, as marketers, we lose the plot. We forget that there’s actual people on the other end of all this data, and that they have a problem to solve.

Let me give you an example. During Covid, the world went digital overnight. Every marketer on the planet had to rewrite all their plans (shout out to all the marketers out there who had to go through the last year, because their quality of life was not great). We all had to pivot.

What we saw on the first iteration of the world going digital was that everybody took what was basically offline or analog and flipped it. Events just became broadcasts of actual events that we put up in digital format.

Fast forward to 2021, and we’ve become a lot more sophisticated as marketers. We’ve started to really think about the fact that people are now starting to get screen fatigue. Nobody wants to go to another virtual happy hour. Now the question is, ‘ How do we engage customers in a meaningful way with something that’s going to add value?’ With our Think event, we wanted to create an experience for our customers. They’re going to be able to navigate their own journey and build their own event from the content that we’re putting together.

I’m seeing the world going in this direction. It all comes from wanting to build a stronger connection with customers and bringing value and meaning to our engagements with them – not just peppering them with banner ads, stalking them on LinkedIn or flooding their email inboxes.

2. Become experts on your company’s business objectives

Too often marketers obsess over activity and process. Sometimes they don’t really understand the business objective they’re trying to achieve or the key financial levers within the business.

My guidance for all marketers out there is to really make sure that you align with your cross-functional organizations to understand what they’re trying to achieve from a business outcome standpoint. If you’re being asked to do something, don’t just assume that you know why and go do it. Take the time to understand what’s underneath that ask and what the other teams are trying to achieve.

The best marketing comes from really understanding the products and services that you’re trying to bring to market and the actual business or personal outcomes it provides.

3. Own content consumption

Our world has completely changed in terms of how people consume content. I will personally be vulnerable and share that when the workday is done, I am completely done with Slack, WhatsApp, Signal, Clubhouse, LinkedIn, Gmail and email of all sorts. There’s just too much coming at us all the time. It’s really overwhelming.

At the same time, we are still consuming inordinate amounts of content in our personal lives. 2020 was the year of the Netflix binge, so it’s now about how marketers can really benefit from thinking about how the world prefers to consume content today – and how we show up in the right format. That can be folks listening to podcasts on a run, really getting caught up in a series or learning how to do something via YouTube. Too often traditional channels are flooded because we’re all running the same play. As a result, we’ve rendered them less effective than they once were.

I’m extremely inspired by shows like Chef’s Table. It tells beautiful stories and is highly bingeable – whether you’re a foodie or not. So we could take teachings from things like that and say, ‘Okay, what does that mean to us as marketers? How can we potentially tell our stories in a way that’s compelling and customers would want to learn more?’

Then there’s YouTube. Cisco estimated that 82% of all content created will be video in the next year. The pandemic has only accelerated that. We need to deliver more sophisticated experiences for customers on platforms like YouTube and TikTok. It’s about keeping a really open mind and actually exploring how content comes to life with respect to storytelling.

You can check out more of our 3 Actionable Insights series here, and don’t forget to sign up for The Drum’s daily US email here.

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