Digital Transformation Tech Brand Purpose

How CMOs can orchestrate marketing strategies for growth & relevance


By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

December 11, 2023 | 11 min read

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Accenture Song and industry experts share key takeaways on the dynamic relationship between technology, creativity, data and brand contribution, based on emerging trends changing how brands can stay relevant with customers.

'In Concert with the Customer' explores how to orchestrate marketing strategies for growth

'In Concert with the Customer' explores how to orchestrate marketing strategies for growth

Setting the stage for customer relevance is like a concert – the hard graft that happens backstage is just as important as the front stage experience a customer has with your brand.

As the orchestrator of business growth, the opportunity for CMOs is to ensure that the front and backstage are working in perfect harmony; where the creative idea fulfils the entire customer journey from products and services to how it powers the business to deliver relevance and growth.  

Yet the interplay between people and their behaviors and attitudes to the world around them – be it business, technology, or other societal shifts – are changing faster than businesses can change themselves. To catalyze growth requires meticulous orchestration from the CMO to ensure their brand can play a meaningful and relevant role in the lives of customers.

To bring this story to life, The Drum and Accenture Song staged a five-part video series, ‘In Concert with the Customer’ to explore the marketing journey in five parts: from customer trends, technology to creativity, data-driven experiences to brand contribution.

  1. Episode 1: Setting the stage: customer relevance
  2. Episode 2: Backstage pass: technology capabilities
  3. Episode 3: Headline act: creative disruption
  4. Episode 4: Front row seat: data -driven experiences
  5. Episode 5: The encore: contribution-driven growth

Setting the stage: customer relevance

The stage was set in episode one where Accenture Song’s global thought leadership lead Katie Burke and managing director Mark Sherwin were joined by Tom Foulkes, former marketing director of Carter Jonas to explore five emerging customer trends from Accenture Song’s Life Trends 2024.

“We have research that correlates customer obsession to growth for brands, but there’s been a bit of a whiplash – all this obsession has now been undermined by profit-driven manoeuvres coming into everyday experiences; customers are starting to feel this, and they’re not happy,” said Burke.

“A trap that marketers can get into is assuming that their customer wants to fall in love with your business,” said Foulkes. And there’s a shifting narrative from people within businesses from how customers are loyal to them to how they need to be loyal to their customers.”

“Relevancy is changing incredibly fast – [you can’t] just orchestrate what you did yesterday, more efficiently, more effectively, and think you’re going to stay relevant,” added Sherwin.

Key CMO takeaways:

  • Customers are complex and messy – a life-centered focus is key to keep up with change
  • Don’t lose sight of how relevant your brand is – spend time understanding your customers
  • Champion creative in the boardroom and increase that metabolism with human capital.

Backstage pass: technology capabilities

In episode two, the focus turned backstage to the opportunity for organizations to rewire their technology capabilities to deliver a digital ‘customer first’ approach. Amir Malik, marketing transformation managing director, Accenture Song and Matt Rich, vice-president for customer care and innovation at BP discussed how businesses can be ‘match fit’ by piecing together the different needs of customers and enabling automation.

“We have millions of people coming through every day and we need to be match fit on each and every one of those transactions,” said Rich. “Our ability to be able to create a single view of the customer is paramount in what we’re trying to do.”

“The landscape is changing rapidly; if businesses are going to start to understand the role of automation, they need to break down traditional operating models and supplier relationships,” said Malik. “We've got new commercial models, we’ve got the ability of six people to manage $200m in advertising spend to deliver a billion dollars back in ROI. That digital execution needs to be integrated and adopted by brands if they want to compete on the scale we see today.”

Key CMO takeaways:

  • Now is the time to restructure and bring innovation anchored in a customer first approach
  • Think customer back – if you get the human aspect right, the tech will take care of itself.

Headline act: creative disruption

Episode three moved to the front stage experience and the need for brands to invest in genuine innovation and creativity to stand out and avoid falling into a technology trap that stifles creativity. Zoe Eagle, creative agency co-chief, Accenture Song and Shelley Macintyre, chief brand officer at Allplants discussed technology as a canvas for creativity.

“I’ve never met a CMO who doesn’t want to be creative,” said Macintyre. “People are doom scrolling thousands of pieces of content the height of Statue of Liberty in a day – so you have to be a thumb stopper.”

“Creativity, at its most fundamental is about the unseen and the unknown,” said Eagle. “That is an incredibly powerful way of connecting with human beings. Brands have got to make sure they’re captaining the ship as they go through the crazy waves of change, rather than just being bobbed about by it. The brands that really last, the businesses that really scale are the ones that fundamentally stay true to who they are but express it through relevant lenses.”

Key CMO takeaways:

  • Get your brand strategy locked in as the foundation to define what you stand for and the promise you intend to deliver, to engage confidently with creative exploration
  • Use data as the fuel for genuine originality, rather than a blueprint for what you do next
  • Earn the respect of your CEO and CFO to bring more creativity into the business – by justifying that investment, that’s how you get to the better outcomes.

Front row seat: data-driven experiences

In episode four, the focus moved into the audience to explore how brands can unlock their secret weapon to give customers a front-row seat to brand experiences that deliver value. Ana Madrid, data scientist lead in intelligence, Accenture Song and Laura Chaibi, director, international ad marketing & insights, Roku covered how brands can share love with their customers by fusing together data points.

“Customer obsession is not top of mind – you need to bring that back and think about how to use your data in a creative way and be imaginative by bringing together technology and creativity into one data symphony. That's when you’re going to have the best outcomes,” said Madrid.

“If the DNA of the business is not attuned to working with data, you really need to understand where you are in this evolution,” said Chaibi. “It used to be that one data point was enough to have a really good data fusion; now with generative AI, where you are working with 200 data points that you’re fusing together to make a narrative, that’s where the creativity is going to be.”

Key CMO takeaways:

  • Know your business DNA and understand where you are in the maturity curve to be able to make the right data fusions
  • Think about the different data sources you have, what it means and how to bring it together with technology and creativity.

The encore: contribution-driven growth

The fifth and final episode of the series reaches its crescendo with the ‘human moment’ and the importance of ‘meaningful actions’ for sustained customer relevance. Nina Holdaway, marketing managing director, Accenture Song and Amanda Jobbins, global CMO and director strategic partners, Vodafone Business discussed how marketers can engineer sustained customer led growth by delivering value – bringing technology and creativity together as a driver for change. 

“What any customer wants, whether they’re a B2C or B2B customer, is to align themselves with brands that have meaning, purpose, and inclusion around our societies as a whole, and are demonstrating that they’re doing things in those areas that are meaningful,” said Jobbins.

“Bringing creatives and techies together is some of the best moments that we have because that’s where new thinking comes to the fore and that’s where the magic happens,” said Holdaway. “If we can make that work properly, that’s when we’re going to deliver for customers and make progress in the world.” 

Key CMO takeaways:

  • Truly understand your audience and the broader context of their lives – if you’re going to play a meaningful role, you have to have permission to be there, so talk to them
  • Do what you love – work for a brand that’s authentic and understand the vision and journey you’re taking both your customers and employees on.

The full series, ‘In Concert with the Customer’ is available to watch here on The Drum TV.

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