12月 152020

Let’s flash back to a simpler year. I don’t want to date myself, so think circa 1990s. I remember sitting with my now husband watching Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball when I was first introduced to Doris Kearns Goodwin. She didn’t just know baseball – it was part of her DNA. She was smart, funny and a storyteller. I became a fan that day, and only came [...]

Unite, cultivate, replenish: 3 lessons from Doris Kearns Goodwin was published on SAS Voices by Jenn Chase

7月 212020

When Liverpool clinched the Premier League title with a win on June 25, my household was giddy. We are a family of sports fans, and we especially love baseball (Go, Red Sox!) and soccer. I’m a relative newbie to Liverpool, having cheered for them for the last five years. Having [...]

Premier League champs offer lessons on and off the field was published on SAS Voices by Jenn Chase

7月 212020

When Liverpool clinched the Premier League title with a win on June 25, my household was giddy. We are a family of sports fans, and we especially love baseball (Go, Red Sox!) and soccer. I’m a relative newbie to Liverpool, having cheered for them for the last five years. Having [...]

Premier League champs offer lessons on and off the field was published on SAS Voices by Jenn Chase

6月 302020

Recently I had an opportunity to talk to one of my favorite authors and thinkers, Simon Sinek. The conversation was far reaching, and thousands of people have tuned in to watch the interview. Our conversation, which took place during our recent Virtual SAS® Global Forum 2020, ranged from the infinite [...]

3 tweetable moments from talking with Simon Sinek was published on SAS Voices by Oliver Schabenberger

7月 252017

In the first half of 2017 and in my only domain – which is marketing – an announcement set the tone for a major change. How not to be stunned when “Coca-Cola ditches global CMO role in leadership shake-up”? If there is only one product you can find anywhere on [...]

With AI, marketing is needed but marketers might not be was published on SAS Voices by Christine Coudert

3月 112015

In today’s world, leading your organization to faster, better decisions calls for skill, agility and resourcefulness. Increasingly, it also requires the use of analytics to meet changes in customer expectations brought about with social, mobile and the digitization of life.

The keynote panel at the Marketing Analytics Conference.The lunch keynote at the DMA's Marketing Analytics Conference featured insights and practices from executives that have led their respective organizations to embrace analytics. Adele Sweetwood, VP of Marketing at SAS Institute, moderated this panel that included:

  • Michael Parkerson, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
  • Emmett Cox, SVP of Customer and Business Intelligence at BBVA Compass Bank
  • Jeremy TerBush, VP of CRM and Customer Analytics at RCI/Wyndham Exchange

The Customer Journey

Adele kicked off the discussion with a short video about the customer journey and how it is increasingly influenced by new digital channels and technology. And that journey generates a wealth of information that helps marketers better understand and deliver excellence along that journey through the use of analytics.

And the customer journey begins long before we previously thought – we now know from research that our prospects and customers are 60% through their decision journey BEFORE they ever contact a vendor. Customers and prospects are downloading content, watching videos, and joining communities - truly across industries. And all those digital footsteps leave trails of data behind that marketers can use for insights.

Along that vein, one of Adele’s favorite quotes is, “whoever uses data better – wins.” To be sure, the availability of data has changed the dynamics in the enterprise. For Emmett, the biggest change has been blurred lines between analytics and marketing, which has helped marketing evolve the quality of its engagement.

Marketing analytics and the Customer Experience

When asked about the link between using marketing analytics and the customer experience, one consensus from the panel was that getting actionable insights and a single view of the customer can be the hardest part of making data matter. Emmett believes that it’s not the data per se, but what you do with the data that makes you stand out. For BCBSNC, Michael shared how the upheaval that came with the Affordable Care Act meant that they needed to use the data to ensure consumers were both competent in making health insurance choices and confident in their own ability to do it – a very customer centric approach to engaging health insurance customers that might surprise some.

And as an indicator of just how strategically important analytics are at BCBSNC, Michael added that, “We want to write history and not read about it, to shape the market and not just talk about it.

Fostering an Analytical Culture in Marketing

The panel explored the elements that drive the adoption of analytics, and in some ways catalyze that adoption, and how they relate to the culture of the organization. One of the most impactful lessons learned in building out an analytical culture is to reward constant testing and measuring—encouraging people to use the data and analytics to fail fast and innovate in their approaches.

Leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering an analytical culture in marketing. BCBSNC has merged analytics and strategy and the idea is that the insights derived from analytics are what drive (and should drive) strategy. In addition, BCBSNC encourages the development of customer-centric thinking by having the marketing team take on the personas identified in segmenting, which helps them enrich their planning discussions. At BBVA Compass, it begins with the hiring process, where they are looking for people that are curious and can blend both scientific objectivity and broad, creative thinking more closely linked with artists. And Adele shared how job postings at SAS are getting more descriptive in terms of addressing likes/dislikes and attributes of candidates as opposed to a simple listing of skills requirements.

Internal alignment around an analytically-driven culture also impacts the ability to become customer-centered. For Jeremy at Wyndham, driving progress and process can come down to the team you tap to help you move data and take the action to move forward. He further added that you’ve got to make friends with your IT counterpart to make your analytics work – and to further the necessary internal alignment so that people can speak both data and business.

Closing Thoughts:

Adele closed the discussion by asking for either a lesson learned or what’s next for their respective organizations.Adele Panel Headshots

  • Michael suggested – don’t focus on regretting an action, nor should you look back and wish you’d done something. If you think something is going to help your customer or move your organization forward, then do it. You have the insights and perspectives that can help your company, so make sure you leverage them.
  • For Emmett, it’s about collecting data and not taking action on it. Don’t wait around wondering what the next shiny object in big data will be. There’s a tremendous amount of value with what you currently have, so don’t regret later that you didn’t use it.
  • From Jeremy’s perspective, it’s a matter of educating your peers on the value of analytics and how it will positively impact the organization. He suggests that you focus on getting everyone on board with what analytics will deliver and providing progress reports along the way.
  • And Adele concurred with all of the panelists final thoughts and added that you should take steps to have fun along the way – otherwise it’s not worth doing it.


This post originally appeared on the Advance, the official blog of the Direct Marketing Association.

tags: best practices, customer experience, leadership, marketing analytics, the DMA
3月 072015
As an executive coach, I've worked with thousands of managers and business leaders whose personal language sabotaged their effectiveness at driving change, not to mention their day-to-day team management. For your Inner Leader to shine through, you need to master your personal language--your way of communicating your company’s goals and […]
10月 282014
Magic Johnson at DMA 2014

Magic Johnson working the crowd.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson  is very large in stature and even larger in personality. He is often remembered as a professional basketball star and is now making his mark in the business world in a characteristically large-sized way.  And Magic just loves to prove people wrong – especially if they tell him he can’t do something.

At many stages throughout his career, he has been underestimated by people who did not think he “had what it took” to meet the challenge at hand. And apparently hearing that doubt in his abilities is all it takes to steel his determination. To that highly personal motivator, he offers a few other key factors for marketers to embrace for success.

Magic Johnson's outsized personal charisma really shines.

Magic Johnson's outsized personal charisma really shines.

Get out of your comfort zone

He credits obstacles and circumstances from his early years with teaching him how to understand and deal with people and situations way outside his comfort zone – key talents he attributes to success in business. One way he’s been effective in business is by focusing on urban communities – and more specifically in getting companies investing in ethnically diverse urban communities that would normally overlook them. Taking this approach, Magic got Starbucks to grant him a franchise for urban locations and then was able to report better metrics than the corporate-owned stores.

Know your customer

This is so important that it’s not simply a concern of marketing – it’s business strategy. And this is how Magic believes he was able to make inner-city Starbucks locations a success. In his words, out went the scones and in came the sweet potato pies. Out went the music tracks heard in traditional Starbucks locations and in came the Earth Wind & Fire and other bands more familiar to the inner city resident.

For B2B, it’s a matter of knowing the core values of the organization, and of the CEO. Research the company mission statement and convey your value proposition in terms of how you can help the company fulfill its mission. For very large organizations with complex business models, nothing beats analytics for getting insights to inform an accurate customer view.

Over-deliver consistently

Everybody has expectations – sometimes it’s driven by contractual obligations and at other times it’s driven by general business norms. No matter what’s driving them, Magic Johnson believes in over-delivering. Some of this comes from his personal drive to prove his detractors wrong, but he translates this to a core value that’s organization-wide that has translated into the investment funds he leads which have grown progressively larger from $300 million to over $1 billion. On a day-to-day basis, Magic is quick to point out the fundamental importance of your front-line workers in impacting the customer experience. It’s important to equip them and empower them to over-deliver. His viewpoint validates the need for cross-organizational alignment around the same customer vision.

Be prepared and focused

Magic Johnson does his homework – every time, and he wants to know as much about the audience he’s speaking to as possible. Doing that enables him to understand how to focus – to prepare his message, the delivery and any potential extenuating circumstances that would impact the outcome of what he has in mind. In the last couple of years, his biggest concern was the economy. So in his stake in the inner-city Starbucks, he knew that in a normal economy, people might visit a Starbucks 3-4 times a week. He also new that people would be likely to cut back when times were lean, so he redirected the focus to customer retention and trying to make sure people felt special when they came in so they would keep coming back.

Do a regular self-assessment to improve

Play to your strengths and shore up where you’re weak. Magic advocates doing a SWOT analysis of your business twice a year and to be very honest about what your weaknesses are. And try to do it on a forward-looking basis, particularly if you think you want a growth strategy and make sure you can manage the growth. It’s more important to keep your customers happy, even if that means operating at a smaller margin because satisfying your customers is how you build a business-sustaining reputation. This self-awareness approach of his goes hand-in-hand with always being open to learning and improving. He is a self-described sponge that keeps reinventing himself – he never stops improving and s never satisfied.

Magic Johnson was the opening keynote speaker at the DMA Annual Conference. He charmed the audience by working the crowd with a highly personal touch. As it happens with other successful public figures, his charisma made it seem like every single person in the audience was the most important person in the world.

I must say – it was indeed magic.

tags: analytics, best practices, DMA, leadership, Magic Johnson
10月 242014

Word-of-mouth references and first-person accounts are usually the best way to get the “real deal” on something. It’s how you can get unfiltered information that’s almost as good as having the experience first hand. George Blankenship at the Premier Business Leadership Series.

With that idea in mind, I was more than pleased to hear George Blankenship share his unique perspective from a long career of creative breakthroughs at game-changing companies like Tesla Motors, Apple and The Gap.

George speaks with authority about doing the impossible.

The common thread at all three companies is that they’ve managed to pull off the impossible. So how and why did it happen at each of those companies? George attributes it to the ability to step back and see what’s happening more clearly than whoever happens to be the dominant player in the market at the time.

In the case of The Gap their new approach was to make quality, value and style accessible for customers. And they did it simply and in a way that they become a trusted editor (of style) for their customers. Their approach was to create 4 great sweaters and make them accessible, and not 40. And then repeat it across multiple channels to serve different markets – The Gap now operates successfully as Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap.

What’s interesting is that Steve Jobs wanted to sell technology at Apple like a fashion item – like Banana Republic. So Steve sought out George and asked him to spearhead Apple’s improbable move into opening retail stores in shopping malls. History has shown that move to be wildly successful and disruptive as a result. And then Tesla Motors – what approach did they want to take? They want to sell cars like Apple sells computers - big surprise!

But in those approaches is it really selling? Looking more closely, customers are not simply buying – they are having an experience. That’s part of the appeal and part of the differentiation of these companies. And tellingly they focus on making the customers satisfied and have been rewarded handsomely as a result.

Apple went from being a company whose products nobody wanted to own to the most valuable company on the planet. Part of their approach was to ambush customers – engage them with something nicely different at a moment when they’re not buying, or more importantly to get them when they don’t expect to be sold a product. That was the thinking behind the first two Apple stores – in Tysons Corner, VA and in Glendale, CA – that had opening-day lines to get in the store that were hundreds of people deep.

The other common thread among those companies is that Steve Jobs’ and Elon Musk’s laser focus on a concept is legendary and so was The Gap’s Mickey Drexler.

So what’s the big appeal of owning Apple products now?  It’s a combination of innovation, simplicity, design and an unparalleled ownership experience. The innovative part was that their products are user-centered and make it very easy to do what they need to do. Their design is both fun beautiful in their simplicity – both ergonomic and visually pleasing.

And the kicker is the ownership experience. It begins with people – their Geniuses are great people-oriented people. And they turn them loose to make their customers feel important, respected and taken care of. At the Apple store, no matter where or when you bought your Apple product you’ll be taken care of at the Genius Bar. And then there are the applications – remember “there’s an app for that?” To me it seems like Apple products are as much about the apps as they are about the devices themselves.

What has Apple revolutionized with their approach? Well for starters – the retail experience, music, mobile phones, mobile computing, and even babysitting. George points out how easy it is to let kids get wrapped up in games or videos on an iPad as his example of revolutionized babysitting – and he has a point!

So how can these approaches be replicated? It’s a matter of stepping back and seeing the synergies happening all around us, such as drones, streaming videos, personal activity monitors.

How can analytics help in doing the impossible? George sees the opportunity in data as telling you what everyone else is going to do, and by extension it also shows you what they’re not going to do. And to change the world, sometimes you need to do the impossible.

The Postal Service was founded in 1775, and UPS was founded in 1907, but it wasn’t until 1971 that Fred Smith decided to try offering an overnight package delivery service and founded Federal Express. Apple wasn’t even in the phone business before 2007, and Tesla was founded in 2003. George believes somebody is going to attempt the impossible and revolutionize many industries in the next 10 years. The question he leaves us with is – will that be you?

George Blankenship was a keynote speaker at the Premier Business Leadership Series conference.

tags: analytics, best practices, leadership, premier business leadership series