How to Build a Humanistic Marketing Ecosystem

In my last post, Rise of the (Marketing) Machines: How to Tame Them, I discussed the challenge marketing leaders face in bridging the gap between the journey experience their audience expects and the technology requirements to deliver on those expectations. While the first step in bridging that gap is to find the right members of the team that can straddle both marketing strategy and technology discussions, it’s also important that we look at how we evaluate the technology ecosystem we are building to support our customer experiences.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of software providers seeking to capture the growing CMO budget. Scott Brinker of notes that, in 2016, we saw an approximate growth of 87% over 2015 to an already crowded marketing technology landscape. Making the situation more confusing is that this market is still maturing and is rife with mergers, acquisitions, bankruptcies, and new entrants —making it tough for even the most seasoned professional to keep track of market leaders. Adding to the difficulty is that the marketing departments for these vendors are constantly coming up with new terms under which to market their wares.

In my mind, it appears as most of these software vendors are effectively in a race to the middle, meaning that they are all adding the same capabilities to their offerings until it becomes difficult for us to differentiate one platform’s capabilities from the next. It’s often not until we are well into the evaluation process that we realize that we already have the capability (or capabilities) within our existing tools and platforms. So how do we take control of the conversation back from vendors that are trying to dazzle us with the latest industry buzzwords and get to the heart of what matters?

At Harte Hanks, when we talk about bringing the human back to marketing, we talk a lot about what a humanistic marketing ecosystem looks like. Rather than try to sort through the alphabet soup that has dominated the IT industry for years, and is now starting to be foisted upon marketers, we prefer to think of the ecosystem as requiring 5 capability groups.

Building Towards a Humanistic Marketing Ecosystem

The 5 layers of our ideal ecosystem break down as follows:

  • Content Production & Management — The ability to create compelling, resonant content by leveraging experts from within and outside the brand, while managing that content so that it remains relevant to the audience. This is the foundation of today’s modern marketing.
  • Channel Orchestration — Consumers jump from one channel to another along their journey without giving it a second thought and expect brands to deliver a consistent and seamless experience as the relationship progresses.
  • Contextual Intelligence — Today’s audience is well-aware that their every move is able to be tracked. In return, they expect brands to leverage this data intelligently to assist them in their individual buyer journey.
  • Message Delivery & Personalization — The ability to deliver messages and content on the channels of choice is no longer good enough. Sophisticated consumers expect brands to be able to leverage the shared data to personalize the channel experience to their place in the journey.
  • Business Insights — Today’s marketer is faced with an overwhelming amount of data in an age of real-time engagement. The ability to turn that data into the knowledge necessary to understand the small data that distinguishes an anomaly from a trend is a critical component in a rapidly changing marketplace.


diagram of martech for human marketing


Putting It All Together

We have an overwhelming number of tools and technologies available to help us efficiently interact with customers on every channel. However, technology can take us only so far. By considering the stack in these 5 key areas, we can evaluate the tools in a customer-centric manner — thereby creating a truly holistic ecosystem of technology and data that serves the customer while, at the same time, serving the marketer.

Look for my next article where we will explore in greater detail the first layer in the ecosystem: Content Production & Management.

Top 5 Brand Activations at Coachella 2017

Matt at Coachella

At Genuine, we take tremendous pride in the creative and innovative work we produce for our clients. And, when it comes to experiential marketing, our agency goes above and beyond to deliver unimaginable digital activations that drive the “ah-ha” factor, loads of engagement and a ton of brand awareness. When I booked my trip to Coachella, yes, I was excited to party and have fun. However, as a .Net Developer and self-proclaimed marketing nerd, I also was really looking forward to seeing how today’s brands were marketing themselves to the cool kids in the desert.

After taking some time to reflect, here’s a list of my top five activations ranked from least to most favorite.

1. Sephora

The What:

  • Get in-the-desert haircuts and/or hairstyling
  • Find your new go-to makeup look using Sephora’s latest products
  • Get your face artfully painted (think graffiti or splash paint vs lion or kitten)

Sephora at Coachella The Why: Sephora + Coachella go together like milk + cookies. It just makes sense, and the fashion-forward crowd loved it.

Did it work: I’d say so. Admittedly, I’m not really the target audience for this brand, but I had to fight my way in and out of a packed tent just to grab some photos. Lots of people walking around with face paint at the Fest, and there was a decent line for hair styling all day. Braids anyone?

2. American Express

The What:

  • Record your very own kick-ass music video. Utilizing a camera attached to a robotic arm, attendees were recorded busting out their best dance moves while jamming to some of their fave songs. *Note: you can catch my masterpiece below.
  • AMEX members were treated to VIP upgrades and free meals throughout the festival.

American Express at Coachella

The Why: AMEX provided an unforgettable experience for current cardholders while attracting some new ones, too.

Did it work: Surprisingly, their tent wasn’t as slammed as I expected, but I did visit this tent earlier in the day. That said, the activation was really innovative and cool.

3. H&M

The What:

  • To debut their limited-edition “H&M Loves Coachella” line for men and women, H&M created a pop-up shop with virtual fitting rooms that placed attendees in these cool new wearables. If you liked the look, attendees could purchase and walk away with their new digs.
  • Take photos on an enormous armchair
  • Recycle your old clothes for the new ones you just purchased
  • Fill up your water bottle for free!

H&M at Coachella The Why: What better way to cater to this crowd than with their very own limited-edition clothing line? There was a ton of buzz at the event regarding the fast-selling apparel, and purchasers who scored merch had bragging rights for life.

Did it work: Absolutely yes! In addition to the clothing line and virtual fitting rooms, the H&M water refill station (1 of 5 at the event), ensured their tent was constantly packed.

4. Marriott Hotels, Marriott Rewards

The What:

  • Take photos in front of various backdrops and imagine all the fun places you can visit while staying at a Marriott. Think hot deserts, gorgeous beaches and snowy mountain vistas.  
  • Play their Tinder-like quiz game to find your dream destination. Swipe as many times as I did (which was a lot), and win points toward your next Marriott vacation.  
  • For Marriott Gold/Elite members, get special VIP access to meal vouchers, a makeup touchup station and even a personal wipe-down service for your sunnies.

Marriott at Coachella The Why: Marriott was on hand to secure Rewards email signups, engage current Rewards members and promote their premier hotels in some pretty rad locales.

Did it work: Yes! The photo sets were engaging and the incentives were too good to pass up. What guy or girl crazy enough to travel to the desert for a weekend would want to miss out on a free hotel stay during their next adventure?

5. HP/Intel

The What:

  • Design your own custom bandana  — a fashionable AND handy accessory in that dusty heat — using a HP touchscreen computer, printed on site.
  • Demo HP’s VR display
  • Choreograph a light show projected on the ceiling of the dome using HP touchscreen computers
  • Take a near 360 degree “Kinetic Portrait” which created a super cool and very shareable effect.

The Why: Give festival goers a first-hand experience with the best tech HP offers.

Did it work: Hell yeah! This was my absolute favorite. There was a constant hour-long line for the bandanas all weekend long and the kinetic portraits looked perfect on Instagram. HP’s presence at the Festival was second to none and truly stole the show. All of the activities HP provided for attendees were creative, engaging and extremely popular. Throughout the entire weekend there was a constant line snaking out from HP’s activation tent, which is a true testament to its success.

Bonus Activation Located at Other End of Festival: HP, along with Intel, also presented a new experience at Coachella, “The Antarctic.” Situated in a large dome at the edge of the festival, attendees could recline on bean bag chairs in a massive dome and enjoy a psychedelic experience. Coachella has since published a 360° video on their Youtube channel for those who missed it. Note: I highly recommend watching using Google Cardboard or other VR goggles.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the brands on-site at the Festival did a great job captivating the Coachella audience this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s sponsors bring to the festival.

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The post Top 5 Brand Activations at Coachella 2017 appeared first on Genuine.

[Vlog] 5 Tips to Hiring an Agency

In this vlog we address an FAQ by CEOs, directors, managers, solopreneurs and university students after completing a deep dive into the many facets of digital marketing. “How do I hire an agency to help me?” These are our top tips. Heads up: These also work if you’re looking for a good agency to work for. #1: Look […]

The post [Vlog] 5 Tips to Hiring an Agency appeared first on 97th Floor.

The Chief Creative Job Has a Murky Future at Big Brands

A crowd gathered in Minneapolis last week to watch a panel discussion on the rise of the chief creative officer. Creative had been making a move into the C-suite at big marketers including Best Buy, Target and General Mills in recent years. Planned since the fall, the event drew more than 120 attendees from both agencies and brands.

There was only one problem: By the time the program began, two of the three speakers had left their CCO roles.

In the last five years, the role of a top creative at companies has been gaining ground as a brand necessity, especially as the scope of CMO responsibilities have widened. Yet the last two months have seen the two high-profile departures in Tom Nowak, CCO at Best Buy since 2015, and Michael Fanuele, CCO at General Mills since 2014. As brands struggle for a balance between science and creativity and manage costs accordingly brand innovation jobs are in an uncertain place.

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