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Customer-Centricity: Does it mean distinct marketing and communications departments are a thing of the past?


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*** To download the full white paper, go to ***

This is part two of Incite's new briefing on the core issues for marketers and communicators in 2013.

In this section of the briefing, 300 corporate executives lend insight on the impact customer-centricity is having on internal workflows and organisational models.

With 8 pages, and lots of charts and graphs, we look at how

1) Marketing and Communications functions are merging
2) What is explaining this push to convergence
3) Why Communications needs marketing more than marketing needs them
4) Why B2B companies want convergence more than B2Cs

To download the entire briefing, go to

Published in: Business, News & Politics
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Customer-Centricity: Does it mean distinct marketing and communications departments are a thing of the past?

  1. 1. Join the conversation it meandistinctmarketing andcommunicationsdepartmentsare a thingof the past?The Marketing ANDCommunications CommunityTough questions, insightful answers
  2. 2. Convergence between Marketing and Communications Functions3Join the conversation at data, social media and customer-centricitywill drive a merging of the marketing andcommunications departmentsOver the last few months, we at Incite have been conducting in-depth research with over 80 senior marketing andcommunications executives.Since then, we’ve run several surveys and questionnaires to attach some solid statistics to our more qualitativefindings from our conversations with practitioners.In this piece, I’ll investigate the first major finding from our work.Marketing and Communications Functions are MergingPerhaps the most obvious, and pressing, development for senior marketing and communications executives in2013 is the continued blurring of the lines between the two functions.It was a common refrain throughout our research - “The challenge is how both functions work more closely in alignment, and leverage each others’ resources” “What we’re saying internally is that with the advent of social, with multiple media channels, that lines blurbetween traditional marketing, PR and Communications” “The customer doesn’t care where the info is from, just that they can get that info easily” “One of our key challenges this year is integration - between brand, PR, communications, and marketing, toensure a better joined up response and message to a more demanding set of customers”As we can see from the chart below, the surveys we’ve run back up the findings. A huge 92% of respondents saidthat multiple departments “must work better together for an enhanced, unified customer experience”.Must multiple-departments workbetter together for anenhanced customerexperience?92% YES8% NO
  3. 3. Convergence between Marketing and Communications Functions4Join the conversation at significant proportion - 56% - are more specific, declaring that it is ‘very important’ for marketing andcommunications departments to collaborate and integrate better over 2013.How important is itfor Marketing andCommunicationsDepartments towork more closely?14% QUITE IMPORTANT56% VERY IMPORTANT5% NOT IMPORTANT25% IMPORTANTWhat explains this push to convergence?So why has internal departmental convergence, collaboration and integration become such a pressing concern forsenior marketers and communicators?There are two relatively new pressures on both groups, and they’re blurring the lines between two previouslydistinct departmentsThe external pressureIn large part because of the rise of social media, consumers increasingly expect to be able to speak to a brand aseasily as they speak to a friend - and more importantly, to get a response and build a relationship.Your consumers expect that when they mention your brand on Twitter, then call you, and then send you a followup message over Facebook, that you’ll join the dots. And that’s a real challenge when social adoption is sofragmented, particularly in larger businesses who usually have tens of social accounts, run by different individualsin different teams.One obvious answer is to unify that approach. Considering the marketing and communications teams are thosepredominantly responsible for outreach on behalf of a brand, it follows that they should work together to managethese communication channels (with the possible addition of customer service - and even IT - departments).The internal pressureAgain, social plays a role here - though big data is becoming increasingly important. Companies now have anunrivalled ability to track, monitor - and understand - their customer in far greater depth than ever before. To takethe example above, once your business can track customer interactions over multiple channels, one is able to spottrends, brewing crises, and new business opportunities.But for this to work, those many departments who monitor different big data sets - IT, customer service, productdevelopment, customer insight, marketing, customer service - must ensure that data flows uninterrupted betweeneach other. More importantly, that learning is shared between these departments.Marketing and communications, as the two functions with arguably the most to gain from a more in-depth andnuanced understanding of the consumer, should be spearheading this unification.
  4. 4. Convergence between Marketing and Communications Functions5Join the conversation at Needs Marketing More Than Marketing Needs ThemWhen we begin to look a little deeper, some interesting further trends emerge:‘Very Important’for Marketing andCommunications towork more closely42% MARKETING58% COMMUNICATIONSWhen one breaks out the respondents from Communications and Marketing functions, there is a striking differenceof opinion. 65% of communications execs say that it is ‘very important’ to work better with marketing in 2013, andyet only 48% of their peers in marketing believe the same.Why? Is Marketing the function with more power within business? It’s certainly true that CMOs are more oftenresponsible for Communications departments than CCOs responsible for marketers.B2B companies want convergence more than B2CsIt’s critical to do betterinternal collaboration93% B2B 86% B2CSurprisingly, 93% of B2B companies say they need to do better internal collaboration, compared to 86% of B2Cs.Admittedly, the difference is slight and the result over both business types is emphatic, but B2B respondents witha similar level of desire for convergence is surprising, let alone more desire.Why surprising? A core pillar of the argument for more convergence is to deliver a more unified voice to theconsumer. B2C companies, with more individual consumers, with what tends to be a broader and ‘higher volume’external communications approach, would seem more naturally pressured by a need for this convergence.
  5. 5. Convergence between Marketing and Communications Functions6Join the conversation at convergence is more important than external convergenceWhen one talks of ‘convergence’, it is tempting to play with semantics and broaden the term to incorporate‘customer-centric’ characteristics - and start to look at convergence between the corporate and the consumer - interms of closer alignment, understanding, product delivery etc.Considering the rampant popularity of the buzzword ‘customer-centric’, one would assume the passion for this‘external convergence’ would be significantly higher than the more boring ‘desiloisation’ needed for internalcollaboration.It is importantto do better...EXTERNALCOLLABORATIONINTERNALCOLLABORATION92%92%It’s not. Companies view both internal and external collaboration as just as important as each other.A note on definitions of ‘customer-centricity’ and ‘external collaboration’One could read these results as a more cautious reading of what ‘customer-centricity’ means for a corporateaudience. The ideal espoused by Bob Thompson of Customer Think is of a ‘customer-inspired’ business, which“Thinks deeply about what customers are trying to accomplish in their business and personal lives, and create newways to add value before they ask”But perhaps corporate practitioners’ understanding of ‘customer-centricity’ is lower down Thompson’s “Customer-Centric Pyramid” - at the ‘Customer-Driven’ phase:customerINSPIREDcustomerENGAGEDcustomerDRIVENcustomerFOCUSEDHow customer-centric is yourbusiness?CopyrightCustomerThinkCorp
  6. 6. Convergence between Marketing and Communications Functions7Join the conversation at“We regularly get customer feedback, prioritize key issues and work to improve customer satisfaction with theproducts and services we sell, to minimise customer attrition”Thompson feels that the higher up the pyramid, the better for the business. Again, perhaps this is one assumptiontoo far. What do you think? What is the ideal level of customer-centricity?
  7. 7. Secure your place with our ultra-early bird passesand SAVE $895 on your ticket at www.incitemc.comThe Incite 2013 #IMCSummitSeptember 18-19, New YorkYour sneak peek into how the Incite 2013 Summit is shaping up!Map the Future of Multi-channel,Customer-centric Marketingand Communicationsat a glance: Insight on some of the big issues…AGENDAThe Customer-Centric FutureChange yourcorporate culture tofocus better on thecustomerMoving Customer-Centric WithoutCausing ChaosGet a customer-centricinternal organisationthat’s simple, notcomplexHow To Listen,So You Can TalkBack BetterGet more usefulinsight about yourcustomers, anduse it to do betterCommunicationsBuild UniqueCustomer ExperiencesManage a complexCommunicationslandscape and integratemany channels to buildone effective stake-holder experienceLess Silos =More SuccessBreak down internalbarriers and geteveryone singing fromthe same hymn sheetwe have already confirmed to contributeSPEAKERSSony ElectronicsMike FasuloChief Marketing OfficerAflacMichael ZunaChief Marketing OfficerSearsJennifer DominiquiniChief Marketing Officer(Seasonal and OutdoorLiving)Restaurant.comChristopher KrohnChief Marketing OfficerArby’sRussell KleinChief Marketing OfficerBASFRobin RotenbergChief CommunicationsOfficerMetLifeClaire BurnsChief Customer OfficerChobaniNicki BriggsChief CommunicationsOfficerEricsson/CoinstarNora DenzelNon-Executive DirectorCitigroupBen EylerVice-President, Marketingand CommunicationsBarnes NobleSasha NorkinVice-President, Digitaland Channel MarketingHome DepotFred NeilVice-President,Marketing, CRM andCustomer InsightsDiageoMichelle KleinVice-President, GlobalMarketing (Smirnoff)Hewlett PackardRob WaitVice-President, MarketingWhole FoodsBill TolanyHead of IntegratedMarketingYum BrandsAmy SherwoodVice-President, PublicRelations and ConsumerAffairsSprintDoug DuvallVice-President,CorporateCommunicationsCardinal HealthcareJill LaNouetteVice-President,Public AffairsMcDonald’sHeather OldaniHead of USCommunicationsNestleDoug HawkinsVice-President,Public Affairs Policy (Nutrition)
  8. 8. Who are we?• A community of corporate marketing and communications professionals• A strident editor of debate• A tool for you to drive the future of marketing and communicationsWhat do we do?• We bring together senior marketing and communications executives -online and in person• We work with you to ask them the questions you need answering• We share those answers, and spark a debate• We help you do better marketing and communicationsWe incite challenging debate. We find the best corporateminds. You ask the questions.COLLABORATE NOWGet more at incitemc.comIncIteThe Marketing ANDCommunications CommunityTough questions, insightful answers