A Guest Post By Megan Harris, Managing Director, SYZYGY North America
For many companies today, being global describes far more than the geographies in which they operate. Increasingly, it means taking action to bring about change or maintain valuable aspects of the status quo. Unlike before, corporate action isn’t just lobbying for laws and regulations that increase their profits. Today, companies are compelled by their consumers to do more for society’s common good.
The Biggest Changes for Marketers in a New Era of Global
In the New Era of Global, the biggest changes come with a different set of expectations; what consumers expect from their brands and what brands expect from themselves. You might even say that global businesses are joining with citizens to pick up where government leaves off by taking on new responsibilities.
As the face of the company, marketers see their roles changing to fit this new environment. Some marketers are doing more than just articulating a purpose – they are honing messaging, acting on their positions, courting controversy by taking a stand, sometimes along ideological lines. They are offering moral leadership where regional and national governments are failing to do what their consumers want and need. They reflect the values of their consumers and use their power to act.
For example, in the heated climate surrounding gun violence and legislature, several companies have taken a stand in opposition to the NRA in the U.S. Hertz and AVIS are among the latest global giants to do so by cutting ties with gun lobbyists as the movement for stricter gun laws gains momentum. More and more companies realize the importance of aligning with customer values. Customers today are inclined to select brands that stand for what they believe in and what they value. Building a successful marketing campaign is now synonymous with adopting a leadership role that motivates people.
Tips for Taking Action
Here are several action steps marketers can take to navigate the challenges, build stronger bonds with customers and thrive in the new era of global.
- Pay attention to ethics. While the Facebook data breaches continue to grab headlines, technology plays a big and valuable role in these changing times for marketers. Throughout its history, digital technology has always been a catalyst for companies to reach their customers. It allows businesses to scale personalized interactions. For instance, global brands who do business in Europe are leading the way as they work to comply this year with GDPR’s requirements for greater consumer privacy and transparency. Also consider the exploding progress of artificial intelligence and how it can be used to implement marketing practices that are both effective and ethical. AI can build trust and help people make better purchase decisions based on their genuine needs gathered by unbiased and truthful information. Utilizing AI in marketing must also be done in a way that does not deceive or manipulate the consumer, as shown in the four pillars of ethics and morals , found in the Sex, lies and A.I. study conducted by SYZYGY.
- Help customers raise their voices. As a leader, brands must empower their customers to be leaders as well. Companies have a real purpose beyond the bottom line to help consumers build and raise their voices. To do this, you must know your customers and take a stance based on their collective beliefs. It is the time for brands to be courageous, and to be the brand voices that stand up for their consumers and encourage them to stand up for themselves. These brands are poised to win more hearts and minds and combat the rise of upstart national brands.
- Focus on transparency and address fake news. To build trust, in a landscape of media mistrust, brands need to address the fake news currently swarming different media outlets. According to Peter Weingard, CMO of New York Public Radio, many people can no longer discern the sources of news and if they are fake or real. At the Brite Conference in 2018, Weingard discussed how people have trouble understanding that Facebook, or any other social media platform, is not a news source in itself. In an age where the human attention span is down to eight seconds, technology and media companies focus primarily on producing addicting content. This is a worrying concept for many, as seven in 10 people worry about fake news being used as a weapon. For this reason, it is your job as a marketer to guide your brands to support what is real and unbiased, and to follow suit with openness and transparency.
- Be global but act locally. To succeed in this global era, brands must also act locally. Take the time to give back by volunteering and unmasking the humanitarian efforts on a more localized level. Let your customers see the good you are doing, so they believe in your brand, and you can strengthen your bond and build trust. You are winning trust through localization by reaching individuals on a more personal and connected level. This is exactly what KEEN Footwear, Inc. achieved when it helped the local California area affected by wildfire by teaming up with BareBones WorkWear to raise money for the victims in Northern California. They established a GoFundMe account with a goal of $25,000, of which the proceeds went to the United Way of the Wine Country.
Moving Forward as Stronger Marketers
Technology and globalization help any business reach their consumer in new ways, and they will continue to have profound impact on society. With machine learning and automation of AI, marketers must be ready for new challenges. Simultaneously, they can embrace the potential of AI as new businesses emerge that couldn’t before. There will always be challenges, fears and concerns. However, using these tips in the New Era of Global will help you create deeper engagement, foster greater advocacy, raise your voices together on important issues, and attract more customers because you align to their values.
Megan Harris is Managing Director of SYZYGY North America, a digital agency which is partially owned by WPP. Megan moved to lead SYZYGY’s New York office after nine years with Razorfish, where she headed media in the EMEA region and sat on the Razorfish Board of Europe. She has won numerous awards for her work with brands such as Starwood Resorts, Ralph Lauren, Mondelez, and Avis.