I’ll never forget the first time a client asked my team NOT to provide recommendations that could be implemented in the next year or even two. Instead, our directive was to ignore the client’s known hurdles and limitations (technology, data, budget, content, creative, organizational, etc,…) and help them paint a picture of success in the distant future. In the client’s own words: “Show me what GREAT looks like”.
What a relief! As many clients love “best practices” and other tangible evidence of marketing being done better, an inordinate amount of agency time is spent cultivating deck upon deck of examples across every marketing discipline, which clients typically then use internally to influence initiatives, support business cases and justify budget requests. Having spent time in both roles (agency & client), I can certainly empathize with the need to be informed of what’s happening: ie. who’s doing it well? But without a vision for “great” – the best you can hope for is to emulate “good”. And good typically isn’t enough in today’s competitive landscape.
In our client’s situation and, as is so often the case for many marketing organizations, the IT roadmap hung like a dark cloud over the marketing team’s ambitions for a more personalized and engaging customer experience. No doubt – there is value in piecing together incremental improvements to an existing marketing ecosystem. However, to allow yourself and your team to shed the reality of today’s ecosystem constraints and envision what the customer’s experience could be like 5 years from now – is a hugely valuable exercise. Here’s how to get started:
- Brainstorm the Future State: Invest time to bring your team together with cross functional partners to ideate. Set the stage from the very beginning: we’re looking for great…the best ever.
- Be the Customer: Use this opportunity to re-boot and/or energize discussion on the customer’s perspective and experience. (a journey mapping exercise is a useful tool for this)
- Share the Story: Start sharing the initial vision with a broader set of partners. Invest in creative talent to bring a set of customer scenarios to life. The resulting dialog can have broad implications with both upper and lower levels of the organization.