The retail marketer’s toolbox is filling up with new platforms, gadgets and slick technology faster than you can say “pin it.” Over the last year, we’ve only seen social and mobile grow in importance for retailers, leading to lots of questions, but also lots of room for creativity. And since May is Marketing Month, we wanted to get a CMO’s perspective on where this social and mobile wave is taking us.
We turned to Jay Dunn, chief marketing officer for Bare Necessities, to find out. Dunn, who is moderating a webinar on ensuring brand consistency across channels for Marketing Month, is a RAMA board member, former vice president of marketing for Lane Bryant, co-author of The Art of Social Sales, and frequent contributor to SocialMediaToday.com. Read on below as Dunn shares why real marketing success will only come from a “transmedia” approach, his opinion on the most impressive retail marketing campaign of the year as well as his secret strategy to getting the best work from his creative team.
With the increasing importance of mobile and social marketing to retailers over the last few years, how has the role of the Chief Marketing Officer changed and evolved?
In 2008, I provided a chapter for an e-book called The Art of Social Sales, where I described a business model for social media ROI, which I called “Dunn’s Equation.” Four years later, many retailers are still tangled up chasing an ROI model while market share slips to their competitors. The same inaction is happening in mobile. The question for the C-suite is not whether you can afford to fund marketing in social media and mobile. It’s whether you can afford not to. It’s a simple premise: Go where your customers are while they’re still your customers.
Mobile and social have revolutionized the way people shop. What excites you most about where these channels are taking us? What are we going to be talking about five years from now?
Social media allows companies to interact with customers like nothing before. But mobility is where the true transformation of retail is occurring. Forget about phones, tablets, and devices in general. The goal of retail should be focused on the untethered connectivity of consumers and the behavior of not just multiple screens, but simultaneous screens.
How does your company message the mom sitting in the bleachers watching her daughter’s soccer game while checking email on her cell phone and planning her calendar on her iPad? How does your company message a shopper while they’re still looking for a parking spot at the mall, and get her to park near your door, with your coupon on her phone? How do you use email, mobile, social, and the power of a digital footprint to create a “transmedia” effect, where channels tell parts of the story and combine to a greater result?
Five years from now will be like any other five-year period. A few retailers will be case studies, most won’t.
The integration of social, mobile, print, interactive and everything else has opened up so many possibilities. As a CMO, how do you make sure everything comes together across channels to build a consistent brand?
I’m giving a presentation to a few groups around the country this year entitled “Transmedia: The Transformation of Retail Marketing.” Hollywood and the movie industry started the idea of transmedia, which is storytelling across multiple forms of media, with each element making distinctive contributions to the end result. As a multichannel retailer, the concept of transmedia becomes the strategy by which to engage your customers via multiple and simultaneous screens, combined with digital/interactive, e-commerce, and traditional advertising and marketing. Mobile – or the actuality of “mobility” – is at the center of this strategy.
When it comes to marketing, are there any areas where you think a lot of retailers are either missing the boat, jumping the gun or missing the point?
No, not predominantly. I think many marketers are quick to jump on fads or new shiny objects, but one has to test drive these ideas to validate whether they have real application in a marketing toolbox. For instance, I passed on opportunities like Shopkick and Foursquare, but was really early on social media and mobile. The latter two have become extremely profitable and important channels.
Tell us about the retail marketing campaigns over the last year that have most impressed you.
Ron Johnson’s JCPenney strategy is the most interesting branding and marketing endeavor in retail, in my opinion. Particularly in the department store space, one can instantly understand the logic of “fair and square” pricing. Whether customers get the message and whether they respond or not, is yet to be seen. It’s a smart and bold strategy, but retail has trained consumers for generations that deals and sales equal value, so time will tell if JCP can create a new consumer understanding.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve worked with and for many smart people, so I don’t want to sound ungrateful. But I’ve always enjoyed the G.K. Chesterton quote: “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” When it comes to creativity and marketing, the second to the party usually loses. Bill Clinton said he’d rather be “strong and wrong than weak and right,” so that about sums up my ethic.
What’s your formula for getting the best creative work from your marketing team?
I started as a creative, a graphic designer. I worked my way up the chain as an art director, creative director, copywriter, etc. I probably have an advantage over some CMOs since I can jump into Photoshop with the best of them. That doesn’t mean I’m any good anymore, but the threat of me designing the next catalog cover is usually enough to get my creative team to the next level.
Get more insights from Jay Dunn in his webinar on May 9, and check out the other workshops, webinars and dinners that dive into social and mobile marketing during May is Marketing Month. Lots of them are free for retailers.