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Five things I've learned about innovation (from a marketer's perspective)

There are a few things in life that are regarded as big decisions. Moving overseas, getting married, having kids, buying a house – and changing careers.

Having recently gone through all those things in a relatively short sequence (of a couple of years), I have to admit that there were times when I felt way out of my comfort zone. Luckily, I also discovered through that process I learned quite a lot about myself and others – and had a whole lot of fun!

Changing careers has been the most recent change for me as I stepped out of my Brand Manager job to join the Client Development team at Intergen (Empired's New Zealand operation). It’s been a decision a long time in the making and a transition I have planned for quite a while.

Having seen the amazing potential technology can have to enable better, more intelligent business and transform people’ s lives I found it too exciting to resist the urge to get more closely involved. So last week I started on a new journey joining the fantastic team at Intergen Dunedin.

Customer centric marketing

And since I'm wrapping up eight years of my marketing career and it's kind of a big deal for me, I thought it's the perfect time to recap on what I've learned during that time – about innovation, marketing and everything in between.

My top five things I learned about innovation:

1. Relationships matter - more than ever before

There has been a lot written about building business relationships. For the majority of businesses this comes as a no brainer - connecting with your customer, distributor, supplier and building those relationships is fundamental to getting anything done these days.

But there is another reason why forging great connections across your supply chain is becoming more important than ever before - and it has to do with data. Or more precisely, access to it.

We live in an age when customers' expectations increase day by day, and everyone demands individual personalised service. That is all well and good if you are an e-commerce business with access to a myriad of data sets about your leads and customers and you are a pro in data analytics. But what if you operate at the more traditional end of the market, selling through physical distribution channels? What if e-commerce is not exactly your domain (or not yet)? Where do you find your customer insights?

Well, the obvious answer is: from people who are closest to the customer. What I've found is that having great relationships across your distribution chain and being able to tap into data from distributors, sales reps (even those not directly employed by you!) and other business partners can give you a really powerful advantage.

Plenty of data can be shared to the mutual benefit of both parties and turned into actionable goals, which can then lead to a better customer experience, innovation and ultimately a healthier bottom line.

2. Building relationships at a scale can be hard

Now, the thing I have learned the hard way (many long nights and Excel spreadsheets included) is that building customer relationships at a scale of a large organisation can turn into a major challenge.

One of the reasons why this is becoming more relevant is because many businesses across a wide range of industries are faced with a growing consumer trend towards buying local. While big name brands might have the obvious competitive advantage in their scale and the width of distribution, smaller local producers have the edge when it comes to consumers’ inherent preferences.

What does that mean for the big players? Have you noticed how many brands claim that they are customer/consumer centric? Many? Most?

I don't know the answer to that but the real question I have asked myself as a marketer is – can I, hand on heart, deliver to that promise? How do I develop a real customer-centric brand with finite resources, address buyer dynamic, build content, campaigns and design personalised user experiences? Can technology help me do that? Absolutely. To pull it off at a scale, I've found that being supported by some type of connected marketing automation, having a great CRM and making a good use of analytical tools is absolutely essential – and the key to success.

I've learned that technology can enable processes to be automated, which in turn leads to better productivity, higher reach and bigger impact. I personally find martech (the space where marketing and tech cross over) one of the most exciting fields to be involved in. That is where the action is happening right now and where companies will be making their biggest leaps forward in the next 10 years. And it's incredibly exciting to be a part of it.

3. We are all in a learning phase

The fact that technology is disrupting just about every industry in NZ is hardly breaking news. Volumes of data are increasing exponentially, challenging businesses to adopt new systems to acquire and analyse data.

The great and exciting thing about being a part of this movement is that we are all in a learning phase. Businesses are learning which data to collect, store and analyse. Unless the company is fully based on e-commerce, which naturally has fully digital approach they are probably standing in front of the biggest opportunity they have ever had – to develop their 2019 business strategy around customer experience. I think that the adoption of user-centric strategies will be what makes the difference between companies and brands in five years.

4. The winning customer experience formula

Having been involved in marketing taught me just how many brand messages an average person is exposed to each day. It's somewhere around 10,000 a day which is way too much for most of us to pay any attention.

I honestly believe that the only way to break through that clutter and stand out in this super-saturated market is through ruthless personalisation and simplification of content.

In other words: winning CX = efficient data analysis > personalisation > simplification

5. Dream big - it's all about the long term

One thing I found to be true is that people often overestimate the effects of technology in the short term but underestimate the impact in the long term.

I was born 32 years ago in the former Czechoslovakia. Yes, it was under the Soviet communist rule back then. We had a black and white TV and at that time my parents would not have dreamt of their daughter ever setting a foot outside Europe, let alone in New Zealand.

Since then the country has seen some of the most amazing transformation to a prosperous market economy with plenty of new investment flowing into the region each year.

Now try to imagine what the world will be like in 32 years. It will be year 2050! The truth is nobody really knows but what we can do is get ready to embrace the change – and dream big.


This blog is part of the #cxreimagine series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download the whitepaper, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download the whitepaper, click the banner #cxreimagine

Posted by: Katerina Thomas, Client Manager, Intergen | 27 August 2018

Tags: customer experience, Customer Centric, Marketing, #CXreimagine

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