How To Merge Purpose And Insights When Building Your Team

The first findings of MB Vermeer Insights2020 study pinpoint 10 success factors common to the best brands.

How To Merge Purpose And Insights When Building Your Team

Insights from more than 10,000 marketers in Millward Brown Vermeer’s Insights2020 study show that a customer-centric brand purpose and data-driven decision-making are cornerstones of powerful brands. But how can a company reflect these success factors when building a marketing team?

Building the perfect marketing team is a big challenge for any CMO, which is why Millward Brown Vermeer has teamed up with the Advertising Research Foundation, ESOMAR, and Korn Ferry to develop the Insights2020 global marketing leadership initiative.

Based on interviews and stats from across the industry, the project aims to develop strategic frameworks and practical guidelines for driving business growth.

In our first wave of data, released in late 2015, the project outlines 10 success factors the best brands have in common and how CMOs can leverage these to build their teams and shape their recruitment strategies. Among these, two leading themes emerge: a consumer-centric brand purpose and data-driven decision- making.

Purpose Over Products

The “total experience” —that is, delivering an all-encompassing customer experience that reflects a genuine brand purpose—has overtaken basic product/service delivery as the key driver of brand success, according to the Insights2020 findings. Eight out of 10 overperforming brands are invested in ensuring that all activities are purpose-led, compared to only a third of underperformers. The research defines over/underperformance based on company revenue growth versus its competitors.

The eco-friendly cleaning brand Method is a good example, set around the idea of being “against dirty.” Using biodegradable, non-toxic ingredients to create its products, the brand involves consumers in its crusade against dirt, not just in household cleaning but in the broader sense of the world around them.

The Insights2020 report also found that to succeed with a brand purpose strategy, a brand will need to reflect customer obsession in all parts of the organisation. This becomes evident when almost half (45%) of the overperforming brands use customer-related KPIs to help manage their businesses.

Successful brands must also clearly and consistently project the brand purpose out to consumers at all times. For Method, this means being involved in environmental discussions such as ocean plastic and climate change in the media. The approach lets the brand tap into a large source of like-minded consumers with the same purpose as itself.

This purpose-led customer obsession is the essential starting point when building a marketing team. From the top and all the way through an organisation, team members should genuinely share the brand’s values and believe in its raison d’être. This will result in getting all the details right across brand touch points.

Data-Driven Insights

Brand purpose and the “total experience” aren’t enough to succeed, however, without a decision-making structure centred on data. This is another main lesson from the Insights2020 research, where overperforming brands are found to be much more likely to use data-driven insights to customise their offers than underperforming ones (73% vs. 31%).

Retailer Argos’s managing director has publicly stated that all brands need to embrace data-driven insights to reach consumers at the right place and at the right time. Putting this into practice, Argos’s teams have pushed strongly for campaigns around click-and-collect in its new shopper strategy. By also introducing same-day delivery seven days a week, the brand has used its data to understand what its consumers value the most.

Even though big data and intelligent data have been hot topics for some time now, there is a danger of these catchalls hiding how brands can actually use data to make decisions. A good indicator of success for a brand’s ability to use data is having a team with the capabilities to understand which different data sets can be integrated and fruitfully analysed against each other.

This data focus is equally important in the upper and lower parts of an organisational hierarchy. A key question to ask, and often a strong indicator of a successful brand, is whether insights and analysis are genuinely a priority for the C-level team. And also all the way down to the shop floor. For Argos and its senior leadership, it’s clearly so—and the brand is reaping the benefits, with strong growth figures reported in each of the last three years, even in the middle of its digital transformation process.

Building The Team

What all of this means for building your team is that the marketing generalist is decreasingly relevant. The most effective teams have highly creative people who can bring the brand’s purpose to life in exciting ways and dream up opportunities in data, as well as highly analytical people with the know-how to realise these opportunities.

For recruitment, this probably means fewer staff who are tech-competent creatives or slightly creative techies. Instead, brands should select one or the other with each individual appointment. This, of course, leaves one big challenge once the team is assembled, and that is communicating between the technical and creative parts of the team.

The solution here is first to hire people with strong communications skills and second to look for managers with the ability to bridge “techies” and “creative,” and ensure they communicate and work well together. Only by making the two groups join forces will the data-driven approach help a company grow.