Was it really a generation ago? Two historic marketing campaigns, the Macintosh 1984 advertising for Apple and The Pepsi Challenge left an enduring mark on the marketing landscape.
As president of Pepsi Cola and CEO of Apple, John Sculley was involved with each. I checked in with him recently for his thoughts on the current state of marketing.
Paul Talbot: How is marketing strategy changing and why?
John Sculley: Marketing strategy used to be almost entirely about how marketeers could motivate consumer behavior in ways that would drive adoption, consumption, and loyalty with a particular consumer brand. Positioning, price-value, unique selling proposition, channel choices, are examples. The marketing world wasn’t complex and marketeers with brilliant creative talents ruled the industry.
Today, marketeers must design their marketing strategy to take advantage of opportunities for ‘systemic transformational change.’ The business architecture for big brand consumer companies for the rest of this century will require end-to-end technology platforms.
In this context, operative words will be ‘everything is connected and everything is integrated.’ Amazon has understood the implications of these enabling changes for some time. For example, their 100 million Amazon Prime loyalty members are rewarded with many special incentives just for them. The consequences are, Amazon has unwrapped and unpacked what it means to have an exceptional consumer brand experience.
Amazon can now anticipate before the consumer can, when the consumer will want or need a product or service. There are many touch points in the Amazon brand experience: consideration, delivery within 1 or 2 hours, trial of product, and possible return of product.
Talbot: As it always has, the speed of marketing (and of business itself) continues to accelerate. How does a thoughtful marketer manage this?
Sculley: Marketing strategy must adapt to an always connected relationship between the seller and the buying consumer.
Competition has forced retailers to adapt or die to an omni-channel supply chain where consumers have great flexibility to choose when, where, and how they will receive their purchases. The skills of a marketing strategist require the ability to understand all the many ways that a seller will be engaged with a consumer.
Talbot: What can prevent marketing strategy from sitting on a shelf and being ignored?
Sculley: Marketing strategy is increasingly being personalized for each individual prospect, as well as active customers. All kinds of consumer data is being collected, analyzed by machine learning algorithms, and integrated back in the marketing strategy.
Marketeers need to be competent at understanding, adapting, and executing improved strategies based on the sophisticated data systems that big brands and companies are continuously improving.
Talbot: Is marketing becoming more tactical and less strategic?
Sculley: Tactical versus strategic is too simplistic a way to thinking about marketing strategy. A really good marketeer must have the talent to zoom-out, and then zoom-in at different levels of the product or service value chain with a prospective consumer.
End-to-end technology platforms will take over most of the heavy lifting. Companies like Salesforce, Adobe, and my company Zeta Global are really good at assisting consumer marketeers to have connected and smart relationships with their consumers.
Talbot: The availability of data and the pace at which it flows in…how does this impact the creation of marketing strategy?
Sculley: Eighty percent of AI is based on the quality and quantity of one’s personal data, not just the uniqueness of algorithms. Typically, several billions of consumer determinant data points are being calculated every day by personalized marketing services.
Talbot: How is the relationship between brands and consumers changing, and how can these changes be best addressed strategically?
Sculley: The largest change is the power shift to customers having more control in their brand choice and purchasing decisions. The momentum will continue to empower customers in more and better ways. Product business models will increasingly be reinvented as service business models.
The best business models will measure everything by means of very detailed consumer metrics that must be interpreted and adapted at a systems level.
I built my consumer marketing reputation with big creative themes like ‘The Pepsi Challenge’ and ‘Macintosh 1984’ launch campaign. Creativity must be aligned with the big end-to-end platform systems I have been describing.
A brilliant creative experience campaign is still important, but creativity alone is not enough. Creativity must be individualized and integrated across the end-to-end value chain experience. Ultimately, speed-to-scale will win. That’s why Amazon and the reinvention of Walmart and others who are making systemic transformation a priority are in such a powerful position to lead the future.