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Dia&Co Chief Answers 4 Questions For Marketing Innovators

Nadia Boujarwah is the co-founder and CEO of Dia&Co, an in-home shopping experience for women who wear sizes 14 and up. A lifelong fashionista, Boujarwah founded the company on the belief that style can act as a catalyst for self-love. Prior, she worked as an investment banker at Perella Weinberg Partners, and most recently served as COO and CFO of New York-based jewelry brand Frieda and Nellie.

Also of note, Boujarwah was the first Kuwaiti woman to graduate from Harvard Business School; she also holds a BS,  in economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Boujarwah recently participated in our "4 Questions for Marketing Innovators" series.

1. What is one marketing topic that is most important to you as an innovator?
I'm obsessed with the importance of a strong brand promise. Before setting any marketing strategy, you must have a crystal-clear articulation of your commitment to the customer—and I highly recommend putting it in writing. At Dia&Co, ours is: "We promise to understand her better than anyone else will. We put her first, always."

By codifying your commitment, you not only clarify the most foundational elements of your strategy for yourself, you also clarify it for your team. Put your brand promise at the end of every internal email. Put it on a sticky note on your laptop. Put it on your office walls. At the end of the day, upholding the brand promise is each employee's most important job responsibility, and teams become much more aligned when that's made explicitly clear.

Moreover, in my experience, teams also become more invested when they know that they're part of a collective promise to the customer. It creates a powerful bond and a true sense of accountability. It becomes a part of the culture. "Earn the trust you are given" is one of our core values at Dia&Co—and it’s one that was suggested by our employees.

This core value has also become an intrinsic part of our hiring process. The one non-negotiable trait that all prospective employees must have is a commitment to our customer. We screen for that qualification explicitly; it's built into our interview rubrics. Protecting and nurturing that internal culture is an imperative.

2. Why is this so important?
Our goal is to be the beloved brand in the lives of our customers. In a world with more and more options, only a singular focus on her makes this possible.

You earn loyalty from a customer the same way you earn loyalty from a friend: by building trust. To build trust with your customer, you must understand her better than anyone else will, you must clearly communicate the value that you will bring to her, and you must consistently exceed her expectations.

3. How can this improve the customer experience?
The process of defining your brand promise requires you to go beyond the data and to connect with your customer on a human level. I believe it's critical for any B2C business to stay focused on the human need they serve. What sometimes gets lost in personalization is the person. It's important to remember your customers are humans, driven by deep needs and desires, as we all are. To create successful personas, you need more than observations of behaviors. Your personas should be supported in data, yes, but more importantly, they should be rooted in the psychographics of your customer and the emotional benefit you are providing.

It may sound obvious, but it's worth stating: To connect with your customers on a human level, you have to actually meet them. One way our team committed to this was by embarking on a six-city listening tour, where we traveled around the country to meet our customers and hear what they wanted from us, what was providing value, and where they thought we could improve. Listening is at the core of our business and the secret to providing unparalleled service. When a brand takes the time to understand you and treat you like a cherished friend, it creates a meaningful and positive connection.

This approach acknowledges that the most powerful customer experiences are rarely functional. The products we love most are products that have a real emotional benefit that we come to depend on.

4. How will this improve the effectiveness of marketing?
Focus begets success. Ultimately, the power of knowing your customer deeply and putting a fine point on the value you are committed to delivering is twofold: It allows you to make better decisions, and it allows you to move more quickly.

We all make dozens of judgment calls a day. Take some of the guesswork out of success by doing the most valuable work with your customer up front.

Bonus Question: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
In my free time, I love catching a spin class and cooking. My current dish of choice is a cauliflower rice risotto. It’s so delicious you won't miss the real stuff!



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

Ask for the Conversation

Imagine someone striking up a conversation with you just based on your street address. Can that start a conversation? Sure. Can it sustain a conversation? Not really. A simplistic start to personalization can only get you so far. Flat data gathered from purchases or web browsing, like geographic location and age, deliver limited context about your customers. But we know the rich data is only an ask away – just like a better conversation topic.

When the 2016 Econsultancy Conversion Rate Optimization Report came out, there was one thing we noticed in it – the uptick in personalization efforts by brands. In the two years since the survey first began asking about personalization, the number of companies using personalization technologies slightly decreased in 2015, but resumed growth in 2016. Although only a quarter of those surveyed currently use website personalization to improve conversion rates, more than half (55 percent) plan to implement it.

So while the race to personalize is on, there's still a speed bump in the road that Econsultancy identified: companies' challenges in implementing the technology. Though there are many approaches to reaching customers and anticipating their wants and needs, the truth is that any customer-facing strategy that attempts to convert without a conversation is falling short in the long-term.

What we know is that when you're aiming to deliver personalization, you need more than single data points and fragmented customer journeys to engage consumers. By initiating a conversation with customers, you can then invite them to share the ways in which they'd like to communicate with you. One opt-in can launch a conversation if you listen, remember and respond.

To get started, kick-start customer engagement with a preference center – simply ask your customers about product interests, communication channel preference and their preferred frequency of communication. This single entry point allows customers to indicate the ways in which they expect or would like communications from your company. By allowing customers to share those preferences, you offer an opportunity for your customers to guide the conversation.

The ability to collect initial preferences paves an inviting and compliant path for customer conversations. Best of all, this recreates the ways in which we naturally communicate: listening to a friend, remembering what they say, and responding based on your knowledge.




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

ICYMI: Preferences, Privacy and Personalization in the News

Expedia Wants You to Use VR to Choose the Right Hotel Room

Travel company Expedia is reportedly working on virtual reality options for their booking process. Users may be able to walk through rooms, view amenities and even check out balconies and a room's view. The company's CEO has said in the past that VR could be an important part of travel research and a means of inspiration. Click here to read more. 


8 high-tech innovations transforming how autistic children communicate

Smart toys, robots and AI are increasingly changing lives for children with autism. By finding creative ways to communicate and interpret responses, kids are bridging communication gaps with their families and peers. Customizable robots, Google Glass and even mood-predicting wearables enhance or clarify conversations and interactions. Even nonverbal children are using tech gadgets to "speak" to others. Click here to read more. 


How Delta's Focus on Customer Experience Turned a Bankrupt Airline Into a Powerhouse Brand

In an AdWeek company profile, Delta’s SVP and CMO Tim Mapes describes the ways in which the Atlanta-based airline moved to enhance its employee and customer experiences. By leveraging technology like heart rate monitors to trace volunteers' journeys through their travel experience, Delta was able to identify stressful moments – including parking, security and boarding – and find ways to improve the experience at each moment. Click here to read more.


Hacking Attack Woke Up Dallas With Emergency Sirens, Officials Say

On a recent weekend in Dallas, Texas, residents were woken up between the hours of 11:40 p.m. on Friday night until 1:20 a.m. Saturday morning. Emergency sirens – typically used for weather and other emergencies – blasted for 90-second durations about 15 times. City officials say a local hacker set off the alarms and that the breach in security represents the growing need for more secure infrastructure. Click here to read more. 


Ford built a baby bed that feels like it's driving around the neighborhood

A custom-made baby crib has been built by Ford and generating interest from parents. The reason? Ford's crib, dubbed Max Motor Dreams, simulates the feeling of riding in a car – a typical way to soothe babies. The crib combines street sounds captured by your smartphone, gentle car-like rocking motion thanks to small motors, and LED lighting to mimic streetlights. Unfortunately, the crib hasn't been mass-produced, but the public interest hasn't gone unnoticed. Click here to read more.





Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW and CompliancePoint. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. 

With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today. 

Follow me on Twitter: @EricTejeda | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Tejeda

How Should I Organize My Preference Center?

A preference center represents a centralized location for your customers to manage communications and interactions with your company. But more importantly, your preference center also represents an opportunity for customers to become empowered and begin to understand the ways in which they can personalize your conversation with them.

When your company is initially creating its preference center, there are some simple techniques in organizing it to get your customers to understand the ways in which your company can and should communicate with them.

By introducing clear methods and levels of opt-ins, your customers can identify the communications they'd like to receive while being reminded that they can change their preferences at any time – increasing, decreasing and ultimately customizing your communications with them.

Broadly, your preference center organization should utilize three categories:

  1. Messages they want to receive – this would generally include alerts, notifications and reminders
  2. Messages you want to send them – things like marketing and promotions communications
  3. Messages you must send them – required items like company or legal notices, EOBs for insurance companies


By sorting your preference center this way, customers get clarification on the types of messages they can receive, eliminating confusion or mass rejection of messages. You also reinforce the ways customers understand what they can (or can’t, in the case of the third category) change about the communications you send them. But by giving them these opt-ins on multiple channels, they're able to tweak and personalize the conversation.

Watch and save this short video as a reminder of the best way to organize a preference center:



This organization also allows your company to think about the communication matrix in simple ways that your customers do too – their wants, your wants, and everyone's requirements.

By following a clear organization technique like this, you're able to show customers that you can listen, remember and respond to them. And more importantly – follow through on it.




About the Author: 
Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He's a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. His book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior - Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior - hit bookstores in the summer of 2013. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.


Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

Stop (ONLY) Marketing To Millennials

"There's both ageism in our culture and ageism in our profession of marketing. But some of it's not even malicious ageism. Some of it is just, 'I want my brand to feel young and modern and youthful, and the only way to do that is to be targeting it to the young and modern and youthful.' But that's simplistic thinking." This according to Denise Fedewa, Executive Vice President/Strategy Director, Leo Burnett.

Many marketers have invested significant portions of their budget chasing the millennial consumer. But, here's a fact that might make some rethink that strategy. According to DataMentors, while Millennials do make up the largest generation today (86 Million), Baby Boomers still take second place (77 Million.)

If marketers are putting all their chips on Millennials, they could be in for a surprising loss when they realize just how much they are leaving on the table by excluding other demographic groups in their marketing mix and messaging.

But marketers are just not marketing to this lucrative "older" consumer: "[Baby Boomers] can sustain and be a strong driver of the consumer economy over the next five to ten years especially the upper-income households. They have the money to spend. It's a different mindset …now saying, I've got to spend it while I'm here," says Doug Hermanson, principal economist at Kantar Retail.
  • The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) calculates that less than 15% of firms have developed a business strategy focused on the elderly.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit found that only 31% of firms took increased longevity into account when making plans for sales and marketing.
  • A report by the McKinsey Global Institute points out that older consumers are one of the few engines of growth in an otherwise sluggish global economy.
  • According to DMN3, online research shows an overwhelming 82.3% of Boomers belong to at least once social networking site and over half of Boomers who use social networking sites will visit a company website or continue their search on a search engine as a result of seeing something on social media

According to Morgan Stanley, "As consumers age, their spending increases, with the U.S. consumer's peak earnings, spending, and investing years between ages 35 and 55. Boomer generation will still maintain enormous spending muscle. In the next two decades, spending by Americans over 50 is projected to increase by 58%, whereas spending by Americans 25-50 will grow by 24%…"

In learnings from 15,000+ hours of VoC research interviews, consumers have told us again and again that they want needs-based personalization that connects with them at a human and genuine level. To develop relationships with all consumers, marketers need to devise personalization that drives engagement by increasing conversion rates and return visits because the consumer feels that the brand understands them. But unfortunately for many age brackets, this is not the case.

"Most of the female baby boomers feel as if marketers don't really understand them, and they're not making a really strong, concerted effort to speak to them as an individual," says Dave Austin, managing director of marketing agency Influent50 "There's this misnomer that boomers are not… digital-savvy, which is just not true. They're one of the first generations to use technology in every portion of their life."

However, a savvy few companies have tapped into the digital-loving Baby Boomer market, such as Stitch, an online dating, activity and travel community for those over 50. According to founder, Marcie Rogo, "[Boomers are] brand loyal. This is what I love about them. They like the real talk. If they trust you as a brand, they will stay with you. They're not going to hop around like millennials."

L'Oareal has recently announced that it has added 69 year old actress, Susan Sarandon, to its roster of over 50 brand ambassadors for its beauty product line, which has made a choice to have a representative from each generation to portray their message that beauty 'transcends age'. In their "senior marketing" the company notes that their new brand ambassadors, "embody the new kind of radiant 60-something women."

TakeAways:
  1. Millennials represent significant buying power, but they are not the only ones. When marketers put most of their marketing eggs in one demographic basket they are missing opportunities and revenue from other segments that feel the brand does not want their business.
  2. Marketers must make the effort to understand the needs, actions, and buying patterns of every demographic group.
  3. Marketing needs to "speak" to consumers in a voice that is both authentic and genuine. If the message is stereotypical, consumers have no reason to identify with a brand they feel does not accurately understand their needs or lifestyle.

One of the key lines from Madonna's Billboard "Woman of the Year" acceptance speech was, "The most controversial thing I've done is stick around." Marketers have fallen in love with the pursuit of a digital demographic at the exclusion of other demographic age groups. Now, the key is for marketers to see past the obvious to gain a deeper understanding that all age groups are digital—and have big buying power.



About the Author:
Ernan Roman Direct Marketing's Customer Experience strategies achieve consistent double-digit increases in response and revenue for their clients, which include IBM, MassMutual, QVC, Microsoft, and Symantec Corp.

As a leader in providing Voice of Customer research-based guidance, ERDM has conducted over 10,000 hours of interviews with their clients' customers and prospects, to gain an in-depth understanding of their expectations for high-value relationships.

The results achieved by ERDM's VoC-based strategies earned Ernan Roman induction into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Visit his blog at: http://ernanroman.blogspot.com/

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