Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 McCombs MBA Marketing Conference Brings Whole-Brained Insights to Students

By Natalie Quinn, MBA Class of 2016

View the event through the eyes of social media.

On October 29-30, the Texas MBA program hosted its annual marketing conference at the McCombs School of Business. Sponsored by the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solutions (CCIMS) in conjunction with the Graduate Marketing Network and the CCIMS Marketing Fellows student organizations, the event focused on uniting quantitative and qualitative skills to engage in “whole-brained marketing.”

Over the conference’s two days, attendees heard from marketing experts in the digital, CPG, financial services, technology, and academic fields. First-year students also had the opportunity to present their work on a case challenge that asked them to develop a plan for engaging millennial Walmart grocery consumers via the Pinterest platform.

The Thursday evening sessions of the conference kicked off with three TED-style talks about marketing. Marissa Jarratt, Senior Director of PepsiCo’s Global Marketing Program Office, discussed whole-brained marketing approaches in emerging markets and introduced the “Four As Framework,” which focuses on applicability, availability, affordability, and affinity. She then provided a case study from PepsiCo’s own work in Asia with the Sting energy drink.

Award-winning author and speaker Erik Qualman followed Ms. Jarratt with remarks describing the 5 habits of digital leaders. Summarizing them with the acronym STAMP, Mr. Qualman explained that those who excel in the digital space practice simplicity, share truth, act with agility, follow a map, and care about people. Implementing the STAMP approach to digital allows brands and influencers to leverage word of mouth by putting this method of sharing on the steroids of social platforms.                 
The final TED-style speaker was Todd Darroca, a marketing thought leader from Austin-based IT company Spiceworks. Acknowledging that “content is king,” Mr. Darroca outlined the importance of content development and content mapping in order to connect with the right consumers at the most opportune times. He concluded by emphasizing that conversion-driving content speaks to a company’s business objective while also giving a reader a reason to care.

After the TED talks concluded, Seth Gaffney of Preacher, an Austin ad agency, and Matt Stuart of Main Street Hub, an Austin analytics firm, faced off in a moderated debate pitting creativity against data. After weighing in on questions like “Is big data creating a creative deficit?” and “What’s the role for creativity and data in building a brand?”, Mr. Gaffney and Mr. Stuart ultimately agreed that while human creativity is more closely tied to action, data can validate and inform the creative steps a brand or organization can take.

Following a networking reception and sit-down dinner, conference attendees then had the privilege of hearing from Kip Knight, President of H&R Block’s U.S. Retail Operations. Mr. Knight shared experiences from his varied marketing career, which has included roles managing businesses in the CPG, fast food, e-commerce, and consulting spaces. He also outlined 3 principles for modern marketers and 7 tips for McCombs marketing students. 

Mr. Knight encouraged students to identify their wildly important goals (WIGs), always ask “What if?”, and learn to “zag” when others zig. After discussing his own experiences working with both Crown Maple and H&R Block to tackle specific brand challenges, Mr. Knight closed his remarks with the following 7 recommendations:
• Always be learning
• Develop relationships
• Don’t play not to lose; play to win
• Bring people with you
• See the world through your customers’ eyes
• Be true to yourself
• Enjoy the ride

The next morning, first-year students arrived bright and early to compete in the preliminary rounds of the conference’s marketing case challenge. Not even heavy rain and a subsequent tornado warning could dampen the students’ enthusiasm for sharing with judges their teams’ recommendations on enhancing Walmart's connection with potential millennial consumers via Pinterest activations. As the final round of the case challenge began, other conference attendees participated in two workshops.

Winning Challenge Team
The first workshop, presented by Justin Freels and Frannie Makabenta of Tableau, focused on data visualization. Mr. Freels and Ms. Makabenta discussed the opportunities that visualization tools like Tableau create for putting the power of data comprehension into anyone’s hands. Professor Art Markman of the UT-Austin Psychology Department then discussed how marketing leaders can help people be more creative in the workplace by leveraging group memory in the ideation process.

All conference participants from both the case challenge and workshops then convened for a final keynote lunch featuring Peter Horst, CMO of The Hershey Company. Mr. Horst reminded attendees that whole-brained marketing combines both the “think” and “feel” components of business strategy. After sharing examples from Ameritrade, Capital One, and Hershey’s Kisses and Jolly Rancher brands, Horst concluded his remarks by suggesting that whole-brained marketers always abide by the following principles:
• Lead with hypotheses
• Integrate and iterate
• Be skeptical
• Be bold
• Position powerfully
• Have fun

Peter Horst, CMO of The Hershey Company

Reflecting on their experiences at the conference, students agreed that the speakers’ topics and case challenge allowed them to experience the necessity of a whole-brained approach firsthand. Second-year student Judy Kuo noted that Professor Markman’s creative ideation workshop afforded her a new perspective on problem-solving by demonstrating “that everyone has the potential to generate ideas if allowed to think about and tackle a problem with their own devices.” First-year student Matt Giorgis added this observation about his experience while working on the case: “What resonated most with me was the feedback my team was able to receive from multiple judges coming from a wide range of industries.” This breadth of feedback and knowledge gained combined to facilitate yet another year of challenge and conference success for this annual CCIMS event.

Marketing Conference & Challenge Committee

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Old Millennial Wisdom

Despite being reminded that we are “old millennials” by a recent guest speaker, the Marketing Fellows continue to be solicited for advice about how to engage younger generations. Millennials, generally referred to as those born between 1982-2001, will soon outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce. With more spending power comes greater attention from brands. However, millennials tend to resist overt advertising and are rarely brand loyal, which creates inherent tension among companies and customers.

In this week’s Customer Strategy class, our discussion centered around this hot topic: How can established brands reach and retain younger customers?

Michael Westgate, W2O Group
Michael Westgate, Head of Marketing at W2O Group and McCombs MBA alum, began the session with a challenge facing one of W2O Group’s current clients, NBC.  

Westgate shared with us the W2O Group’s 1-9-90 principle to digital audience segmentation. One percent of customers create content (Opinion Leaders), nine percent share, comment and repackage content (Influencers), and 90 percent listen and lurk (The Market). According to Westgate, companies are skilled at identifying the Opinion Leaders but not the Influencers, which W2O Group helps them to understand and identify.

 Another interesting opinion held by W2O Group is that paid media should come last in the planning cycle after earned, shared and owned media. This nontraditional approach encourages W2O Group’s clients to optimize and exploit free channels and then select a highly targeted, relevant media buy.

Alice Liu, American Airlines
American Airlines’s Alice Liu, Managing Director of Onboard Products, and Brian Richardson, Director of Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity, led the second session of the day. The McCombs alumni were interested in hearing the Marketing Fellows’ ideas about branding and promoting American Airlines’ wireless entertainment offerings.

 Sessions like this prove to be invaluable learning experiences both for the Marketing Fellows and the company executives who volunteer their time to engage with us. The real-world experiences and feedback we receive will no doubt help us old millennials as we embark on our summer internships in the coming months.

Allie Wallace is member of the McCombs Marketing Fellows, Class of 2016. She's passionate about marketing because she loves that it allows a mix of creativity and discipline.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dr Pepper Snapple Group

On Friday, February 27th, Jim Trebilcock (CMO) and Benjamin Kraft (Associate Brand Manager) from Dr Pepper visited the McCombs Marketing Fellows Customer Strategy class for a session focused on college football strategy. Dr Pepper Snapple Group is a leading beverage company with 58 brands. Its flagship brand, Dr Pepper, is a unique, one of a kind beverage that is one of the most differentiated brands out there. With humble beginnings in the office of a pharmacist in Waco, Texas, Dr Pepper’s heartland is the five states that surround our great state. In 2014, Dr Pepper became one of the main sponsors of college football (the #2 sport in the USA after professional football), working closely with ESPN. In the first year of their six year agreement, they were able to reach millions of customers nationwide through powerful campaigns involving lovable Larry Culpepper, who is shown selling Dr Pepper at stadiums. The partnership with college football aligns well with Dr Pepper’s target market of 18-24 year olds who are truly one of a kind but also want a sense of belonging socially. College football is all about spending time with your friends and enjoying the game, and it can be made even better with an ice cold Dr Pepper!

First, Jim presented on Dr Pepper’s history, brands and the positioning of Dr Pepper. In the second half of the class, Ben provided insight into how to succeed as a marketing intern and answered questions related to succeeding in our summer internships. He then explained Dr Pepper’s Tuition Giveaway program.
There were several key takeaways from the session. First of all, having a consumer-driven strategy is paramount. Whenever decisions are made, you have to keep the consumer in mind, and DPSG has been very successful by continually doing this. Additionally, we stressed the importance of differentiation and positioning. Dr Pepper has been able to achieve excellent positioning and occupies a clear place in the hearts and minds of its audience. Whenever we think about building brands, we need to spend a lot of time developing strong positioning. Overall, the session was extremely insightful and we all enjoyed learning more about Dr Pepper’s sponsorship of college football and the company’s history of innovation. We can’t wait to see what they implement this fall when football season comes back around!

Michelle Sutton is member of the McCombs Marketing Fellows, Class of 2016. She's passionate about marketing because she loves getting inside the head of the consumer and trying to understand why and how they make decisions. She also loves how marketing combines creativity and analysis. It's really a great blend of qualitative and quantitative functions.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What do Johnnie Walker, Folgers coffee and Dos Equis know about marketing that you don't?

Author: Rob Malcom, Executive in Residence in the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solution
Each of these brands have achieved dramatic and  transformational growth within static or declining categories many years apart, by mastering perhaps the most powerful and under appreciated lever in marketing.  No it is not social media, harnessing "big data", nor digital, nor product innovation - although these tactics and tools were part of the programs. 

Each of these brands - Folger's coffee in the 1980's, Johnnie Walker starting in the late 90's and Dos Equis in the 2000's uncovered what I believe is the most powerful secret in unlocking growth for brands - "THE ONE TRANSFORMATIONAL INSIGHT ".  This is the "singular most powerful discovery about their target consumer's motivation that could be leveraged to unlock growth".  

 For Folgers it was identifying the major generic category motivation - why people drink coffee in the first place - "to get their day off to a brighter start" which led them to abandon 20 years  of "better taste" positioning for the most successful, longest running advertising campaign  - " the Best part of wakin' up is Folger's in your cup' - now in its 31st year on air.

 For Johnnie Walker it was the discovery that the target group of 25-30 upwardly mobile men all over the world were motivated by the same core driving force - the desire to make progress in their lives.  This led to the breakthrough global campaign "Keep Walking", and inspired men all over the world beginning in 1999,  It turned years of decline into rapid growth for the next decade and was awarded "global campaign of the decade" in 2010.

Dos Equis cracked the code and separated itself from the tangled mass of imported beer, by uncovering that it's target - guys 23-28 - were maturing and no longer wanted to be seen as "crazy frat boys".  At this point in their life they wanted to be seen as "more interesting or sophisticated."  Enter the " Most Interesting Man in the World" - the most successful idea in beer in the last decade.

What so many marketers seem to forget in today's world of digitally enabled cool tactics, is the root of understanding all consumer behavior lies first in finding and harnessing the singular most powerful motivation that drives their behavior - their choice.  Until this foundation work is complete - the rest really doesn't matter.

Rob Malcom, Executive in Residence in the Center for Customer Insight and Marketing Solution

A graduate of the University of Southern California with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in marketing, Malcolm has spent 24 years at Procter & Gamble before becoming president of marketing, sales and innovation for Diageo, the world’s largest premium alcoholic beverages company. He retired from full-time corporate work in 2008, but continues his influence by serving on the boards of the American Marketing Association, Hershey Foods, and others. He also taught marketing at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business from 2009 to 2013. Rob has been an Executive in Residence at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Since 2013.