Ayaz Malik is Enterprise Marketing Excellence Manager, at Roche Diagnostics Corporation in Indianapolis, IN. But what that title really means is that he translates the complex world of digital so that the rest of us – particularly marketing people – understand how to grasp, use and succeed more efficiently with all the digital tools available to them.
Ayaz has spent the majority of his career building, transforming and enabling marketing and communications teams with a focus on healthcare/medical devices. His passion in the last decade has increasingly turned to marketing in the digital era and the evolving roles within a highly matrixed organization – especially those of the marketer and communicator, as they work to remain relevant and capable in the face of rapidly evolving technologies that enable a company’s content creation, curation, management, delivery and measurement today. Ayaz’s peers describe him as a polymath and seek him out for his ability to connect-the-dots across multiple and complex business challenges, and to lead collaboration efforts that result in relevant, compelling and actionable solutions.
Ayaz has also been Head of Roche Diagnostics Global Communication team in Switzerland; Head of Roche Tissue Diagnostics Marketing Communications in Arizona; Head of Zimmer Global Marketing Communications in Warsaw, Indiana; SVP/Principal-Creative Director at Marketing Impact in Indiana; and Creative Director at Caldwell Van Riper in Indiana.
We attended one of his talks on Digital Asset Management at a Veeva Summit. Obviously, that’s just the kind of place where there will be people who can parse his technical terms and grok his charts. So we sought him out for a deeper dive into his wisdom, to help make it clearer for our marketing and sales readers.
Ayaz put it simply: “When you create a brand, you want to tell a compelling and differentiated story, influence people with relevant content, get them to engage your brand/company, try your product or service and eventually form a preference for your brand. Marketers, at their fingertips today, have the ability to leverage technology platforms to more effectively and efficiently communicate with and engage their targeted audiences.
This will require marketers to understand, develop and execute end-to-end integrated marketing plans – and avoid the trap of focusing solely on the sales channel and product marketing materials/content. This means that increasingly, we need to pay attention to the role of the influencer as part of the mix – those from whom our audiences are seeking and getting information about our products and services, before they come to us.”
He asks, “when was the last time you went to a store and bought an item without looking it up and then being influenced either by a peer or by an online review? What if my brand’s information was not present when and where you were looking? My brand would not show up as part of your consideration – out of sight, out of mind in other words. This should keep marketers awake at night and should be a key focus of their planning. I would ask myself… is my content still relevant; is it still compelling; is it differentiated; can they find and access it easily; can I monitor and measure effectiveness; can I get actionable analytics insights; and can I easily optimize?”
Of course, automation plays a role in enabling this to happen, and this is the intersection where Ayaz is the professor you want to help you navigate that area.
He says, “The nexus of marketing, communications and technology along with market forces are driving the shift in the way we develop our products/services, the way we go to market, the way we engage, interact and transact with our audiences, and absolutely changing the future role of the marketer. It’s impacting every aspect of marketing and so it’s a matter of strategically connecting the dots across all these dimensions. When we have a fully integrated marketing plan and the most relevant, differentiated and compelling content, and we execute well, we can effectively deliver audience- and channel-specific content where, when and how they want it.”
THE STUDENTS AND THE LEADERSHIP
Ayaz works in an environment where there are five generations of people. We normally assume that the younger people are more tech-savvy, and that the Boomers are the ones most in need of Ayaz’s wisdom. But he points out that this isn’t necessarily true.
“Everyone has their competencies, and often the older execs are just as tech-savvy as the millennials. Part of my job is to understand and identify areas where marketing and communications can make impact today and in the future, and then collaborate with SMEs to operationalize the marketing solutions that will enhance the marketing and digital maturity of the organization. Another key area of focus is the integration and use of our tech platforms for marketing and communications, that enable us listen, learn, create, store, engage and deliver like never before.”
But the first task on his agenda is how to get buy-in from senior leadership? How does he make it happen? What marketing norms need to shift? What technology should they use? “Informing, aligning with and educating senior leaders continuously is the new normal for anyone driving marketing excellence – helping these leaders to understand what is needed, why it’s critical, what is the opportunity cost and what investments are required. We also need to help them in understanding the tech required to be effective. There is no single end-to-end platform for marketing and communications today that one can lift and shift. There’s a lot of work that goes into the custom integration to build this one-IT backbone for marketing and communications specifically for an organization. So, as technology advances so will marketing practices, and the demand for continuous improvement.”
In this article, we focused our discussion with Ayaz around two points:
- How a marketer can contextualize their marketing strategies and activities in this highly complex digital world
- The future role of the marketer
Ayaz says that increasingly, marketers will have to become really good storytellers for their brand, using insights about their various audiences, derived from analytics and delivered on demand, 24/7. This will require them to be effective in their end-to-end (E-2-E) planning and their ability to leverage their tech platforms. Most importantly, they will need the ability to contextualize their strategies and activities so their key internal stakeholders align on roles and responsibilities and execute well.
So, what does an organization depend on to streamline the connections between Strategy, Content, Interaction, Transaction, Analytics, Optimization and Compliance for creating a fully integrated marketing plan and containing the right narrative for each audience? Here’s a framework to consider – Figure 1.
For storytelling, Ayaz suggests that there’s an ABCDE framework. It involves Audience, Behavior, Content, Delivery and Evaluation.1
“If a tree falls in the forest, do we hear it? If a story is created, but our customer doesn’t see it or appreciate it, does it matter? The ‘forest’ of digital media is more crowded than ever. This demands care in how we create our story and ensure that it is heard and acted upon. We address it in a new model called CEIT (Content, Engagement, Interaction and Transaction). If you think of ABCDE as our model to construct a great story. The CEIT model helps us ‘CE-IT (see it)’ through (Figure 2).”
CONTEXTUALIZING OUR ACTIVITIES
This is how roles and activities fit, to see where adjacencies and dependencies are and to integrate the multiple inputs for the development, execution, and optimization of an end to end (E2E) integrated plan. It helps us think through the necessary touch points, success metrics, and pertinent information that teams will need to prepare their inputs. Here are five key learnings from our experience with the CE-IT model
- Clarify & Translate Goals – Clear business needs and goals are translated (not repeated) into marketing goals for each supporting team and external partners. This clarifies what success looks like, so expectations are aligned among all stakeholders. If the team should consider a variable (e.g. budget, timing), it must be included in the brief. No short cuts.
- Lead Inclusive Launch Meetings – A project/initiative launch meeting with all stakeholders and external partners is held, so all teams hear the same message and seek clarification for anything that is unclear: roles and responsibilities, expectations, critical adjacencies and dependencies. Each supporting team can now collaborate to develop strategy, tactics and measures. Now we all know the plan of action.
- Integrate and Align Individual Team Plans – Each team determines the metrics that matter, and now the analytics team is able to develop integrated analytics, reporting and optimization strategy aligned with tactics. This also assists with compliance for each project/initiative, as the focus on privacy, data and security regulations continues to rise.
- Be Agile and Adjust Plan Based on Input – We’re now ready for the project/initiative lead to review, assess and ensure integration of all inputs, question any areas of concern and make adjustments. All teams should be fully aligned and ready to execute the E2E integrated plan. This becomes a team-infused plan.
- Socialize, Teach and Listen to Leaders – The project/initiative lead must now ensure the plan is socialized with the appropriate stakeholders and ensure results of the plan are reported back, so that leaders understand the plan’s progress and adjustments required. This places us on the path to continuous improvement forever after.
WATCH OUT FOR ENTRENCHED BELIEFS
The hidden danger in the process is those darn antibodies that come out of the woodwork in organizations. Some of our peers may lack the desire to change. The watch-out for organizations here are the blind-spots due to anchoring. Research points to anchoring, which means we hold onto the past like a person holding a pole in a hurricane. These entrenched beliefs and mindsets keep individuals and their organizations from moving ahead and from recognizing critical shifts that will be necessary to remain relevant in the marketplace (Figure 3).
IT’S ALL ABOUT CONTENT, ACCESS AND DELIVERY
What we do every day matters. How we create content, how we engage with our audiences and how we make “audibles” on what to do next make or break success for brands. Ayaz calls these three areas Content Stewardship, Continuous Engagement and Decision Support.
Content Stewardship – Content Stewardship means that we obsess over the power of our story and we don’t confuse action with success. This helps connect the dots and develop the knowledge and skills to create, prepare, store, distribute, publish and optimize content that is user- and channel-specific. Great engagement is directly linked to a story’s quality, relevance and its perceived value by the target audience.
A Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution will be required to sustain this type of robust content ecosystem. Think of it as a combination of your library and your brain for your stories. Content Stewards focus on substance, not the latest tech solution/platform. Your DAM will deliver current, accurate and consistently branded content. Users can easily find the content they need. The value to the company is compliance with regulations and policies; strong governance and knowledge transfer; and an enhanced user experience. DAM’s are darn good.
Our success with implementation with this methodology has been highly successful. It avoids misunderstandings and keeps everyone focused on the plan we baked together.
Benefits for marketers:
- Allows them to focus on substance vs. the solution/platform
- Current, accurate and consistently branded content
- Users can find their content easily
- Lifecycle management of content is automated
- Continuous engagement
- Decision support
Benefits for company:
- Compliance with regulations and policies
- Governance and knowledge transfer
- High Ux → engagement → valued source of info → strong reputation
Continuous Engagement –The demand for more 24/7-relevant and compelling content continues to rise. Content on-demand and proper search is expected as a matter of convenience – it’s expected when, where and how users want it (Figure 5). The role of the influencer is also rising, and this means customers are increasingly looking to and trusting peers, advocacy groups and their networks for information that they customarily received from companies, before they directly engage a company. Marketers, in a highly matrixed organization, are now confronted with how to leverage this Continuous Engagement.
For this reason, we have identified proper content management via a DAM as a fundamental enabler – and knowledge transfer a key mindset.
Continuous Engagement must be optimized with an organization’s investment in five key areas:
- Content platforms that permit creation, preparation, storage, curation and governance
- Engagement platforms that permit distribution and publishing
- Interaction platforms that enable marketing automation
- Transaction platforms that enable CRM (customer relationship management)
- Analytics solutions that deliver actionable insights
Value for marketers:
- Focus on end-to-end integrated marketing and communications planning
- Users can engage and access highly personalized content 24/7
- Empower digital marketers to drive engagement in near real time
- Offer e-services to customers 24/7
- Syndicate content to affiliate teams
Value for company:
- Create engagement with lower cost to reach audiences
- Engage, influence and nurture leads to lower the cost to acquire customers
- Proactive and reactive awareness building of the company brand and reputation
- Positions company as an innovation leader
Decision Support – These are the solutions and insights the analytics team provides for marketers to make informed decisions impacting our plans. We want to see what matters to our customers and how we can improve. This enhances our ability to mine data and insights to make informed decisions around plans and content and to understand where content can be inserted into conversations and micro-moments, so we can meet targeted audiences where they want to engage with us.
Value for marketers:
- Mining data and insights that help marketing and many other parts of the business
- Making data driven decisions around content type and style
- Working in advance of the marketing
- Meeting users where they are Value for company:
- Greater understanding of our audiences
- Decision making through insights from analytics
- Continuous improvement
- Efficiency gains
- Future correlation of marketing spend to revenue
SO, WHAT NEXT?
To create the most efficient and effective DAM for your organization, and be able to streamline your ability to assess demographics and platforms, access and continually upgrade the best technology, and respond immediately to customers and market trends, here are the steps I recommend:
- Assess the marketing maturity of your organization – understand the levers you need to pull on an individual and organizational basis to enhance maturity, then drive the right incentives, accountability and measures to ensure adoption and maturity
- Leverage contemporary learning and development approaches – enable real-time and continuous learning experiences for your marketers and communicators
- Focus on knowledge transfer – ensure best practices, processes and tools are codified and institutionalized so they endure and have change, governance & lifecycle management built in to the organization’s systems
- Assess and align your marketing and communications organizations – to fit the new paradigm, align roles and responsibilities and pay attention to roles that are needed and do not exist in the company today (for example data librarians, story-tellers, interaction drivers, engagement drivers, etc.)
- Ensure your marketing technology stack is on track – to enable your new marketing & communications ecosystem and ensure it is well integrated, focus on identifying subject matter experts to properly nurture and evolve the technology platforms.
- Invest in a team that is forward looking – change occurs via humans. Who will move the ball forward, test new online solutions and help adoption occur?
- Ensure there is a focus on analytics and actionable insights – a must.
- Pay attention to organizational change management – to ensure effective implementation and adoption of solutions/changes.
Overall, if you are able to build excellent stories via the ABCDE model, you are well on your way to success. But, like anything in life, our ability to plan, integrate, learn and scale what we do makes all the difference. This is why the discipline to “CE-IT through” is an important companion model. It may not be as sexy, but it is equally important for your brand and organization’s future success.
1Robert W. Pearson, Co-author – Crafting Persuasion, ABCDE model