How CPG Brands are Evolving in 2022


This AIThority guest post is co-authored by Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing, and Cyndi McMaster, Director of Client Development, Hawthorne Advertising.

The consumer-packaged goods (CPG) industry is on an exciting and transitional path right now, especially when it comes to the marketing approach. Virtually everything about the category has changed, including the items classified as CPG, the way brands develop and bring products to market, and how consumers learn about and acquire CPG products.

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital shopping channels, and a combination of greater availability of venture capital and affordable digital advertising options enabled emerging brands to use direct-to-consumer sales to remove barriers that had stood for decades — obstacles that once protected legacy brands’ share of the market and prevented new entrants from gaining traction.

It’s critical for marketers to understand how CPG is evolving so they can compete effectively as the landscape shifts.

Legacy brands had the advantage, but over the last decade, emerging direct-to-consumer brands like Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and countless others flipped the go-to-market script, appealing to new generations of customers and driving growth through social commerce.

Karla Crawford Kerr, VP of Marketing

Karla Crawford Kerr
VP of Marketing

Cyndi McMaster, Director of Client Development

Cyndi McMaster
Director of Client Development

New Customers, Values and Buying Habits

How consumers buy CPG products has changed. For many it’s now become automatic to purchase everyday staples like laundry detergent, pet food, coffee, etc., through Amazon and other direct-to-consumer platforms which also make automatic reordering at the right frequency simple and easy. And more people are now ordering groceries and other supplies online for pickup or delivery. And when consumers do physically visit stores, they compare prices in real-time on their phones, which makes multichannel selling for CPG’s an absolute must.

The customer base has changed, too, as is the way consumers select and buy products.

Millennial and Gen Z customers are looking for products that meet their needs at a good price, but they also look for brands that share their values, like sustainability and corporate commitment to their employees and communities, because they want to feel good about their purchases.

At the same time, as higher prices put pressure on budgets and new choices proliferate, brand loyalty is weakening, especially for legacy brands.

Many shoppers are opting for store brands or are willing to give less well-known products a try if marketed in a way that appeals to, even mirrors, their values and who they are (vs what they should aspire to be). Newer brands that succinctly convey product benefits while communicating a strong mission can pick up today’s more socially conscious consumers, including companies like Girlfriend Collective, which makes quality clothing for all shapes and sizes from recycled materials.

Acquisitions, Incubators and Retooled Distribution Strategies

Another sea change in the CPG space is the way brands develop and distribute products.

Buying habits changed, so brands have had to shift distribution to meet consumers where their needs and preferences are in the moment of purchase, balancing convenience with the experience. Established CPG brands meet these challenges in different ways, with some opting to offer legacy products on multiple channels and others acquiring emerging brands to reach new consumers.

In some cases, legacy brands have shifted from funding in-house new product development to purchasing emerging brands that appeal to desired demographic groups to remain relevant in a changing marketplace. For example, the maker of Schick razors acquired direct-to-consumer razor brand Billie for $310 million late last year, and instead of folding the emerging brand into its legacy portfolio, the parent company is allowing Billie’s founders to continue running the successful business.

E-commerce Startup News: Raises $6M to Transform E-Commerce Businesses using ML Infrastructure

Emerging brands recognize that product development and distribution have shifted too, and instead of focusing on scaling up for an IPO, some are looking to be acquired earlier as a means of expanding production and distribution capabilities. But the landscape is now flooded with new products and brands, there is heavy competition.

According to a recent McKinsey report, “Today, low barriers to entry have encouraged an explosion of DNB’s (digitally-native brands). However, DNBs (digitally native brands) that break through with outsize investor returns are rare. Over the past two decades, fewer than 0.5 percent of DNBs have reached $100 million in revenues. Investors face the challenge of sifting through concepts to determine which are worthy of the capital required to scale a business or buy into an existing company at high multiples.”.

In other cases, brands that were previously acquired by large CPG companies are finding they do better when the big enterprise divests and new owners invest more in product quality, innovation and marketing, as in the case with Bolthouse Farms, KRAVE PURE FOOD, and other brands.

Products and Messages that Break Through the Noise

One aspect of the CPG sector hasn’t changed: product quality still ultimately drives success or failure. The product must genuinely solve a problem and have attractive benefits and features. If it doesn’t, consumers will catch on eventually. But the way marketers communicate value has changed. Ads that are less polished and perceived as more authentic can appeal to the demographics CPG brands are most interested in targeting.

Emerging CPG brands demonstrated that influencers and social media can drive fast growth, even legacy CPG brands took note and invested in those channels too, demonstrating that campaigns on platforms like TikTok and Instagram can drive sales. And Amazon offers newer brands a quick and easier path to e-commerce. But these efforts should not be mistaken as a stand-alone marketing strategy.

Per Retail Dive, “A diversified marketing mix and the cost of customer acquisition are among the factors investors look for before contributing funding.” What’s needed for CPG’s to successfully launch and grow a brand is an omnichannel approach that expands past the initial customer base and loyalists- one that cuts through the noise of competitors and takes continuous analysis to identify consumer segments the brand hasn’t connected with yet or should be. Grove Collaborative has does a great job with content and messaging that successfully delivers a product’s uniqueness and value to customers in real, relatable terms while testing and expanding new media channels and platforms.

It’s an exciting time with limitless opportunities for CPG brands that embrace change.

Marketers are changing the world in a real sense, and brands that connect with marketers who have the right expertise can do more than just keep up as CPG evolves — they can drive that evolution forward.

Buckle Up, Media Planners: The 2022 Midterms Will Be Tough On Advertisers

George Leon, Chief Strategy OfficerOn TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne Advertising.

The midterm election season will be here before we know it. The 2018 election season disrupted formerly stable patterns. This year, the lack of stability might be even more pronounced.

A rare trifecta of factors influence the marketplace today: heightened political tension, a war in Europe and high inflation. We can add the pandemic to the mix, too. It has changed media consumption habits significantly, and the new habits are persisting.

Let’s take a look at the past impact of midterm elections on ad buying and planning and the current patterns that are emerging. Understanding these patterns can help media planners and buyers be as prepared as possible for the remainder of the year.

Advertising during a tumultuous 2018 and 2020

Midterm elections typically generate less enthusiasm and have significantly lower turnout than presidential year races. Through 2018, the midterm pattern was a bell curve with a peak in September-November. But the 2018 midterms were anything but typical.

According to the Pew Research Center, more people voted than in any midterm election year since 1978. The intense interest drove campaign ad demand, which in turn drove advertising rates 1,000% to 2,000% higher in the 2018 cycle.

Voter turnout rose even higher in 2020, with nearly two-thirds of eligible voters participating in a record-setting presidential election. Afterward, through the start of the new year, many viewers tuned out of the post-election coverage. CNN saw declines of 40% to 50% in some markets, while networks like Fox News and MSNBC saw less precipitous decreases.

For media planners and buyers, the bottom line was that the negative political discourse was reflected in a diminished consumer response to ads placed during that period. Buyers were paying more for placement and getting less bang for their buck.

2022 has been painful for advertisers — so far

The Virginia gubernatorial election and early Texas primaries provided a preview of what to expect in the months ahead. In Virginia, there was a sharp increase in the frequency of communication. And the negative tenor of the political ads affected consumers’ willingness to stick with programming during the commercial break to view nonpolitical ad content.

The bell curve pattern expanded, with political content airing earlier in the year. Buyers who expected the usual pattern encountered pricing and availability barriers earlier. They also got diminished returns because political ad content turned viewers off.

One of the biggest surprises from the fourth quarter of 2021 was the lack of a response rate rebound after elections concluded. There’s usually a lift when the political season wraps up, but there wasn’t one in the second half of Q4. After an initial rise, response rates hit a brick wall, likely due to low consumer confidence and spiraling inflationary pressures.

The growth of CTV and the death of cookies will shape this election season

What will the remainder of 2022 hold for media planners and buyers? Rates will likely double in the next few months, possibly followed by a dip. Then there may be an increase that lasts through the election and the rest of the year. Rate increases will likely match or even exceed the sharp increases from the 2018 midterms.

It’s important to factor in the shifts from linear to OTT/CTV inventory in the years leading up to the pandemic and high rates of adoption as it subsides. Frequency will be a major issue, and inventory will be affected profoundly. But OTT/CTV is highly targeted, so ad servers will focus on fit, meaning consumers won’t be inundated with bombastic content.

Marketers may also look to paid social as the shift away from linear TV continues, but the disappearance of third-party cookies is making it more difficult to drive awareness and conversion on channels like Facebook and Instagram.

As a result, advertisers may decide to hold off on campaigns until the midterm period is over – if they can. Buyers who need to drive action around time-specific events like Medicare enrollment will need to maintain a presence during the midterms, but they’ll have to plan on paying more to place inventory that receives lower response rates.

Buckle up as you prepare for the rest of the year. Be aware that it will take more spending to maintain response rates, let alone increase them in the fourth quarter. The upcoming midterms will be a bumpy ride.

6 Exciting Publishing Trends Ad Professionals Want To See In 2020

It’s a new year and decade, and experts across all industries are waiting to see if their predictions for 2020 trends will come to fruition. The digital publishing landscape is no exception — professionals in advertising and media have a lot of ideas about what’s coming this year. What’s more, these predicted trends have the potential to leave a significant impact on marketers and content creators.

Six Publishing Trends for 2020

To give you a better idea of what may lie ahead in the content publishing world, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective about the trends they hope to see this year. From increased live video to more interactive content, keep an eye on your digital feeds for these six things.

1. Live video surpassing recorded video

2019 was the year companies really dove deep into video. The problem? A tidal wave of corporatized videos that all sounded the same — clean in appearance, but stale in content. In 2020, recorded video will decline as consumers become suspicious of overly polished videos. Instead, companies will turn to live video as a medium to publish content and engage consumers in a more authentic way. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

2. Quality over quantity

I keep wondering when we’re going to find the end of the internet or when the servers are going to say, “drive full.” I hope 2020 will be the year of less content and more substance. Write excellent stories once a month or quarter instead of “producing content” weekly. Don’t produce to occupy an audience; select one amazing idea and move them to action. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

3. More interactive content

Interactive content lets you engage with customers in a more meaningful way. Customers participate in creating content instead of just consuming it. More interactions will help us understand customers better and connect with them, which will help businesses provide better services and more helpful products. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Removing ‘likes’

The testing of removing “likes” from social media would be a game-changer in the industry. Not only would it remove some of the negative impacts affecting society, but it would also even out the influencer market so only true influencers would work and those with fictional followers would go by the wayside. – Jessica Hawthorne-CastroHawthorne Advertising

5. Consistent monetization models for traffic

This year is going to expand the trend of publishers looking for ways to monetize their traffic. Publishers have toyed with models such as affiliate revenue and product development, with each having its pluses and minuses. 2020 will be the year where publishers finally figure out some consistent methods of monetizing their traffic. – Michael Lisovetsky, JUICE

6. Scale of attention

Unprecedented consumer athleticism with devices and distribution has transformed an advertiser’s customer base into a full population of relentless video content editors and publishers. Anyone can sort through a sea of sameness in seconds to get to where their video attention is placed on “hold.” The great news is that the video content being consumed and shared is like a food group to consumers. Look for the individual stories, characters and events that are being “eaten” in real scale (in millions) by real consumers and make the most of technology tools to reach the appropriate audiences for your brand. Scale of attention will differentiate great content in 2020, in real-time, capturing everybody’s appetite. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

7 Strategies For Gaining Better Customer Data

Your quality of engagement with customers hinges on how useful your customer data is. With deep insight into customer behaviors and thinking processes, you can make an impact on your core consumer base. However, getting this customer data isn’t as easy as it initially seems. The accuracy of data depends on how the business intends to collect it. The methodology shouldn’t be invasive and should encourage the consumer to trust the company with their data. That trust is built on a rapport that the brand needs to establish with its customers over time.

7 Steps for consumer data

With better customer data, the insights that you generate to connect with your consumers would be more substantial. You’ll find that your marketing efforts have more direction and engagement with the audience. However, the success of these efforts still depends heavily on the quality of data used to obtain those insights. The principle of “Garbage In, Garbage Out” is as true for data analysis as it is for any other technical field.

The entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective are well-versed in how good customer data can impact their business’s efforts in marketing, so we asked them their secrets when it comes to wrangling higher quality data from their consumers.

1. Start with the source.

More accurate customer data needs to start with the source. Assign the individual or the demographic cluster a unique customer ID. You can then input various strategies across different platforms, changing the creative, media and messaging, but targeting the same customer or demographic to see which elements of the campaign strategy are more effective and deliver the highest ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

2. Go after the ‘why,’ not just the ‘what.’

Tons of data is available on what customers do, both at your brand and away. That data does not tell us why they do it. Accurate data comes from identifying insights into the core of a customer and unlocking the drivers of behavior. That insight makes it easy to connect with customers and make action inevitable. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Seek noninvasive, regular feedback.

The key to gaining new customers is understanding your existing ones. Tools like Retently allow regular customer data to be gathered without overburdening clients. Doing this will allow you to pick up on trends — similar pain points that caused clients to choose your business or best aspects of working with your business, all of which can be used for more targeted campaigns to attract new leads. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Set up loyalty programs.

They are not new, but they have the strong benefit of being “opt-in” in a privacy-sensitive world. They also offer an explicit exchange of value, i.e. your company provides loyalty currency in exchange for certain actions or information from your customers. Sometimes, tried and true is just that. If you are seeking passive data collection, talk to companies that aggregate mobile data. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. Connect data with other digital and offline points.

Brands rely on first-party data to understand customers, but it only tells half the story. It’s important for brands to connect data with other digital and offline data points. If brands can take the data available to them and connect it using innovative technology, such as AI and ML, they can achieve the elusive single customer view. That leads to more relevant messages and effective campaigns. – Kevin Dean, Experian

6. Say goodbye to siloed point solutions.

Today, the challenge is that each function of the revenue team has its own suite of applications. With disparate data, integration gaps and lack of tight coordination, you can kiss your dreams of accurate insights goodbye. To uncover, orchestrate and utilize valuable buyer data, the entire revenue team needs to utilize one cohesive account-based platform with AI and big data built into the core. – Latane Conant, 6sense

7. Be careful how you define your competitive arena.

Marketers tend to envision zero-sum games within product categories, and design research to report within that arena; meanwhile, customers may be shifting behavior to buy outside your defined arena. Design research that lets you discover if your true competition is entirely off your radar. Who gets a bigger slice of the pie doesn’t mean much if your customers have switched to cake. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

What’s The Value Of A Sports Sponsorship Or Integration? Too Often, Brands Have No Idea.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by George Leon, chief strategy officer at Hawthorne. George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer

The fall is a huge time for sports. There’s the World Series, weekend football games, the beginning of the grueling NBA and NHL seasons and NASCAR winding to a close. Sports fans dedicate significant amounts of time to watching sports – on many different devices and channels – and brands are taking advantage of the many opportunities that affords.

Across the media landscape, inventory pricing is increasing but advertising budgets are not. As interest in sports sponsorships and integrations rise, agencies must find the right ways to evaluate these opportunities. Brands must apply the same path of attribution here as they do with their other advertising efforts.

The World Series is a high-profile event with major teams. Last year, it was the Dodgers and the Red Sox, two top five market teams. The series ended in five games, and advertisers were disappointed it didn’t go through the full seven because the campaigns did so well. This year, networks and advertisers continue to hope for a competitive World Series between the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals that continues through all seven games.

The Super Bowl, in contrast, is a singular cultural event that is difficult to measure from a KPI standpoint, but it is high in consideration in terms of interest, earned media and social mentions.

Over the past few years, the sports media universe has expanded dramatically. There are the mainstream networks, such as NBC, and cable networks, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, as well as an increase in conference-specific networks, including the Southeastern Conference Network, Big 10 Network and ACC Network. These networks open up sponsorship and integration opportunities that enable brands to deliver direct messages to particular regions and consumer segments. The evolution of these networks has added incremental opportunities for advertising and revenue, and brands of all sizes are taking note.

Whatever the network, attribution and accountability are key. For example, a big NASCAR sponsor will likely see a major increase in site traffic whenever there is a mention of its brand on TV during NASCAR races. This type of lucrative advertising avenue requires that it is measurable. It’s important to align sports sponsorships and integrations with results, such as branded impressions and ecommerce sales lifts.

There are several companies that look at the impression-level performance of sponsorships and integrations, but brands need to go beyond that and evaluate the value of particular campaigns. Often when sponsorship packages are offered by Fox Sports, NBC or ESPN, a big focus is on the creative element and the impressions for the events. However, there may not be any mechanism to measure the value of each element of a sponsorship or integration and their impact on brand metrics.

With attribution methodology, a very straight and clear correlation between when a brand’s logo appears and the impact on visits and acquisitions can be seen if rigorously measured.

Say a company buys branded signage at a televised event. The proposal is then evaluated based on the channel, the number of times the signage could be seen on screen and the mentions within that. It’s also considered if there is a different value depending on whether the logo is on the bottom of the screen, part of the background or part of the signage of the particular medium. If you look at any arena or hockey game, there are at least eight to 10 different brand logos. How frequently and for how long do those images appear onscreen? What is their prominence?

During the campaign, not only is the date and time in which the logos appear onscreen evaluated, but also the data and airtime of the advertising response. Brands should be able to understand how consumers react to these types of sponsorships and integration. How do they behave after seeing it? What’s the immediate or latent response?

We know they are not going to have the same audience delivery or measurements as a TV ad campaign, but often sponsorship and integration campaigns are seen only as a branded awareness configuration. Brands should also start considering them an acquisition and consumer response channel. It’s not just about the audience – it’s also about consumer engagement.

Now that sports season is in full swing, there’s no better time for brands to explore sports sponsorship and integration opportunities and how they can be evaluated for impact.

DRTV Lessons from Successful Brand Launches

As seen on DRTV

By George Leon, Chief Strategy Officer – Hawthorne

Original Publication: New Media and Marketing 

Date of Publication: January 23, 2019

When it comes to capitalizing on direct response television (DRTV) advertising, some of the best advice comes from privately held startups valued at over $1 billion. That’s because they’ve seemingly mastered the use of TV advertising that directly engages consumers, from launch to growth.

Successful brands like Experian, Dollar Shave Club and Peloton have used DRTV precisely because it is particularly effective for launching and building brands. They appreciate the fact that you can directly engage with consumers by displaying toll-free numbers and/or website URLs and asking them to take specific actions. They also like that DRTV works across all potential consumer touchpoints, is highly measurable, and makes good use of data. And DRTV seamlessly integrates with their entire portfolios of advertising and media channels, including digital, offline, mail, email, radio, print, etc., yet can still be can be customized, targeted and segmented across all those channels.

Brand Strategy

In a recentwebinarhosted by the Data & Marketing Association on the basics of DRTV and its expanding role in brand marketing, I had the privilege of talking with champion unicorn marketer, Nick Fairbairn, who is Chief Marketing, Growth & Revenue Officer for Go. Previously, Fairbairn was Senior VP of Marketing at Le Tote and VP of Brand Marketing at Dollar Shave Club.

In our discussion about DRTV, we covered everything from messaging to the importance of metrics. I recommend you listen to the full webinar, but I’ve pulled out what I think are the top takeaways:

As seen on DRTV

1. Take a portfolio approach
It’s gotten harder and harder for brands to earn market share from traditional TV approaches. Because the more common approaches are losing steam, brands need new ways to capture customers’ attention, and DRTV delivers. But don’t forget you can’t shift to a new medium and forget the rest. You have to build and maintain a portfolio.

DRTV is anchored around accountability performance and measurement, and provides for greater customer targeting and segmentation across all channels. That’s why it is becoming a bigger part of brands’ omnichannel campaigns. But it isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the only part.

I asked Fairbairn for his advice regarding the portfolio approach, and he stressed that dependencies on one channel, such as social media, can spell trouble. “What happens when the algorithms no longer work? Or what happens when the creative stops working? In some of these digital channels you have one second to tell a story. In television, you can tell a little bit more of a story. And you can drive response at the same time.”

2. Know your audience
DRTV’s strong data component is driving its growth. Data helps you identify and target the customer, right-size your message for the customer and also pick and choose the right channels and right devices. That’s critical, because the customer journey has expanded.

The good news is DRTV is rooted in strong data, and that data can be used to sharpen your knowledge about current and potential customers and determine the best channel or channels work best for which audience and which marketing campaign. It’s no longer one customer one channel, now it’s one customer multiple channels and multiple devices.

Fine Tune Your Message

3. Fine-tune your message
Once you know your customer – and again, take full advantage of data to best understand their preferences – it’s time to think about your message. The data can help inform not only the message, but its optimal length and form (short or long) and the right cadence of ads. And how customers consume messaging? You’ll need to consider everything from television to the internet and all the way down to radio and print.

With DRTV, you can take a message and customize for the audience and the channel. That’s important, because the customer journey has expanded. They have choices and are driving their own experiences, and DRTV can help you craft the right message, the right frequency and right channel.

4. Get creative with your creative
Stop the customer before he or she gets up from the couch and walks away. And if you’ve fine-tuned your message (see #3) it’s easier come up with a show-stopping opener. Keep things simple, straightforward and succinct, too.

One question many brands ask is whether to uses a spokesperson. Sometimes, it makes sense. But using spokespeople can be costly and sometimes overtake your message or your brand. Don’t forget the power of testimonials, transformation tales, and imagery.

Fairbairn had some powerful advice about blending visual messaging with audio in DRTV ads, and I couldn’t agree more.

“It’s not just about audio,” Fairbairn said. “People always say to me, ‘You already said it in the spot, so why show it on screen? But there is something about queuing the two pieces together to increase the retention of the message.”

Finally, never end your DRTV advertisement on a weak note. Carefully consider your call to action and brand placement on the screen.

Many common brands have their roots in responsive TV integrated with digital executions. Their strategies and tactics provide great learnings and will provide a great roadmap for the next, great brand launch.

Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target new customers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize customer lifetime value and drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. Contact us to learn more about our expertise by  Contacting Hawthorne.

How Agencies Can Help Prepare The Next Generation Of Data-Driven Marketers

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: AdExchanger

Date of Publication: September 20, 2018

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO at Hawthorne.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

The rise of data science has had a major impact on just about every industry out there, but the effect on marketing and advertising has been particularly acute.

Data science has transformed marketing by providing insight into whom to target with what message and when. As the field has become more data driven, however, the talent pool has struggled to keep up. A sizeable skills gap has emerged. Today, only 1.9% of marketing leaders report that they have the right talent to leverage marketing analytics.

This gap is a problem every marketing team and agency faces. Now that ever-greater portions of marketing budgets are allocated to analytics, employers need people with data skills who can deliver the right ROI from campaigns. A strong data science team is key to being competitive in the marketplace.

As demand for data science skills outstrips supply, marketers have an important role to play in preparing the next generation for data-driven jobs. We can’t sit back and wait for the talent pool to expand.

I see three effective ways agencies can create a pipeline of hires with the combined skill sets needed in today’s advertising world.

Partner with universities

The first approach is to collaborate with universities on curricula. Academia tends to move slower than the market, which means students may not graduate with the actual, practical skills they need to succeed. Conversely, agencies looking for entry-level hires may recruit at universities, only to find a dearth of qualified candidates.

One way to ensure schools are teaching students the skills they need is to open up direct lines of communication. Partnering with educational institutions and providing insight into desirable skills allows agencies to say, “These are the skills we are looking for,” which could include statistics or computer science. The academic departments can then use that information to shape coursework accordingly.

Schools are invested in their graduates finding jobs and usually appreciate feedback about what employers are looking for. If a direct partnership with a university isn’t feasible, getting involved with alumni networks is another way to build those relationships. Look for opportunities to speak on alumni panels and reach out to math or engineering departments to let them know your interest.

Create internship programs

Another strategy is to establish an internship program, which provides a direct way for employers to convey their needs to the next generation and to guide them as they choose their majors and classes. A program that includes hands-on projects gives students real-world experience and drives home the importance of data science skills. When they go back to school, they may be inspired to round out their studies with other disciplines and courses. For example, they could pivot their elective curricula to include SQL and statistics.

Internships are also an opportunity for students with data science backgrounds, who hadn’t considered marketing as a career path before, to see if it’s a good fit. Someone studying computer science or engineering may like that marketing allows them to be creative and may decide to round out their technical coursework with classes in communications. A great way to recruit these students is through job fairs at engineering schools or by posting job listings on websites geared towards programmers.

Work with nonprofits

Beyond university campuses, there are some great organizations out there training the next generation of computer and data scientists. From coding boot camps, to General Assembly, to nonprofits such as Marketing EDGE, these groups can serve as a valuable talent pipeline. Marketing EDGE, for example, helps students who want to break into marketing and advertising learn what they need to be competitive candidates. Getting involved with these groups puts agencies in direct contact with fledgling data scientists.

All of these initiatives are geared toward overcoming the skills gap by building stronger connections between employers and tomorrow’s marketing hires. Marketers and advertisers can prepare the next generation to have the right data-savvy skills by being proactive about outreach and participating in the educational process. The work upfront will pay off down the road.

Standing Out When Marketing Noise is Louder than Ever


By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro 

Original Publication: 

Date of Publication: July 26, 2018

Six Ways To Fight Back And Rise Above The Crowd When The Noise Around You Gets Too Loud For You And Your Customers To Ignore

In a time where the consumer wants, needs, and behaviors are evolving as rapidly as technology and data, it’s becoming harder for marketers to stand out and rise above the noise. Consumers are literally being pummeled from all sides, and across all devices, as they make their way through the day. In fact, the cacophony has become so loud and distracting that all companies need to start taking some extreme measures to rise above the clutter.

Here are six ways your firm can start standing out right now:

1) Think Beyond Your Own Organization
Strive to connect to something that’s bigger than yourself. Have a greater goal for the world. Walk the walk on this commitment by giving a percentage of your profits to charity, donating time to your favorite causes, being an advocate for important issues, or other “giving” activities. Whether you bring awareness to world problems, support environmental causes, or participate in a TED Talk, your ultimate goal should be to have an impact on the world that goes beyond advertising and direct response. At a TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C., for example, I attended a luncheon where Al Gore spoke about climate change and discussed new environmental initiatives. Climate change is a passion of mine, so anytime I can get on board with positive changes, I’m in.

In the end, whatever good works you can do will contribute to the greater good of the world and translate to your own marketplace. It’s no longer OK to operate with tunnel vision or in a silo. We all need to do our part, and in the end, that’s what makes an entire organization—and its valued clients—so successful.

2) Give Back To Your Employees
Make people want to come to work in the morning. Working smart and working hard are big parts of success. I’m a big believer in hard work, but I also think we should have fun at the same time. After all, we spend roughly 30 percent of our lives at work!

Give employees the tools they need to succeed and allow them to do their best creative work in a collaborative, engaging workspace. Strive to foster an atmosphere that infuses employees with pride in working for your company. Celebrate accolades and the fact that valued team members are enthused about coming to work in the morning. This will set your company apart from those where working 9-to-5 is a chore.

3) Improve Transparency With Clients
Put your clients first every time. One of the greatest joys in the advertising business is seeing companies grow, thrive, and reach their potential; they may even merge with other firms or be acquired based on such success. Be passionate about helping your partners achieve success, and you’ll be able to develop a track record that proves it.

Don’t be afraid to be truthful when you offer advice. When we give our clients advice on campaigns, for example, we point to the ROI for every dollar of media invested. We do so for the greater good of that client’s company. Their success is our success—and that’s what we truly enjoy. Any business supporting a DR marketing campaign should follow this model.

4) Merge Analytics With Creative
Few would argue the profound impact that big data has had on the business world, and on marketing in particular. Defined by Gartner research analysts as “high- volume, high-velocity, and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision-making,” big data has pushed marketers to spend more time thinking about exactly how their advertising investments and campaigns translate into bottom-line benefits and corporate growth.

As this trend has advanced, the marketers that identify and use the data that matters most are the ones that achieve better efficiencies, higher return on investment (ROI), and better decision-making for the future. Smart marketers are identifying opportunities that advance their brands’ positions and capabilities, targeting new customers more efficiently, and serving their existing customers more effectively.

At Hawthorne, we see the intersection of data and marketing as a particularly creative junction in and of itself, based on the fact that it allows DR marketers to do what they do best: create and develop effective campaigns that are engaging, accountable, and on-point.

5) Make The Magic Happen
Every company should be able to multiply its media investments with a carefully crafted creative and media campaign. The three simple words at the heart of a strategy should be: launch, grow, and brand. Adopt a strategic approach to creative, media buying, and analytics, and merge them to create a successful campaign. Launch, grow, and brand with an underlying analytical foundation—and consider yourselves to be partners in your clients’ growing businesses.

We have helped clients turn relatively unknown brands and products into sales powerhouses by following these operating philosophies. One of our clients—an online pet food supplier—was acquired for $3.35 billion, and that came less than a year after we launched its first ad campaign. Another client introduced a household product to consumers that became a major brand for a global manufacturer.

You can follow the same path as you partner on projects. Help your client companies grow and take pride in the fact that you’ve contributed to their success and future growth. Then you can enjoy every minute of the journey alongside them.

6) Let Your Customers Tell Your Stories
When making a purchasing decision, the overwhelming majority of consumers, nearly 70% according to a Nielsen survey, trust customer reviews. Aside from the product benefits and features themselves, customer reviews can be the decisive factor for potential buyers who are mulling over their options. The rise of digital media over the past several years makes customer testimonials even more accessible and ubiquitous in the buying process.

So how do you find happy customers to star in your review video? Going to the largest group of consumers with a variety of tactics is key — email blasts and social media contests can be effective ways to identify the right people. Many people are drawn to the idea of appearing on camera, but narrowing down the list to the right group is important.

Once you’ve identified a pool of customers who are willing to participate, take the time to ask them about their use of the product or service to make sure they connect with the brand. A consumer who really connects to a product will naturally bring up points that align with the brand message.

By employing some or (preferably) all of these tactics, you’ll be able to effectively position your company for success in any advertising environment—even one where you have to rise above the noise to be heard.

Increase Customer Engagement With Data-Driven Marketing

By Jessica Hawthorne-Castro (YPO Los Angeles)

Original Publication: YPO.Org

How companies are leveraging data to develop complete, multi-channel pictures of exactly what their customers think and want — and then fulfilling those needs.

There isn’t a corner of the advertising world that hasn’t been touched by data-driven marketing, or the use of data to make good decisions and improve engagement with both existing and future customers. And much like the proliferation of data is impacting the business world as a whole, effective data integration and assessment continue to play a key role in helping companies enhance their value across numerous channels.
The flow of data throughout the data-driven marketing economy is forcing traditional producer-centric firms to become increasingly customer-centric, according to the DMA Data-Driven Marketing Institute in “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation, and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy.”
In today’s organizations, customers are used to getting exactly what they want, and they expect companies to fulfill those needs. Through the use of both internal and external data, companies are learning how to “crown” their customer — truly understand what makes them tick — and then develop campaigns that engage those buyers in the most effective manner possible.

The rise of the data-driven marketer and consumer
More than 40 percent of brands plan to expand their data-driven marketing budgets in the near future, according to eMarketer. Data enables companies to make better decisions and map out a clearer customer journey. It also enables brands to personalize content more effectively and at scale.
Data-driven marketing has advanced significantly in the programmatic buying sector, but it also impacts campaign creative. In the past, creative was produced once, with one version for everyone — an ad was one, final, self-contained file that could run anywhere. That is no longer the case. Intrusive rich media ads are losing ground to more consumer-friendly formats that use personalization, rather than interruption, to get the message across. Creative, media and data are all converging as marketers strive to tailor messages based on who is seeing it and where.
The use of customer information for optimal and targeted media buying and creative messaging, data-driven marketing has been key to taking any guess work out of questions like who, when, where, or what message, and making those answers actionable. Consumers are becoming increasingly picky about the messages they read and the products they buy. In this landscape, marketers have to create personalized messages in order to attract and retain customers. This requires collecting and analyzing data.

No more hit-or-miss media testing
Data-driven marketing has effectively replaced the traditional “hit-or-miss” test component of the typical marketing campaigns. For example, at Hawthorne we typically ask new clients for one to two years’ worth of data in order to identify statistically relevant response curves for past campaigns and marketing efforts. We then use a statistical approach to web attribution analytics to measure the response curve of media airings and extrapolate the hidden signal from the visible signal through a proven methodology. With this information in hand, marketers can set baselines for current and future campaign effectiveness.