Winning the marketing mission and the need for balanced KPIs

November 01, 2021 | By: Brendan Flaherty, Writer, Brand Content

This is ‘My best advice,’ a series that asks advertising experts to share key learnings from their career journeys, the best advice they’ve ever received, and insights to help grow brands and businesses.

Publicis EVP, Amy Lanzi, thinks a lot about balance—whether that’s helping clients take a balanced approach to their marketing by using data to form a unified view; balancing short-term growth and sales versus long-term brand equity; or her belief that work-life balance is really just “managing all the things we care about.”

And what Amy cares about, in addition to her family, is commerce. She leads Publicis Groupe’s commerce practice in North America, including product and talent development for the region. She’s also responsible for accelerating and connecting commerce practitioners from across the global Publicis network, such as Spark Foundry, Starcom, Arc, Saatchi & Saatchi X, and Zenith.

Before Publicis, she spent more than 20 years growing Omnicom’s retail marketing agency, TPN. Throughout her career, she’s been fascinated by the final mile in retail and what makes consumers transact.

Her approach to work, to life, to work-life is shaped by a piece of advice her dad gave her—to win every day. “You can win every day by writing the best PowerPoint, or having the best meeting, or hitting your best personal 5K run time,” she says. “The idea is bringing your best self, and avoiding waste—waste of time, waste of energy.”

That philosophy helps her prioritize and better guide her clients on important topics for their brands, like building meaningful connections with audiences.

How can advertising help create meaningful connections between brands and consumers?

We're attracted to brands because of the stories they tell us and how they make us feel. That remains unchanged from the Mad Men days of advertising. But what has changed is that the buying mechanisms have created a much faster path to purchase. Brands now have the ability to move very quickly from being one that makes consumers feel; to: “Wow, I've just discovered something;” to: “Now I'm going to buy that.”

Pre-COVID, I went to the Transit Museum in New York City, and I saw some of the old ads that used to be on subways and buses. There were plenty of bizarre antiquated headlines, like: “A man that wears a hat is the man a woman will want to marry.” Wow. But overall, it made me realize that there really was a slower time.

Today, we have content coming at us constantly. Standing out in a very crowded space requires brands to create that emotional connection, and consistent brand stories are what create long-term value. And how we're innovating to bring the right content to engage our audiences is key.

How do brand stories create long-term value for advertisers?

That idea was very much crystallized for me when I worked on a global baby brand. We were evaluating the journey to parenthood, which is fundamentally the same for everyone across the globe. So it became really interesting working to understand what motivates first-time expectant moms to buy and what brands they choose. We found that this particular audience really fell in love with the brands whose content made them feel confident about tackling this new challenge, through stories and content. There’s a utilitarian component to that as well, but ultimately the brands that made them feel like they’d be good parents are the ones they added to their parenting toolkit.

At a higher level, understanding consumers’ wants and needs, and delivering on them with relevant content is what helps consumers fall in love with brands and why they choose you, especially in very emotional moments.

quoteUpWe're attracted to brands because of the stories they tell us and how they make us feel.quoteDown
Amy Lanzi, North America Commerce Lead, Publicis Groupe

How can insights help brands reach their audiences more effectively?

Audience insights enable brands to get smarter about seeing consumers in a passive moment, like when they're streaming TV. From an audience and a measurement standpoint, we are now able to have more confidence in our digital advertising. And I mean, this is taking a page from Amazon, in terms of how we think about consumers’ worlds working together.

If you're smart in terms of how you're investing with Amazon Ads, you can figure out how quickly you can help consumers move from seeing an ad during a Thursday Night Football game to buying potato chips. If you’re really good at that, with the right creative, you can see how well you’re tapping into that broader canvas to grow your business. To do that well, it’s important for brands to think in terms of the mission versus the traditional marketing funnel.

We do still use the term “full-funnel.” But I use it purposefully because I sit in a commerce space, and that’s about being an advocate for partners that really do have a full-funnel solution when it comes to retail media, like Amazon. Although this might be a different way of looking at things, compared to legacy media principles and how we’ve viewed the full funnel experience in the past.

What is a marketing mission?

Missions are basically objectives for a consumer that brands should be enabling, like back-to-school shopping, weekly grocery stock-ups, or planning a birthday party. You need to really be customer-centric and think from your customer’s perspective: What does that mission look like? And what are the tasks that the customer has to accomplish for that mission? That’s how I think about how you should be planning. Understanding the consumer mindset early on in that mission, versus close to purchase, and how you are enabling them to stay with you throughout that process.

When you think about the mission and the multiple jobs that need to be done as part of that, it forces you to be more precise, like: “Okay, what does that audience look like? What's the actual universe?” And then, “How can I grow in these segments and in these demand moments?"

I think today the traditional funnel still applies to highly considered purchases. Most people aren’t buying 17 cars in their lifetime, right? It applies also to life stages, like if your kid’s going to college or you’re an empty nester, you do certain things, so it’s important to reach those prospects. But, in general, consumers move much faster between discovery, purchase, consideration, et cetera.

How should brands think about the mission in their messaging?

I like to use a metaphor of a friend, even a good friend—we don’t want them talking to us all the time, do we? Imagine if you have a relationship with someone, and they keep telling you on SMS, “This is what I think is happening,” over and over, or sending you constant updates for shoes. Look, I'm never buying 2,000 pairs of shoes. So enough. Stop bugging me. Now, you’ve become an annoying friend. In terms of a mission, most people are probably only looking to purchase shoes a handful of times a year, and at specific times. That means brands need to be intentional with when they choose to message their customers and prospective customers.

And relevance is crucial. What is your message otherwise? “Hey, you have feet. Do you want to buy shoes?” That wouldn’t be the best customer experience. And that is all about the UX of what you're making versus the relevance. Because if it's done right, and it's compelling, and you have compelling content, then relevant and tailored messaging and recommendations are helpful and welcome.

How important is measurement to achieving business objectives?

If you can't measure it, we don't know what happened. The foundation of measurement has to be there—especially in the space I'm in, because there's a lot of convincing still that clients need to be reshaping their traditional approach to marketing. So, it's very important.

I also think it's important that the measurement approach has balanced key performance indicators (KPIs). If you are only measuring to vanity metrics, like brand love—it’s probably not going to matter, especially in a C-suite world. And also, if you're not having some sort of brand metrics, and it's only about sales—that probably won’t serve for most CMOs, because they're in the business of building brands over time.

Having well-rounded KPIs is key. Otherwise, you might be igniting some internal battles and not seeing the full picture. Sales are important, but so is brand equity. It can’t just be one or the other. It’s everything. From a holistic standpoint, it’s all about managing that balance.