How Marketers Can Customize ‘Purpose-Driven Marketing’ By Consumer — And Channel

'Customers engage with media in different ways even as the brand stays consistent,' HP's Carmen True explains. 'What makes an experience useful and engaging person by person, platform by platform?'

The idea of “purpose-driven marketing” is a hot topic, with an estimated 91 percent of Millennials saying that they would switch brands to one associated with a cause. But how can brands put the concept of expressing a stand or sentiment into practice in a way that customers will respond to — and deliver a relevant marketing message at the same time?

As global head of digital experience and marketing innovation at HP, Carmen True deals with the challenge of taking big ideas and creative concepts and making them work on the individual customer level — and part of the key, she says, is questioning built-in brand assumptions.

“It’s certainly about having the [right] customer data and research — but also going out and questioning our assumptions,” True said. “For example, who you were as a customer a year ago is not who you are today.”

GeoMarketing: You just spoke on a panel at Brand Innovators here at Cannes Lions, spotlighting women in marketing leadership positions. What are some of your biggest takeaways from the festival this year — and what will you take home to implement in your work as a leader at HP?

Carmen True: This is really our second year coming and having a presence at Cannes. Last year, we made a really big effort to do it in a different way. A lot of Cannes has traditionally been about people who have exceeded, who are more established in their career being able to come. What we did is a bit the opposite: bringing in younger people with between five and 10 years experience in the creative space. They got to have interviews with people they would have never had access to before, and I think [that approach] helps make for fresher ideas and discussions as well.

In terms of what ideas we’ll bring back, it’s certainly about diverse communities as well. The idea is that [we should] represent this creative community as a diverse creative community, and there are many opportunities to come out of that as well as the youth aspect.

Just talking about the idea of representation and diversity has been a really big theme this year — and it’s about time. And that is [part of our purpose] and our journey at HP.

You’re the global head of digital experience and marketing innovation at HP. How do you take “big ideas” and back them up with more granular insights that actually inform your work — and help you reach your customers on a one-to-one basis? 

One, we have to work on being very instrumental in terms of setting the vision of what [innovation] and purpose means for the company. We have to ask, “what does that really mean for us? How does that apply to our individual products or services?”

For example, one big idea or topic is purpose-driven marketing. So we have to then ask, “how do we bring the emotional connection aspect into that? How do we build those pieces and actually make them come to life?” HP has a strong brand purpose, but [building that] into our digital experiences — and how we communicate that to customers — has to be customized.

In the course of doing this, [marketers] need to think about, what is an actual digital experience? Because whether it’s on the web or through social, we engage with media in different ways [even as] the brand stays consistent. What makes an experience useful and engaging person by person, platform by platform?

We also listen. We take into account new offerings from our agency partners,  new, different types of research and information, and then we decide what’s going to have the most impact for us specifically as a company — and it helps us address some of our gaps in getting to our customers and meeting their needs.

In terms of meeting those needs, it’s always about creating that personalized, relevant experience on each platform. That said, are there new technologies that are top of mind for you at HP today? What are you thinking about? 

Well, honestly, tech stack is always on my mind.

Especially leading digital, there is no question about it: We need to know what’s the right investment level for a technology stack — and what kinds of technology solutions we actually need. Then, most importantly, it’s about [building a strategy] for how our marketers actually take it, use it and amplify it to be effective. You can buy a tech stack all day long, but if your marketers don’t know how to use it, it’s an organizational change that has to go with getting a new technology stack.

However, the tech stack part, to be fair, is a bit of the easy solution. The harder part is actually taking it, implementing creative against it, and having an impact in the market. We don’t want to be a generic or intrusive brand. We are a brand of purpose, and we want to engage with our customers in that purposeful way — making sure that we’re implementing [technology] internally or externally in the right way that meets our brand objective.

And how do you put that into action? 

Well, even just looking at you reminds me that we have so many different customer types. Younger, older, athletic, active on social media, off social media completely… So, the answer to “which medium” or “which platform” to message on changes drastically by the customer. That is also true, of course, for how we communicate that brand purpose.

That means having a fundamental understanding of that piece — having the customer data and research to support it — but also going out and questioning our assumptions. For example, who you were a year ago is not who you are today. That data needs to constantly be fresh.

Also, how you engage on mobile platforms changes drastically. The minute Instagram Stories came out, everything changed. Some people on Snap went to Insta Story — but then again, you still have the whole Snap population, so how do you work through that?

The customer’s ability to interact and engage with those things is changing drastically, too. Brands who were never on Snap are now dealing with video and short term content on Instagram, because they were already part of Instagram. That was something a lot of people didn’t see coming.

Then if you take that insight and move it over to Facebook users, that is potentially another demographic. How you engage them in video there is very different than it is in the others.

For us, we’re predominantly a digital play. That’s a really important thing. The other thing is that you have to look at it by market. In India, Asia and places like that, we still focus a lot on larger print and those pieces, for example; thinking geolocation specific is very important to us.

[It’s critical] to really customize by the product, by the country, and by the exact location.

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.