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 / Summer 2014 / Issue 75(originally published by Booz & Company)


How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Model

Building the Right Capabilities

It’s virtually impossible to be great at all of the digital marketing capabilities we’ve identified. That’s why each company must focus only on the capabilities that align best with its digital marketing model. There is a link that connects the company’s strategy, the digital marketing model it needs, and the marketing organization and marketing capabilities required to succeed with that model. The capabilities necessary to succeed as a Digital Brander will be different from those required by a Demand Generator. This is not an ironclad relationship—there are multiple paths to success, and even companies pursuing the same Demand Generator model, for instance, may choose to emphasize different capabilities. But in general, certain models require that the company have a specific set of supporting capabilities (see Exhibit).

Digital Models in Practice

Coca-Cola is a perfect example of a Digital Brander. Teens and young adults are its biggest consumer segments, and to keep its brand strong with these consumers, Coca-Cola is hyper-focused on finding ways to embed itself in popular culture. With this in mind, the company has invested in differentiated capabilities including “optimized content” and “social influence and advocacy.”

This means that Coca-Cola identifies experiences that are consistent with its brand, creates content around those experiences, and then encourages its community of users to share additional content that they create through social engagement. Although not all of this material goes viral in the communities Coca-Cola is targeting, the company is far more successful than others, thanks to the development of these specific capabilities.

For example, in one recent promotion, Coca-Cola developed unique vending machines equipped with video displays that allowed consumers in two cities (Lahore, Pakistan, and Delhi, India) to interact. Because of political and religious differences, the two groups know very little about each other, but the video project—an update of the company’s famous “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” campaign—was aimed at connecting them through a shared experience. The campaign generated tremendous buzz for Coke, and was heavily shared on social media, in part because it was so emotionally resonant.

Another example of seeding content into popular culture was a Coke Zero contest on social media for “my favorite dance moves.” The winning dance went viral around the globe, with the Coke Zero brand integrated into the content throughout. Coca-Cola was recognized as the marketer of the year at Cannes in 2013, in large part due to its innovative approach to marketing through shared content.

Virgin’s airline operations, on the other hand, are a good example of a Customer Experience Designer. Like many other airlines, Virgin wants to avoid being seen by passengers as simply a utility. Instead, it aims to create a more customer-centric branded experience that starts before the customer buys a ticket, continues during the flight, and extends after the trip is over. With this in mind, Virgin has focused attention on building a “segmentation and needs assessment” capability and an “omnichannel experience” creation capability.

In practice, this means the airline uses purchasing and behavioral data to segment customers, identify needs and pain points, and create a personalized experience across all channels—whether customers are at home on the computer, on a mobile phone, using in-flight screens, or interacting with Virgin staff members.

For example, Virgin is investing in a more interactive and personalized in-flight experience that is tailored to different segments of travelers. A frequent traveler to London might get specialized content after takeoff, like the latest reviews of restaurants around Piccadilly. Passengers will also be able to interact with a concierge service while on the flight and with other passengers via Chatter, a social media messaging platform from The entertainment options and other aspects of the experience will also be personalized on the basis of a user profile built over time (through factors such as the videos customers opted to watch, the meals and drinks they purchased, and other personalized elements).

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