Recently, The CMO Club in partnership with IBM, produced Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination, a CMO Solution Guide. After months of research and interviews with top executives, the results uncovered significant ways that the marketing world is being flipped on its head.

At The CMO Club Fall Summit, IBM co-hosted a panel session where CMOs opened the door to their marketing strategies and gave us a glimpse into how some of the world’s top brands are marketing today.

Moderated by the CMO Club’s Sandra Zoratti, panelists also weighed in about how these changes translate to their own brands.

Here are the four major findings from the CMO Solution Guide and IBM Summit Panel:

Key Finding #1: We Are In A Marketing Renaissance

Lisa Bratkovich, SVP of Marketing at Guthy|Renker, LLC confirmed the focus has pivoted from one solely on acquisition to now also notably include retention and customer advocacy, both in prioritization and budget allocation. She has invested in advocacy marketing via ratings and reviews, for example, with impressive impact on search and conversion.  Bratkovich recognizes that customers and advocates (especially for brands in Guthy|Renker’s arsenal, such as Proactiv) are one of a brand’s strongest marketing assets today.

“Guthy-Renker encourages advocacy and recognizes word of mouth is a key influencer in the buyer’s journey,” said Bratkovich.

With a rise in peer sharing online, consumers use this method to spread the word about products they use and love. Looking to stay ahead of the game, 57% of marketers interviewed during the IBM research said they plan on budget increases, and a majority of them plan to allocate these resources to leveraging their powerful consumer voices.

Key Finding #2: Invest Across The Experience, Not The Funnel

Consumers are cutting out the middleman. Technology has allowed consumers to do their own research, make more informed decisions and jump into the purchase process at their own pace.

Michael Lacorazza, EVP of Integrated Marketing at Wells Fargo shared an example:

“In the past, home buyers would go to a realtor, who would refer them to a mortgage broker or directly to Wells Fargo. Now, many consumers research and apply for a home loan before calling a realtor for a showing of a house. You have to be much further upstream in the customer journey or you risk not being in the consideration set.”

He stressed that creating visibility around all the consumer options is vital. It doesn’t work to have 50 sales reps waiting for the phone to ring/trying to create demand – brands need to help and educate the consumer so that the consumer selects the brand at decision time.

Key Finding #3: Learn From The Rise of Digital Multitaskers 

Uni-directional tactics like print or TV are valuable for a portion of the buyers journey.  Multi-directional tactics like digital and social, are present at every stage of the buyers journey, because that is how consumers interact to make buying decisions.  Thus today’s marketing leaders are using digital as a “multi-tasking” solution across the entire buyers journey — from discovery to selection to purchase — and it’s working.

Aimee Munsell, VP of Marketing at IBM explained the transition away from the traditional approach of reaching consumers to the multi-dimensional mindset of social media marketing:

“In the past, we used TV up front for broad based awareness followed by something else. It was sequential. Now, marketing is “serial” and digital tactics encompass the entire journey.”

Key Finding #4: Bet On Every Horse In The Race

While it seems counter-intuitive to “bet on every horse in the race” to overstretched marketers, Munsell explained that this actually helps brands be more efficient with their efforts. Using agile marketing to test and iterate is a more efficient way to learn what is working, invest accordingly and to quickly de-invest in areas that are not engaging.

Addressing buyers with a nimble marketing strategy that can test and transform before, during and after campaigns helps improve results and inform budget decisions. Better technology allows marketers to then re-allocate spending to the areas that prove successful, and ensure a better overall outcome.

Bratkovich agreed in the importance of agility around marketing:

“If you place bets on different horses, you learn quickly where to invest for success and cut what’s not working. It’s different from the past, when you could often only test a few aspects at a time, needed more time to get results and ultimately had less learnings to inform decisions.”

The overall bottom line? Marketers can leverage technology and a changing consumer mindset to emerge as leaders in consumer experience.

Read the full CMO Solution Guide, Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination.