Getting to the ‘why’ behind the numbers

In part two of our C-Suite Summit roundtable, we hear the case for contextualizing data and making better use of PR.
MES RoundTable 1


In the weeks leading up Marketing Evolution: C-Suite Summit, Strategy Marketing C-Suite and strategy magazine are presenting excerpts from a roundtable discussion where brand leaders discussed everything from technological opportunities and brand authenticity to the perils of innovation.

In the first part of our roundtable, General Mills’s marketing VP Emma Eriksson, SickKids’ VP of brand strategy and communication Lori Davison and Jason Chaney, CCO at Koho (pictured above, L-R) compared notes on how they’ve seen their roles shift recently to take on ever-more responsibility as they try to keep up with changing consumers.

Continuing our conversation, strategy explored how data continues to shape their campaigns and heard the case for earned media being a bigger part of the plan.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Strategy: Let’s talk about starts, stops and changes? What would you encourage the industry to start doing? Or stop doing? What needs to change?

Emma Eriksson: We should start being of service to people. When we first started some of our work, everyone was very scared, because we thought we weren’t going to get credit. We thought we’d be seen as just promoting public service announcements. But we really connected. We were truly of service in an authentic way. People will give you credit.

Chaney: I’d say stop overthinking. This is probably one that I see happen a lot, particularly in Canada. We should start making ourselves uncomfortable, start pushing the marketing landscape. There’s two great marketers beside me that have done a great job with that, evolving the way people market.

Davison: I think most marketers underestimate the power of an earned media strategy. They think that PR is something that happens when you do good creative. But if you strategize around it from the beginning, it’s such a powerful amplification tool. It’s proven to be, for me, the most powerful tool in our arsenal. And I think a lot of organizations silo-off PR.

Strategy: We talked earlier about tech, but what about data? Are we still seeing it change the marketer’s role?

Jason Chaney: It feels like data puts everything in control and that having that data allows us to make business-based arguments to whoever we need to make those arguments to. [But] those arguments are fallible, as is research, as is everything else. And so I think, at the end of the day, everything is kinda circling back to affecting people on an individual basis and the tools with which we do that.

Strategy: This may veer into very familiar arguments about research versus creativity.

Chaney: I mean, data only can tell you what people do. Right? It requires a level of contextualization and understanding of why they’re doing exactly what they’re doing. And then, you need to deconstruct exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing, you know?… Only real behavioural psychology could really explain why people are doing things.

Lori Davison: Data informed our latest round of work. We found that, for whatever reason, video performs really well for us on Facebook and social media. But what converts better to donations is still photography. So we have more of a kind of two-tiered approach now, where video is about engagement, and when we’re going for the hard ask, we use still photography. There’s so much of this sort of thing now – iterative learning.

Strategy: Is this for the “VS” campaign?

Davison That’s for if we’re going out using the “VS” campaign platform with an ask for monthly donors. The actual click and conversion is better [with photos]. People are still consuming the video like mad, but they may do that first and then they need to be prompted.

Strategy: Maybe they’re too busy crying their eyes out to find their wallets?

Davison: Ha. Well, maybe we need to catch them in a more rational moment.

Chaney: Well, it’s an important point, though. If you just looked at the raw data, then you might have said, “Well, then we should just do images.”

Davison: Yeah.

Chaney: But, you have to contextualize that data and ask “Why?”… We’re in the business of changing behaviour. So what behaviour are we trying to change or encourage?