Branex - International
Kristin Gallucci Intreview

Two Decades of Digital Marketing Transformation Through the Eyes of Kristin Gallucci

Branex is back with yet another special guest. The guest, we’re delighted to have today, has been in the industry for nearly two decades and has practically experienced the paradigm shift of digital marketing. She has been dubbed as one of the top voices for Marketing & Social Media on Linkedin for consecutive years: 2018 and 2019.

As an avid customer-centric marketer, she founded Modern Marketer, which has helped scores of brands and Fortune 50-500 companies with branding and social strategies. She is often cited in famous publications like Adweek and Inc. Magazine.

Being a passionate speaker, she regularly speaks about how the world of digital marketing is evolving and what marketers should do to glean more eyeballs. Recently she graced TED Talks with her presence and spoke passionately about Rethinking Relationships.

Currently, she’s serving as the head of digital marketing strategy at Signarama and is on the Board of the American Marketing Association. With immense pleasure and gratitude, we would like to welcome Kristin Gallucci on our blog.

Branex: Kristin, thanks for taking out time for Branex. One of the most prominent things about your marketing approach is that it revolves around customers. How necessary is it for modern-day marketers to provide solutions for their customers rather than focusing on highlighting their products and services?

Kristin: Focusing on customers isn’t just a consideration, it has to become a core value. People don’t want to be sold to, they want their problems solved, fast and friction-free. They want to build relationships, but on their terms. It’s our job as marketers to help them make choices and solve their problems while building a long-term relationship. It’s not easy and it starts with listening to them and nurturing the relationship to create brand loyalists.

Customer-centricity is a culture shift and must be embraced by the entire organization to be successful. It must become a core value of the organization and be infused in every department not just marketing – customer service, sales, etc. Organizations have countless customer touchpoints and endless opportunities to build relationships and trust. An organization that forgets about customers is destined to fail.

Branex: Marketing has evolved so much in the past two decades, do you think there is still space for traditional marketing tactics?

Kristin: We are in the era of specialization. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to market any product or service. A digital presence is necessary, traditional tactics are not. Consumers now rely on digital marketing and other tools to make their product discoveries and purchase decisions. However, every marketing strategy and plan must be customized. I know a lot of companies that are thriving with traditional methods as well as with digital. Many brands and companies are using tradigital, a blend of the two. The idea is to use the traditional in new ways with a focus on creativity and customer experience. I recently posted this example on Linkedin of a British Airways campaign using OOH in a unique way.

They used surveillance technology to sync the creative with actual flights in real-time. It’s a unique approach to OOH, something we haven’t seen much of here in the US, but I believe these unique experiences will become more common as companies seek to find new ways to capture attention.

Branex: Advertising is still a heavily spent area for brands and provides a chance for advertising agencies to come up with new innovative ways to attract customers through ATL and BTL activities. How much do advertising agencies focus on digital media and is it more effective than going towards the old-school forms of advertising?

Kristin: It can be more effective generally, but it also depends on the audience. If you are targeting Gen Z, traditional methods won’t be effective. They are a device generation, they use voice and want everything faster. Impactful visuals and effective messaging will always win, the platform and tools we use are ever-evolving.  Digital and interactive media is necessary.

When it comes to developing strategies, both ATL and BTL can be successful, they are just different. If there is a budget, then TTL (through the line), a mix of both ATL and BTL, should be considered. If we take a short-term planning approach and test campaigns, then we can shift as needed, as the market dictates.

Branex: You are one of the prominent voices, actually, Top Voices on Linkedin for 2018/2019 and a TED Talks speaker. What would you like to tell digital marketers, entrepreneurs who are beginning their journeys in the realm of digital marketing?

Kristin: I recently wrote a post on this

The industry is influenced significantly by major technological and social changes. What we are learning today is not going to be applicable in 5-10 years. We must always be learning. Read the industry publications, attend events (even outside marketing like SXSW and CES) and listen to the voices that are on top of the changing industry.

Don’t get lost in the weeds, in the tactics. With so many platforms and tools at our disposal, marketers can get caught up in being on every platform. Test and find what works, less is more.

Everything shouldn’t be automated. We need to maintain a close connection with our audience, get to know and understand them so we can better communicate with them.

Branex: As we all know, content marketing is becoming tougher day-by-day with people from all walks of life jumping on to digital marketing bandwagon. How do you think modern marketers can make their content stand out?

Kristin: What we know at this point is that content marketing is no longer a one-off campaign; it’s a long-term ongoing effort. The best of all marketing should be applied to content, it should be visual and engaging, even experiential. It should capture attention and keep your audience coming back. It should move customers through the journey, without them feeling as though they’re moving through “a customer journey.”

Content marketing can no longer be considered as a marketing lure, it should be the destination, which means it needs to provide value. Creating valuable content is a way to build a long-term meaningful relationship with your customers. It should always be created with them in mind.

Branex: Being a marketing maven, what would you suggest to brands and startups who are facing difficulty with their digital and social media strategy?

Kristin: Marketing has become diverse and complex, and at times, difficult to manage. Where companies often struggle is overcomplicating. The task for marketing executives is to simplify – prioritize, streamline and focus on reaching the goals we’ve been given and the results we’re accountable for. Truly simplifying takes a disciplined, holistic approach.

Marketing is a test, tweak, test and rollout. So many companies build a yearly plan and launch then have to adjust when it’s too late. Build in a testing phase, so there are no failures, only failed tests. Get back to basics, understand your customer and build a relationship, meet them where they are.

Branex: What are the best options for a marketer who is just starting? What courses do they have to take up to nail marketing?

Kristin: This answer will likely change in a few years, but right now I suggest getting Google Analytics and Adwords certified as a basic recourse. Then it will depend on what interests you have, is there a vertical (SEO, PPC) you want to focus on or an industry? Become the expert or voice in that industry, generalists are a dying breed. There are a lot of free courses and content available like Hubspot, Copyblogger. Many of the trusted industry associations are creating course curriculum as well.

Branex: Lastly, Branex is a web and app development plus digital marketing agency that helps startups and small businesses grow. How important is it for businesses, new or established, to collaborate with professional digital media agencies?

Kristin: I started in an agency, so it’s close to my heart. I know the value an agency can bring. Brand managers can often get too close to the brand, so an outside perspective is helpful and it can boost creativity. Working with agencies is a great way to fill gaps, it’s difficult to hire internally for every skill set needed in today’s modern marketing. However, agencies need to prove they are more valuable than hiring internally. How? By marrying data with creativity, providing specializations, working faster and smarter, being proactive by anticipating the needs of the brand manager, and building trust.

No one has a crystal ball, so we can’t predict the future of agencies. However, there has to be a real willingness for the agency of the future to be more adaptive and reflective of clients’ needs.

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Usman Ahmed

A digital marketer, who is curious about many things and wants to make an impact on the digital world.