From Campaign to Ecosystem - How to Create Stronger Marketing Strategies

Episode 1 February 08, 2023 00:39:51
From Campaign to Ecosystem - How to Create Stronger Marketing Strategies
The Loop Marketing Podcast
From Campaign to Ecosystem - How to Create Stronger Marketing Strategies

Feb 08 2023 | 00:39:51


Hosted By

Elise Stieferman

Show Notes

Welcome to Season 2 of The Loop Marketing Podcast!

We’re excited to kick off 2023 with a new episode discussing how brands can create stronger marketing strategies by moving away from short-sighted, one-off campaigns and instead curate a holistic marketing ecosystem that places the audience experience at the center.

Throughout this episode, we welcome Coegi's VP of Marketing and Innovation, Ryan Green, and Senior Account Strategy Director, Monica Herschelman, as they discuss the differing philosophies behind marketing ecosystems vs. the traditional marketing campaigns. They'll also breakdown the reasons why marketers need to eliminate silos between earned, owned-and-operated, and paid media to have a cohesive brand message and experience across the ecosystem.

Additionally, we’ll have some great Q&As on how to apply these learnings, whether you’re a regional brand just getting started or a global powerhouse. 


About Coegi:

Coegi is a performance-driven marketing partner for brands and agencies enabled by a best-in-class technology stack to deliver specialized services across digital strategy, programmatic media buying and integrated social media and influencer campaigns.

Learn how Coegi can work with your brand or agency:

Read more on our blog:

Follow @CoegiPartners:






0:00-0:56  Intro

0:56-1:53 Guest Welcome

1:53-7:07 Defining Ecosystems vs. Campaigns

7:07-18:18 Implementing Ecosystems

18:18-24:48  Key Benefits of Ecosystems


24:48-29:32 Are ecosystems only for big brands while massive budgets?

29:32-32:57 What are the biggest challenges of working with an ecosystem?

32:57-39:00 What is the first step a brand should take to start building these ecosystems?

39:00-39:44  Outro


#digitalmarketingtrends #marketingpodcast

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Elise Stieferman: Welcome to season two of the Loop Marketing Podcast. We're excited to kick off 2023 with a new episode, discussing how brands can create stronger marketing strategies by moving away from short-sighted, one-off campaigns, and instead curating a holistic marketing ecosystem that places the audience experience at the center. Throughout this episode, you can expect to hear more about the differing philosophies behind marketing ecosystems versus the traditional marketing campaigns. We also break down the reasons why marketers need to eliminate silos between earned, owned-and-operated, and paid media to have a cohesive brand message and experience across the ecosystem. Additionally, we'll have some great Q&As on how to apply these learnings, whether you're a regional brand that's just getting started or a global powerhouse. Let's dive in. All right, so today we're excited to have senior account strategy director, Monica Herschelman, and Vice President of Marketing and Innovation, Ryan Green, on the Loop Marketing Podcast. Ryan and Monica have worked together to bring the concept of the marketing ecosystem to life for a variety of clients, because regardless of industry, brand marketing strategies must all have the audience at the center to be successful. And they feel strongly that building an ecosystem rather than a campaign provides a more holistic view of how your audiences, your channels and tactics are woven together, building results that are greater than the sum of its parts. So, welcome, Monica and Ryan. We're excited to dive deeper into this topic. Ryan Green: Excited to be here. Thanks for inviting me. Monica Herschelman: Thanks for having us. Elise: All right. So to kick things off, I'd like to hear a little more from each of you about the way you perceive the differences between what is a marketing campaign versus what is a marketing ecosystem. So, Ryan, do you want to start that off? Ryan: Sure. I think we're all familiar with the vernacular of the campaign in marketing. I think even consumers know what a marketing campaign is at this point. And really that language came from the military, came from World War I, World War II, where you had a target - in this case, an audience - where a campaign would be an objective that you'd be trying to hit or take out an audience with, right? The reason that translated from the military to marketing is because it involved a lot of strategy. You really had to have strategies for how, when, and why you would pick certain places or conduct military campaign. Iin the same way you want to be strategic in how you decide to do advertising and marketing. But our viewpoint is that that's become very antiquated. That in modern campaigns, having something that is siloed, having an objective that has a time limit to it, it feels very finite. It's very specific and doesn't take into account the holistic nature of how to really articulate a communication strategy in 2023. So instead, we think it's a lot smarter to think about an ecosystem instead, something that's organic. We use the metaphor of a garden, right? You can have multiple different types of plants in a garden that need tending to in different ways but that ultimately flourish and create fruit that can be long lasting and can be something that's positive to not just the consumer that your target is, but to the environment and to the ecosystem in general. So we think that's a much cleaner, nicer way, one, to talk about our relationship with consumers, but also from a strategic point of view. I think it's more important to be able to curate an audience than to bombard them. I know Monica has a lot more to say about that. Monica: We've always been talking about audience-first that we have to have an audience to target the audience, but this ecosystem really is audience-centric. So every single touchpoint that we talk about, let it be paid or organic or earned, all has a role within the ecosystem because it grows that audience. It targets and provides where that audience is, how they want to read it and how they want to see it, but then also be able to create and curate messages in a different way that still offer brand value to that audience. And so the ecosystem really highlights the audience-centricity of it, and it surrounds them with not just a display campaign or a social campaign. It influences the audience in all their touchpoints of their daily lives. And it really maps out the overall communication strategy instead of just saying “okay, paid go earn impressions, earn, go put some PR results out organic posts on your socials.” It really holistically has - it breaks down the barriers of traditional advertising where you have all these cross departments and it focuses, brings centricity to the audience, and the planning around it, without barrier. I think that the biggest thing is how we are able to really take those touchpoints and make things more meaningful than having one touchpoint on one channel and this audience. We can intertwine and really make a message map and a blueprint to get the target audience to see the value of what the brand is offering. Elise: I think you bring up a good point. I feel like “audience-first” has been something that we've talked about for a long time from a digital perspective, but it's really becoming something that's having to be retired sooner rather than later, because it depends so heavily on cookies, right? And so having more of this audience centric mentality is critical to bring brands into the forefront of the 21st century. Again, being progressive marketers, but I'm sure something that feels complex to our listeners is how to actually take this pretty heady concept and actually develop it into something that has more of a concrete activation/implementation strategy. So are you all able to share with us kind of an example of how you can help identify an audience and curate specific touchpoints that are more meaningful to them versus something that's very brand heavy or brand self-serving? Ryan: Well, I think the idea of the campaign is that very heavy handed, specific and finite control that a brand wants to have over its target, over its consumers. Where the ecosystem idea, it's slower. It takes a lot of time to grow a garden. It takes a lot of time to be able to surround an audience in a way that feels organic, right? So, I think a lot of especially the CFO types, they want something to happen now. They want to be able to see immediate progress, but the ecosystem takes a lot longer, right? And it takes gently massaging an audience to be able, just to put a little fertilizer here that may be different than what you would put on the other side of the garden. But knowing that that soil and that base is going to work together to make all of the parts of your garden and the plants grow stronger. So to make, to bring that to life we can talk about a CPG example that Monica and I both worked on, where they were trying to move from a very athletic audience to a more casual audience that may have not thought of their drink as something that would be part of their daily lives. So when we brought up the ecosystem idea to this brand, we thought about how we can surround an audience in an organic way with multiple different touch points, being able to lean into ambassadors and micro influencers. To be able to lean into connected television. At the same time, we would also be promoting brand to brand collaborations. To be able to speak organically to audiences in social channels the same way that we would in store activations. We know that consumers want and expect to be advertised to, but they also want to be surprised and delighted by the brands that they choose to represent who they are in their lives, especially in the sports drink category that we're talking about here. Those are choices that put them in groups, put them in “tribes” so to speak, right? so being able to give them so many different natural touch points across any place that they're going to go during the day, they have no choice almost, but to start to love that brand because of the gentle way that you build that communication strategy around that customer-centric, not customer-targeted approach. Monica: I think also with the ecosystem model, it really helps create a one-to-one message. While we're targeting millions of people, possibly, in our audience-centric approach, or maybe 10,000, it can range, that person feels like they're talking to them, with them, and not at them. Ecosystems create more of this development of a tent-pole type of mentality. Instead of just pushing ads, say, buy now, buy now, buy now. It is truthfully a conversation that you're starting with that audience and how the values and the psychographics that they believe who they are. And that's why the ecosystem focuses on audience-centric, because we've listened to that audience. We listen to what they need, how they need it, what they see, what they don't see, what they really value in their personal lives, their professional lives, and even in their family lives. We engage with ecosystems in every aspect of that instead of focusing on one, which campaigns do. You're able to take a messaging map and really explore the person and the audience as a person and not just a demographic or a geo. It creates an organic conversation that’s meaningful and one-to-one, and feels more powerful than what campaigns can do these days. And while campaigns have all those aspects, it's the harmonization of the ecosystem, how everything is interconnected and intertwined really makes it so much more impactful. It’s how you can bring a total end-to-end solution for your client and create these pieces and touchpoints because you have the full identity. And I think like Ryan talked about, it’s like tribes or micro-target audiences, they're still connected in a holistic way. You might have 10 sub ecosystems within the garden, but your brand is one ecosystem, and you're offering that value to each of those audiences, and it just creates a better understanding and a value to your audience and what your brand can give them. Ryan: And to add to that, Monica, I think if you want to be a brand that engages a consumer group at a personal level, at a professional level, at a family level, that has to start with content today. There has to be an ongoing conversational feel to the messaging strategy that you have that's always changing slightly and always is different. That's going to be juxtaposed to the 30-second commercial, to that one big idea that gets slammed at a 150x frequency over five months. That doesn't happen in the ecosystem profile because those conversations will come from a lot of different places, from a lot of different voices to be able to be that surrounding organic discussion. It can be in your favorite publication, it can be from your favorite influencer. It can be from an ambassador that you strive to be like or it could be in forums from your neighbors in the UGC areas, right? It in fact has to have a lot of different voices. It can't come from one point of view. So you have to really be open, your brand has to be open to taking certain risks by having those different voices represent your brand. But then also having a really truly omnichannel strategy. Breaking down a lot of the barriers that agencies have put up too. This is in the PR bucket, this is in the media bucket, this is in the creative bucket. The ecosystem doesn't care which agency has traditionally handled that area. You have to move fluently through that. So I think that does have ramifications for how you would set up your marketing department. You need both specialists and generalists to be able to move quickly and with a lot of depth in certain channels and areas. But to be able to move between those areas and to still have a cohesive brand message, brand strategy to be able to leverage all of the different truly omnichannel touchpoints. There's probably 20 or 30 places where a well oiled, well fertilized garden is going to have 30 different plants that are going to come out of that. So I think a lot of times in this, with this garden metaphor, the plant has the channel basically. But today, you can't have a brand that's going to surround an audience without having strategies on a dozen different social channels, without having strategy on content publication partners, without having strategy for using traditional media. That still is very important and impactful to to many audiences. It has to be very holistic. Elise: So basically what you're all saying is thinking about a plant as a channel, it completely makes sense that all gardeners know sometimes some plants aren’t going live in the garden, right? You thought it was going to work on paper, it should work, it doesn't work, and you're going to have to be okay with plucking out that investment, right? And also going back to your idea, Ryan, of thinking about breaking down the silos between PR, paid media, creative production, all of that is going to be critical. And to me, that's why a lot of brands are seeing the challenges with those silos and wanting to move in-house, right? They're like, “I see the full ecosystem. I see the lay of the land.” And the best way to do that is to bring that in-house when really agencies, to be able to continue to showcase their value, are going have to figure out how to play with the other players in the space and be able to work in conjunction with the other partners to build a true ecosystem that's going to best serve the brands consumers. So to kind of wrap up this section, I'd like to ask each of you from your point of view of what you've done from an execution standpoint for brands, what are some of the key benefits of using an ecosystem in 2023? Monica: Yeah, I'll start here because I think while ecosystems are not a new thing, how we build them is a new thing. Like in advertising and marketing and communications, if you start with communications as a whole, it has been around for thousands of years. It ebbs and flows with changes - in how consumers perceive advertising these days, and how cookies are going away for digital marketers - all of these things are changing. And the ecosystem - while the aspects and the plants might change, because you have to rotate your crops to have better soil, to grow things - the heart of it and the ethos of it doesn't change because the brand value for the consumer and the target audiences that we’re targeting don't usually change. We're trying to grow and expand, but the heart of those is that. And so the beat of the heart and how we interchange and bring information and content and offer loyalty to these audiences is just really something that is required in today's marketing landscape. And we can't just bring in performance marketing, not until they have awareness. If I have a brand new product, I can't expect it to sell. I have to bring value to my customers. I have to let them make the choice. And I have maybe two seconds to get that audience to be engaged. But if I have other touchpoints that tell a story, but then also lay out an offer, and then I have a loyalty piece of that where I have engaged customers that are telling their story of what this brand offered them, you're going to build more of a holistic person and a and, and a customer. And so I think where I like the ecosystem, it maps everything out first, no matter what the budget, no matter what the channel it is, it talks about how to engage and converse with your audience and your consumer prior to any of the channel selection. Like we talk about, as a performance media agency, make sure you have a channel strategy and a measurement strategy. It's above and beyond that. It's a holistic view. It is the top level that ties your business objectives to your target audience and how you're going to execute. And it operationalizes all of these pieces. And then you can start saying, “okay, well this piece is not working well, I have these other pieces already engaged. How do I build upon the success of those?” And so, like with campaigns, I think that my final thing is with campaigns, you have to pivot and you pivot hard, very quickly. With ecosystems, you're already touching your audience, so you're not just pivoting away from one thing, you have other pieces already engaged. So then you just have to start optimizing in and out of those pieces instead of just a hardcore “I'm off for two weeks and now I've gotta turn back on.” It's already built and it's there. And it's going back to evergreen marketing. Evergreen marketing reformulated 2.0, 3.0 into the new marketing millennium of evergreen marketing in multiple different ways for that audience to find value. Ryan: Yeah, II agree with that. It's, it really is. Evergreen 3.0 is a great way to put it. And part of what's new about this approach then previous evergreen approaches is that we can pivot quickly. I do think ecosystems develop over time, but we have tools to be able to eradicate the weeds a lot quicker and faster than we have in the past. And in fact, I think that's almost a prerequisite of the modern ecosystem. Because there are still challenges that brands face that need to be addressed quickly. Performance marketing is actually a great mindset to have with an ecosystem approach. Because you have so many tools at your disposal, you're still taking a generalist mindset, but you're wanting to be able to react appropriately, but quickly and nimbly to be able to adjust to a changing landscape, to changing business pressures, et cetera. Even just today as we're recording this, the Wall Street Journal put an article out about how many CMOs are coming from performance marketing, because there is that pressure to get things done fast and quickly. But I think it takes a strong generalist mindset to be able to be a great performance marketer. And I think that maybe that's counterintuitive for a lot of people. But, when you break down all of the silos and have all of the messaging, comms strategy and every tool in the tool belt in front of you, you can make those specific quick changes and allow things to happen organically after you make that change. Because you can go to the next part of the garden, you can keep moving and still be able to optimize and to, and to be able to shift while still allowing time before that organic growth to happen. Elise: Great. Okay. So let's get into some Q&A that we got from listeners. Monica, I'd like to start off with you. So one person wanted to know: “This ecosystem idea sounds great in theory, but it also sounds like it might get very expensive very quickly and require a very robust system to actually roll out. So talk to me a little bit about, are ecosystems simply a tool for big brands that have massive budgets, or is there a way to begin to apply this for smaller brands that want to do marketing in an ideal way?” Monica: Yeah, it's a great question because you can start thinking about ecosystems and big ideas and like very lavish ideas, but in all reality, as a media strategist and a digital marketer and a comms strategist, you want all those ideas on the table because then you can identify which ones are going to make the most meaningful impact at that time to that audience. And then you can start assigning dollars to it. We love the term “scalable” in media, like we like that word all the time. We can buy in, we can buy up, we can buy down. But when you're in planning and you're listening to your audience and you're really doing your research, you want to have all the ideas on the table because dollar signs don't mean strategy. And so where these ecosystems break out those dollar signs and they really start thinking strategically of how to connect with your consumer. So when you get the ecosystem lined out with audiences who you want to engage, then you start prioritizing. Understanding which touchpoints and which channels and which collaborations would mean the most to that audience at that time. And then, as Ryan just pointed out, you have the ecosystem and so you can be nimble, you can be quick, you can change things a lot because you don't have to go re-strategize because you've already done the work. So yes, the upfront work is very holistic and very time not time consuming. It's rewarding because you're really evaluating your audience as a whole and blinding it out instead of saying, okay, I want performance media and that's all we focus on. But there might be a humongous opportunity with a robust content strategy that can influence that performance media portion of it to talk to your audience in different ways, to offer them different value, to offer them different offers that talk to them in a family mindset or a professional mindset. Soby approaching it this way, there might be a little bit more hard work up at the front but if you give yourself enough time to lay it all out, then you can start understanding the value that you need to associate with the every touchpoint, and then also the the dollars and prioritizing it that way, and then showing your option B, C, and D from there. Ryan: Yeah, a lot of the hard work and strategy happens in the winter, doesn't it, in those planning months. And if you really do well, then the farmer can get into spring and be ready to go and be able to know exactly what they're going to plant and be able to move forward, Elise: Right? It's almost like you are trying to create the ideal toolbox. You are creating your shopping, you know everything that you could potentially need for a project. Realistically, I only have $20 in my billfold, so what can I get from my billfold at this point in time to be able to do the most amount of work at this point and then be able to invest more in the future? That completely makes sense. Monica: If you spend the $20, you're hoping to get $20 plus some back in returns so you can engage the other pieces, right? So, it starts to just really prioritizeROI and how you're going to engage your audiences to get that. But it really lines and gets the toolbox out. And it really helps you, like as a full perspective marketer of the audience. Elise: Right. So then, Ryan, talk to me about what are some of your perceived biggest challenges of creating and then subsequently working with an ecosystem from a marketer's perspective? Ryan: The biggest challenge is probably the time that it takes to really develop an organic voice to an audience in all the different channels that we're talking about. That's something that doesn't happen overnight, but the pressure of CMOs today is to make things happen quickly and overnight. So measurement really does become really key.This may be counterintuitive too, but I don't think an attribution approach works in an ecosystem. I think you have to look at the, the whole of your harvest of the garden and be able to compare how you did from last year while still being able to know and predict which plants need tending to and be able to be active, right? Modern CMOs need to be very sophisticated on what their business objectives are and what levers they can actually pull immediately to create business effect and which ones they can't pull and need to allow time to to develop. So that, I think you need to maybe not do performance marketing, but definitely to take a performance mindset to all of the parts of your marketing ecosystem. You need to be able to know, to measure what matters to each of those, and know when statistics statistical significance actually happens, to be able to make sure that you're not over optimizing a campaign to make sure that you're not over optimizing a channel to make sure that you are able to go back to your other c-suite executives and to the board of directors and give them something that you did over the last quarter that made change while not disrupting what's happening organically. That longer term relationship that you're developing with a new audience and not becoming too heavy handed where you turn into this old school campaign mentality that ends up breaking what you've built. It's a very fine line, it's very challenging to develop, and it's going to be different for every brand. You don't want to take a cookie cutter reproach because this other CPG brand that has a billion dollars of advertising budget may not work for Mom an Pop Shop, may not work for national brands. You have to really have a keen understanding of what you're able to do, who your audience is, and what that short-, medium-, and long-term goals are to make sure that you keep your job, but that you also don't jeopardize what's what's being built underneath the surface, the foundation of that garden. Elise: So then one thing you noted, Ryan, that I want to call out is you mentioned not over optimizing a channel and just to make sure that our listeners are fully interpreting that, I think you're saying that the kind of quick gut reaction moves is what you're talking about. Over optimizing, because it's not producing ROI today when it could produce ROI in two weeks, right? It's the long game is what you're, you're speaking to. Ryan: Yeah, we're a performance media agency. We get clients that want to turn off campaigns after two weeks that have spent $1,200, but have only gotten two sales attributed to it. That mindset's not going to work in an ecosystem mentality. With that ethos, you're going to have to let - not just one channel, but a group of channels - work together to reinforce each other, to get people from just being aware that your project exists to being able to take action. Even if it's something with a short sales cycle, you still need to be able to give enough oxygen and give enough time for roots to take hold and to be able to see signs of life. It doesn't happen in two weeks. It doesn't happen in two months a lot of the time. Now there's other areas where you may know pretty quickly if something's not working that you may be able to cut bait a little bit quicker there. But a lot of the time, you need to have patience. And I think the key is knowing when to have appropriate patience and when to be quick and nimble and flexible and be able to move forward. And that depends on your goals, the audience and the channels that you're selecting to find that right mix. Elise: So then you talk a lot about patience, and I think it seems based on this conversation that a lot of that patience has to happen in the upfront with the research portion. So Monica, I'd love to hear from you during that upfront when you're trying to figure out “where do I start with the ecosystem,” what's the first step you would recommend a brand take to start this process? Monica: My recommendation is research, research and then a little bit more research because there is a wealth of information out there. In social media listening tools for example. We are in a society where people put their lives out on social media and their perspectives and opinions and reviews of products etc. And the rise of influencer marketing really has shown that peer-to-peer conversation is very valuable in everybody's daily lives. And we can, as marketers and as communications experts, we can take that information and start learning and applying beyond the demographic. And I know beyond the demographic is, it is an old school type of thinking, but people still think a person is 18+. So, how can we really utilize all of those social monitoring and listening tools, but then also consumer panels and market research. You have to invest in understanding your target audience first, so then you know what value that you're going to exchange with them. What content will resonate with them. So really taking time to do consumer analysis and understand them, I think I said this before, it’s not understanding one aspect of their life. You want to understand them in multiple different dynamics because when they're at home with kids in front of the tv, they change into a different dynamic, but you still can reach them at that point because they're still your target audience. But what value, what content exchange do you want to offer them at that time when they're at work or when they're working out? Is it a different type of perspective or content messaging that we can offer them? Invest in those research tools so you can help monitor how that audience grows. When you're a new mom and then you start having multiple kids, you start changing. So we have to continue to adapt the audience learnings, noticing how they change and how their sentiment changes as they start moving through hopefully our funnel, but also their life.They do change. And so we have to consider how those ethos and messaging strategies change. And truthfully, just having your ear to the ground and having marketers like us that are curious. You have to be curious about your target audience because they're curious about your products. So we have to exchange that and ask questions. Like, if they have one kid, they like this, if they have two kids, they have this. Do they like gardening? Do they like this? Put yourself in the conversation to understand who that audience is. And if we do that as marketers, as we do it here at Coegi, we become a part of the ecosystem because we understand them more and we can start understanding which pieces that we can start playing and prioritizing to reach the audiences in multiple different ways. Elise: Great. Well, thank you both for a really great conversation. I think it's critical to be able to think about the long term for brands, right? Not just the quick wins that may look great for ROI but are not driving any sort of incremental growth. So I'm sure we'll be talking more about the ecosystem in the future, but thanks for your contributions today. Monica: Yeah, thanks for having us. Ryan: Thanks Elise. Elise: Thank you for listening. Coegi is an industry leading performance marketing agency based in the Midwest. We've learned a lot since our founding in 2014 and started the Loop Marketing podcast to share some of our hot takes on marketing trends we're following, best practices we've discovered, and actionable tips for improving your digital strategy. We'll see you next time.

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