Marketers need to start conversations around human truth, not strategy, says The Iconic’s CMO

Marketers should be focusing on storytelling and understanding human truth rather than directing their discussions around strategy, media channels and digital, The Iconic’s chief marketing officer, Alexander Meyer, has said.

The marketing boss told an audience at Mumbrella’s Retail Marketing Summit it was the responsibility of marketers to direct conversations towards what the customer wants.

Meyer said marketers should be storytellers

“At the end of the day as marketers we are storytellers and if we understand and allow ourselves to enter that concept a lot more, we will actually be reshaping this planet at times when politics is not doing that,” Meyer said.

“It’s almost our responsibility to make sure that the conversation goes in the right direction.”

While technology has been an enabler of “connectivity”, and “shared intentionality”, Meyer believes brands need to focus on the power of story, if they are to succeed.

“The discourse that we are leading as marketers is sometimes the wrong one because we shouldn’t discuss whether it’s a strategy, whether it’s a channel, whether it’s digital, the actual conversation we should have is how do we centre the human heart, the human truth of the story at the cornerstone of all of it?” he added.

Meyer went on to say he doesn’t start his marketing efforts with ‘competitive analysis’, but focuses on who the brand is and what it stands for.

“We are in a situation where you don’t need to always start with a strategy because sometimes if you test a trend, it will be so surprisingly successful with you, that it will inform your strategy moving forward,” he said.

“Sometimes from a channel point of view, certain executions that let you tap into something, like us with the Swim Show, allow us to inform our strategy as a whole. Sometimes data points will give you an insight that will ultimately change the way your business functions.”

The Iconic: Not the first to new marketing trends

The Swim Show was an initiative which ran last year, that saw models of various genders, sizes and ethnicities walk down a runaway. It created a large buzz around diversity in the Australian modelling industry.

“When you tackle trends and test them, when you work on channels, when you develop your strategy, when you utilise data, make sure that you find the story and the human truth within it and always put at the forefront of it, your customer as a human,” Meyer said.

Meyer also told the audience the company does not try to be the first with a new marketing trend, arguing “customer demand” will inform how technology evolves.

“It is not us deciding we need to do AR or VR and AI and put all these things in place to be some of the first, we need to put these things in place when the customer needs us to do that to ultimately solve a problem.”

The Iconic’s marketing team also does not have a dedicated brand communications arm. Meyer said it’s not needed as everything the marketing team does ‘is the brand’.

“We all are the brand, because we do the brand, because what it is that we do, the features we launch, the things we learn, the things we ultimately say about what we do, that is the brand. That’s why we also decided not to have a dedicated brand team but look at the different functionalities in the marketing world from the angle of coming together as a cross functional team,” he said.

But with shareholders and stakeholders often expecting short-term results, retailers struggle to implement a long-term brand strategy. For Meyer, that is “probably the biggest dilemma” in the retail space.

Meyer said overhead and operational costs in retail force marketers to look at numbers every single day, making it easy to fall into the trap of a “tactical” focus.

“The most important point is that we have to be able to dare and allow ourselves to also get on that long-term journey simultaneously, while focusing on short-term results,” Meyer told Mumbrella.

“It’s always easy to play safe and talk about things that you’ve already locked in.

“From my perspective, short-term goals and long-term development are two parallel processes that can go hand-in-hand together, but you have to walk in baby steps, you have to take the steps, you have to just do it and actually infuse your business with the power of story, the human truth, and trying to connect the dots,” he said.

“The best tool to bring this long-term reality to life, whilst also looking at the short term, is find metrics and processes that put the customer at the heart of everything. Dare to have one key metric in the business, that is a customer focus metric, independent of any shareholder or stakeholder KPI that is put into use.”


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