CMO Spotlight: “Get to the Future First”, says Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever

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“Get to the Future First”, says Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever“It used to be that big eats small. But now it’s a world where fast eats slow. What’s important is that we get to the future first.”

The comment comes from global CPG giant, Unilever’s CMO, Keith Weed. His comment is in the context of sustainability and social purpose becoming a factor that all major brands are now touting in order to enhance their reputation and status. Consumers are seeing and hearing more and more marketing messages pinned on the banner of corporate social responsibility and environment-friendly initiatives.

That’s wonderful—we can all hope to live in a better world—there’s no denying the universal benefits of that. From a marketer’s standpoint, however, the impetus to drive change has to increase significantly. Not just in the pace of change but also with regard to the specific changes being implemented. It’s not enough to remain at the thresholds of sustainability and social purposes; you have to go beyond to set precedence for new and transformational changes that have far-reaching impact on the communities your brands serve. Most importantly, you have to do this faster and better than your competition, because, as is apparent, every major brand is doing it in one way or another.

In the world of B2B lead generation, as we have been saying, it’s all about finding new ways to connect with your audience and build engagement. If your brand has taken on the challenges of running a sustainable operation, striving to reduce your carbon footprint, improve socio-economic conditions, and other social purposes, then it is time for your lead generation campaigns to step up and align with these messages. That is what your audience needs to see—a strong brand promise that goes above and beyond selling a product or service to truly serving the communities it touches.

What is the advantage of bringing marketing, lead generation, sustainability and social responsibility under the umbrella of the parent brand? Greater respect and trust in the brand. Unilever has a thousand plus brands used by some 2 billion or more people daily, around the world. Having spent $7.6 billion in 2014 on brand marketing, Keith Weed is now spearheading a corporate campaign to make the Unilever name as well known as its many brands. The company’s U logo is being promoted on all its products and marketing initiatives to convey a “trust mark of sustainability”. According to Weed, it is “a way of telling consumers that any product with the U is the right choice for the planet.”

Stop Marketing TO People…Start Marketing WITH People

Stop #marketing TO people….stop marketing WITH people – Louis Foong Click To Tweet

With the rising awareness among marketers that you need to study buyer behaviour and personalize your offering, there is also chaos and confusion about how to go about doing this. Keith Weed says there is a way to bring order to this chaos—you have to stop marketing to people and start marketing with people. For this, you need to do these 3 things:

  1. Put People (not consumers) First
  2. Create Brand Love
  3. Unlock the Magic

Weed gives examples of how Unilever is “creating brands for life” by adhering to these 3 marketing pillars.

Watch this video to see how Unilever puts people first—by providing mobile content and entertainment in one of India’s most “media dark” region of Bihar.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches was a campaign to build brand love. It soon fueled a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty. The campaign connected at a deep emotional level with millions of women who recognize that the biggest beauty pressure is the one they put on themselves. Telling every woman, “You are more beautiful than you think” sparked brand love that will definitely have a long-lasting impact.

Citing how Unilever worked to “unlock the magic”, Weed talks about the Axe “Make Love Not War” campaign that started with a Super Bowl TV ad but gathered huge momentum on Twitter. Using the hashtag #KissForPeace, fans were invited to Tweet selfies of themselves kissing another person and have those pictures posted in Times Square. A whole new twist on cupid’s magic!

As a hugely successful brand, and one that we would traditionally classify as B2C, what can B2B organizations learn from Unilever? If there is one, single most important lesson, I would say it is the one about Marketing with People. Here is a refresher: Your Buyers Are Not Businesses, They Are People— the B2B Buyer is now A Myth…

How is your brand connecting with your audience? What initiatives are focused on building brand love? I would love to hear from you on my blog. Leave me a comment. You can also sign up for email updates.

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