What I Want Marketers to Know: Brent Turner, SVP, Marketing Strategy & Technology at Cramer

By Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys


The following are select quotes pulled from the original piece.

When experiential marketing maven Brent Turner joined the Marketer + Machine podcast, I talked with him about how to bring emotion to the forefront of your marketing — whether that’s through events, through your technology, or in your content. Relationships, as Brent discussed, are everything.

Now he’s sharing what he wants you to know about experiences, how they intertwine with experiential, and where to focus your energy for maximum impact.

Location: Boston, MA

Current Role: SVP Marketing Strategy and Technology, at Cramer, a global brand experience agency

One word that best describes how you view the state of marketing today: Rebasing (a wonky word, inspired by my continually slow learning of Git)

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

My career as an early member of technology startups (two of which IPO’d, the third I co-founded and we successfully sold). Having become accustomed to (or, really, addicted to), the pace of emerging tech and startups, I then grew as an executive through leaderships roles inside top advertising agencies and as the chief digital officer inside MIT.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen firsthand how marketing and technology have continued to become more experiential. So, when a leadership opportunity to join a prestigious event and experiential agency arose—Cramer—I quickly jumped on it. Been here for four years of growth, evolution, and fun.

What do you wish marketers knew (but you’re pretty sure they don’t)?

This series of interviews has covered the major themes — from strategic (like Daniel Incandela’s answer) to philosophical (like Michael Brenner’s answer) — with strong insight across the board. So, going tactical and off-theme, my two cents:

Editorial Design. From typography selection to story layout to art and on, there are rules and frameworks that guide editorial design. These foundational elements are built on decades of evolution and human behavior realities.

Audience Content Consumption. Marketers from all industries working on any media type would benefit from expanding their knowledge of how their audiences experience content. Inside their own documents (like that PowerPoint presentation they need to present to their teams) and for the collateral their teams are working on (like campaigns, websites, brochures, packaging) this baseline training should be required for all marketers.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by marketers today?

The big business drivers around marketing — the rise of holistic business focus on customer experience, boards for “digital transformation” — are colliding with changes within marketing — sales and marketing teams aligning on account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, the continued expansion of the marketing technology landscape — and, together, are requiring a new normal for marketing organizations.

This is the “rebasing” noted above.

Today, the definition of success for “marketing” is, for most modern-leaning organizations, a collaborative, mirrored definition of success for an organization’s technology, product, and customer service teams.

How can they overcome this challenge?

Across the portfolio of clients that my teams and I serve — brands like IBM, UPS, Siemens, and more — the brands that are having the most success share a commonality: their marketing teams now have formal and informal leadership over the direction of technology, product, customer service, and sales.

And, even at the largest companies, this evolving role for marketing’s leadership and influence was not “declared from above.” The businesses overcoming these challenges have progressive, action-oriented marketing teams proactively rallying teams and driving change.

If you could tell all marketers just one thing, what would it be?

Invest in event and experiential marketing.

Ads and apps need ambassadors carrying their stories.

Sales forces and customer success teams need peer communities validating their successes.

More than ever, marketers need to get beyond screens and in front of people. “Live” is where buzzwords-become-realities — where terms like authenticity, transparency, and purpose are demonstrated and customer cultures are born.

Technology has already transformed marketing in so many ways. How do you see tech continuing to revolutionize the marketer’s role?

While generative AI and blockchain are replacing mobile-first and content marketing as the du jour buzzwords, the hottest marketing frontier is now in experiential. This is reinforced in strategy changes, as noted above and in the books recommended below, and in technology changes.

The biggest things happening in digital right now are the rise of new realities (e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality, the expansion of physical/digital (e.g., wearables, IoT), and the realization of personalization (e.g., facial recognition, networking).

What are you currently reading, or what would you recommend for marketers?

Three books that I’ve recently read and remain front-and-center in my office:

  • Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, by Robert Rose and Carla Johnson
  • The Power of Moments, by Dan and Chip Heath
  • Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions, by Carmen Simon, PhD

And, of course, I have to plug our own newsletters. We now serve over 100,000 subscribers the latest trends, original insights, and curated news from the world event and experiential marketing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to marketers?

Here’s my take on future-casting. In 2018, we see the hot technology-driven trends to be facial recognition, blockchain, live augmented reality, and robots. Looking out to 2019, I believe the hottest items interesting marketers will be gaze-based interfaces and generative AI. ◾

Big thanks to Brent Turner for joining us and sharing what he wants marketers to know. Be sure to listen to Brent’s Marketer + Machine podcast interview for more of his insights.

by Emarsys

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Brent is a member of the executive team for Opus Agency, partner to world-shaping brands.
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