Marketers Need To Up AI Game: Q&A With Mercer's Hope Frank

I never cease to be amazed by the sheer number of enormously smart and highly passionate business leaders I’ve been able to meet.

You can add Hope Frank to that list. Without question one of the brightest minds in marketing today, Hope currently serves as the Global Experience Officer for global consulting firm Mercer. 

Her list of accomplishments is impressive, including being named a Top 50 CMO by Forbes. She also sat on the Board of Advisors for the CMO Council and is a founding member The CMO Club.

I recently had the chance to catch up with Hope. Wanted to pick her brain on not just what she sees coming down the road in 2019 -- oh yeah, she’s also a futurist -- I also wanted to get her take on other topics including two very near and dear to every CMO: customer experience and CMO tenure. 



Q: How would you define the state of marketing overall right now as we head into 2019? 

A: Tech and always-on mobility changed everything. Customers demand more from brands 24/7. This digital advancement forced change in the way businesses run, which in turn transformed culture.  

Meritocracy, speed-to-scale and purpose driven ideation is today’s sea change. I love it, so refreshing.  In fact, I wish purpose-infused-tactics and Gen Z had arrived sooner. 

Q: Any predictions for 2019 and beyond as they relate to marketing?  

A: I am fascinated by predictive AI and the impact on the marketing practice. In today’s digital market, consumers have developed sky-high expectations for a personalized mobile experience. 

Marketers need to up their game, improve interactions and deliver on these expectations, or risk losing leads to the competition. AI technology enables marketers to separate their customers into distinct personas and understand what and who motivates them. 

Q: In your experience, what challenges do marketers face when supporting a brand expansion or reinvention? 

A: Breaking into a new market can be a tough nut to crack. You’re dealing with a target audience that may not have much, if any brand awareness. 

It all circles back to your company’s core beliefs. You want to showcase something they’ve never seen. You want to make sure it embraces the local flavor, yet central tenets of the brand need to shine through loud and clear. 

At Mercer, we lean on our core brand principles to advance the health, wealth and career of clients’ greatest assets: their people. We know what they mean to us, therefore those brand values transcend any language barrier or distance. 

They authentically lead [our ad] campaign[s] on their own – with the help of drop-dead gorgeous creative from our design teams, certainly.

Q: Mercer has recently started to make waves in Asia and Latin America. What’s the reasoning behind that brand push?

A: The world continues to spin forward rapidly, perhaps faster than we realize. Mercer views these emerging markets as growth markets and a powerful part of the future of our global economy. We didn’t want to sit back on our heels; we wanted to fly forward.

Q: Customer Experience (CX) is at or near the top of every marketer’s priority list. From a professional standpoint, how do you define CX—  but also work to ensure the most optimal CX is delivered every time across every interaction/channel? 

A: It’s quality and loyalty. For CX quality it is the effectiveness, experience delivers value to the customer….

How it is delivered is part art and part science. It takes a rich set of CX measures to gain a view of how customers perceive and feel about their experiences. This includes a unique view of emotion to aid you in assessing future loyalty and growth. Industry benchmarks to determine if you are differentiated, on par or behind your competitors. Lastly, revenue modeling to quantitatively determine likely revenue payoffs by improving specific experiences. 

I like Forrester CX Industry and regional rankings. I find their framework worthy of consideration.

Q: From a personal perspective, what do you as a consumer look for/notice when it comes to CX? Why do so many brands continue to struggle with CX?   

A: Brands struggle because they are hyper-focused on operational matters and not enough on the emotional impact they are delivering. Consistent execution married to emotional accuracy is critical, and some brands get it and celebrate it as a core value throughout the creative process. 

Q: Why do you think a CMO’s tenure is so much shorter than for  the rest of the C-suite?   

The CMO role has evolved and expanded. Today’s CMO must be a facilitator for growth for the business. Although the CMO may not be an expert practitioner or strategist in all fourmarketing practices -- brand, product marketing data & analytics and sales enablement -- he still needs to lead all practices effectively.  

To thrive as a modern CMO, he must bring or build an effective team quickly.  The eye-opener for most CMOs I speak with: The reason we were hired (for example, ignite the brand, increase qualified leads, integrate marketing tech stack) may not be the task we are given a week or year later.  

Today’s CMO needs to be courageous, pivot to survive and optimize resources at the speed of light.  

World-class leadership is the elixir for 2019.  Be fearless. Be legendary. Spin the world forward.

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