Christina Petrova, Author at General Assembly Blog

Webinar Recap: Marketing Skills for a Post-COVID-19 Era

By

Everything — including the way marketers used data — came to a halt when the pandemic hit. Given that all data builds upon the past, many companies found that what worked in 2019 suddenly became irrelevant in 2020 — a quick and jarring pivot.  

The effectiveness of marketing is measured by the consumer behavior it’s designed to predict. What can marketers do to meet the challenge of consumer behaviors that have changed due to COVID-19 and wider shifts in cultural psychology?

In an hour-long, intensely detailed, and conversational webinar, Matt Tumbleson, brand director for P&G Ventures and GA marketing instructor, sat down to talk post-COVID marketing strategies with Ben Harrell, CMO for Priceline; Philip Markmann, CMO for L’Oréal; Salim Holder, Co-founder + CEO of 4th Avenue Market and GA instructor; Rebekah Rose, director, P&G Ventures; and Rory Sutherland, vice chairman at Ogilvy UK. 

Three Things We Learned

Changes in consumer behavior necessitate changes in how we think about marketing strategy. This expert-driven webinar encouraged marketers to rethink their approach in three key ways: 

1. Data doesn’t drive everything.

Marketing strategists have increasingly found themselves taking a back seat to big data. This is not to say that data-driven marketing strategies have no value, but COVID-19 caused many businesses to flounder as the data they relied on was no longer as informative and impactful as it had once been. 

All told, what became expected consumer behavior morphed in a way that was not effectively predicted by marketing data; there was no precedent in the data most businesses were leveraging to address the psychological and emotional impact that a global pandemic would have on how consumers spend.

2. Marketing must be future-focused, not past-focused.

An ever-present consequence of data is that it’s reactive and not proactive. Ben Harrell sums this succinctly: “What worked yesterday won’t work today. What worked today won’t necessarily work tomorrow.” Never has that been more true in a post-COVID-19 era, when many consumers have altered not just how they shop, but why they shop and where they shop. Many are questioning whether they need a product at all and opting instead to purchase products or services that deliver deeper meaning or enhance their connections to other people. 

Sutherland importantly notes that “People don’t buy what something is; they buy what it means”.

3. Engage relationally, not transactionally.

Marketers must keep pace with changing customer profiles. Consumers saturate the internet, but COVID-19 accelerated already prolific online activity. As Sutherland explained in an intriguing keynote speech, “Understanding consumers’ wants, needs, motivations, and fears has become much more important following COVID-19.”

This is hardly more visual than with Gen Z, which is distinctly digital-native and cause-driven. Marketing challenges change with every generation, and companies must adapt to how upcoming generations effectively respond to marketing, but Gen Z has proven to upend many cultural marketing expectations. It’s a generation that values an emotional, authentic approach and is quick to flee from companies too heavily focused on the traditional transactional method. If Gen Z is an indication of a longer-lasting trend, marketers really must be quick to adapt.

On to the next. And next…

As Salim Holder of 4th Avenue Marketing pointedly asks in the webinar, “Do we know our consumers as well as we think we do?” This question helps define big ideas you’ll experience in this engaging webinar filled with actionable insights from a panel of marketing experts. Watch the entire webinar here.

Want to learn more about how General Assembly can help you unlock marketing skills for a post-COVID era? Get in touch.

Webinar Recap: Demystifying Big Data & AI

By

AI is a powerful tool that can help businesses achieve monumental success. For the last few years, AI has been inaccurately depicted as a tool that will steal jobs from humans. The media, movies, and more have consistently created a false image of AI, what the technology is capable of, and what it means for businesses and society. Truthfully, it’s the people behind AI that determine the outcomes of its use  — not the technology itself.

Gonzague Dromard, our head of France, sat down with the co-founder of Siri and Renault chief scientific officer, Luc Julia, for a webinar discussion on demystifying AI and the big data that makes AI function. Here are the top three things we learned from that discussion.

Essentials To Know 

AI is more than just a buzzword and less than the harbinger of the next tech-driven apocalypse. Instead, AI is a tool with the enormous potential to uplift industries and workers worldwide. Yes, this is daunting — but, no, this does not make AI dangerous.

1. AI’s Framework: It’s Older Than You Might Think 

Although AI may seem to be a modern invention or trend, the groundwork has existed for decades. Artificial intelligence and big data are built around maximizing the efficiency of repetitive processes. Leaning into his new role at Renault, Julia highlighted how the car industry has been using automation for decades, starting in the 1960s with the introduction of industrial robots capable of simple tasks like spot welding. Lan Turing’s landmark paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” was published in 1950, giving us decades to properly define, create, and deploy early concepts of AI.

Although not as “smart” as some might expect, AI, at its fundamental level, is a repeatable set of rules that a machine follows — an instructional map, but certainly not the driver.

2. AI Does Not Destroy Jobs — It Accelerates Them in New Areas

Among the biggest questions that stymie wider acceptance of AI is whether the technology will replace human workers, destroying the livelihoods of millions of people. Dromard and Julia spent a significant portion of the webinar dismantling this misconception by underlining these AI truths:

  1. There are multiple levels to artificial intelligence. If it becomes possible, we are far from a future where AI will completely replace human workers in most industries since AI relies on repetition — and the world at large is dynamic, not static.
  2. Organizations must be proactive and introspective by identifying where efficiencies could exist and how AI can be used. 
  3. Companies thrive and innovate best when existing teams — with diverse backgrounds and experiences — are trained to use big data and AI.

When applied properly, AI creates entirely new industries and provides existing workers the chance to reskill while working alongside AI systems that make less enjoyable, routine tasks easier to accomplish. Since these tasks don’t change, the big data backing them can perform those tasks more quickly and efficiently than human workers. 

3. AI Programmers Must Counter Personal Biases 

News-making examples of bias within AI systems, such as facial recognition technology and hiring algorithms, have raised legitimate questions about whether AI will always be applied ethically. Dromard and Julia also took on this challenging question with strategies for how to ensure that the big data working in the background mitigates the risk of bias in AI systems:

“If we see that people can use it the wrong way, we have the responsibility to raise the flag. Data can be biased because the people designing and creating the data can be biased.” 

As AI integrates more into daily life, data ethics has become imperative to ensure AI does not harm societal equity.

Take the Next Progressive Step With Big Data & AI

As Julia noted in our webinar, “AI is a tool. We have the hammer.” In other words, if you give that hammer to the right person, innovation will happen. Not all workers will know how to use the tool right away or in the right way, but dedicated and ongoing training can create lasting relevancy for businesses and build loyalty among workers.

Bottom line, people are only innovative if they’re trained with intention. When your teams bring their existing skills to the table — and merge that with newly acquired knowledge — real innovation happens. Watch the full webinar here

Want to learn more about how GA can help you build a data-driven team? Get in touch.