Julie Roehm on Transformational Marketing

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With a career spanning executive roles at global giants like DaimlerChrysler, SAP, and Party City, Julie Roehm has consistently been at the forefront of marketing innovation and strategic transformation. Roehm began her career at the start of the Internet age, and she defined it by leading several digital transformations and becoming an evangelist for customer-centric marketing.

And the industry more than recognizes her achievements. Julie Roehm is a recipient of the Marketer of the Year award from BrandWeek, was included in Brand Innovators’ Top 50 Women in Brand Marketing, and was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Today, amid pandemics, war, inflation, and supply chain chaos, marketing and C-suite management in general are in dire need of an overhaul. Julie Roehm is one of the few executives today who not only acknowledges the necessity for change, but has also engineered several successful transformations.

Julie Roehm: Customer Experience Comes First

Roehm places customer experience at the heart of modern marketing. She even believes that CX should extend beyond the sphere of marketing, defining the scope and aims of a company as a whole. Her theory is well supported by the growing popularity of the CXO role, one which Roehm has held multiple times and helped define.

“I like to take that innovation and curiosity even in my own practice,” Julie Roehm shared on the podcast “Power Marketing With Kevin Lee.”

“So while I started out as a traditional sort of chief marketing officer in all the things that people tend to think of as CMO, over the past years I’ve expanded it to add the CXO title, the chief experience officer.

“It’s the guiding principle that you think about. What is your customer’s experience, what do you want their experience to be, what are the goals? And then you use that insight and information to then plug into certainly traditional marketing efforts. If there’s a physical experience, if there’s a digital experience, you take all of that, and how do you plug that in? And so you use your marketing and your technical and your operational acumen to be able to execute. They’re obviously all with partners in each of those realms, but that’s why I tend to think about experience first, and then all the marketing components certainly underpin that.”

Managing CX in marketing expands on the concept of measuring customer satisfaction. According to Roehm, it emphasizes that customer satisfaction isn’t just a metric but an ongoing commitment to personalization and understanding individual customer needs.

In today’s digital landscape, customer expectations change rapidly. Meeting customer needs — and growing with them as they change — can’t be the isolated aim of just one department.

Roehm advises firms to add a CXO to their C-suite and begin the transformational process of aligning departments around delivering stellar experiences across channels.

As CXO at Party City, Roehm did exactly this when she helped the company transform from a stock-keeping unit-based sales model to an experience-based one. As a part of this transformation, she aligned human resources, customer support, marketing, and even IT to guarantee exceptional customer experiences at every point of contact.

Identifying Transformational Opportunities

Transformational marketing often involves long-term change, but marketers can score wins in the short term, too. According to Roehm, identifying and leveraging low-hanging fruit in change initiatives is a key strategy. Even without a CXO on board, marketers should search for opportunities outside the bounds of their departments to improve customer experiences.

As a CMO, Julie Roehm was rarely confined to the role of marketer. She sought to understand the contributions of every department to develop customer-centric initiatives. At Party City, she did this by working with IT to design a new balloon arrangement creation tool. This quick change streamlined the customer’s digital journey, helping Party City increase balloon sales by double digits.

Roehm encourages marketers to engage in cross-departmental collaboration to pinpoint areas ripe for improvement. This is how to achieve transformational goals one step — and one win — at a time.

A New World in Marketing

The most talked-about transformation right now doesn’t just apply to marketing. Artificial intelligence is changing almost every aspect of business, from manufacturing to IT to customer support.

Roehm spoke briefly about how AI content generation is affecting marketers. She noted that AI-generated content tools, especially emerging animation software that can generate video content in seconds, are revolutionizing the way marketers create content. However, she warns that the ease of content production may have consequences. For example, some marketers may overwhelm customers with content or lose focus on strategy.

“That’s a little bit of where I’m kind of excited about AI, which is getting closer to consumer motivation at a given time,” she said on the podcast. “And maybe that starts to lock in to sort of where people are.”

She reminds marketers to focus on aligning content with strategic goals. When it comes to creating impactful content, less can sometimes be more. It’s also important to remember that AI content tools are unaware of the customer’s experience or the marketer’s intent. Human input is crucial.

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