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My Favorites of September: Habit-forming companies, Feel-good capitalism & Airbnb’s marketing platform

2 October 2017

unilever soap illustration bloomberg

Just 5 articles for September, all about corporate and/or marketing strategy. The two former are generally about the role of marketing in tech companies, which is my job, and the three latter are (almost) case studies about GE, Unilever and Airbnb. These reads are great to take a step back and reflect on long-term vision rather than the daily stuff. It also gives a hint of others’ challenges, how they address(ed) them, which in turn helps you be committed to your own.

To the question “What are different job titles for digital marketers?” on Quora, only 8 answers have been submitted. Despite the little interest to this simple yet interesting question, this Forbes article (note: this is a sponsored article… by Quora, which is why the site is modestly described as “the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world“) shares one of the answers’ content, contributed by a marketer and angel investor. Despite the fact that it’s a promotional article on a heavily ad-loaded website, the content is interesting for anyone interested in the variety of marketing jobs in tech companies.

Nir Eyal, blogger and author of the book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” writes this cool post about how tech companies hook users to their platforms, websites and functionalities. “A company that forms strong user habits [creates] associations with “internal triggers” in users’ minds. That is to say, users come to the site without any external prompting. Instead of relying on expensive marketing or worrying about differentiation, habit-forming companies get users to cue themselves to action by attaching their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions.” Another great read for any tech company marketer, although it doesn’t mean everyone should rush into ‘hooking’ users.

Take some time to read through this series of Immelt’s HBR articles, because it gives some great advice about transformation and leadership. You don’t have to head a conglomerate or an empire to understand what he’s talking about, and to young aspiring leaders like me it’s very useful! Excerpt: “Even before becoming CEO, I believed that [GE] couldn’t simultaneously be good at media, pet insurance, and making jet engines. We had come out of an era when many at GE believed that a good manager could manage anything. I didn’t buy that. I thought that companies—and business leaders—were good at certain things.

A propos corporate strategy, this piece by Bloomberg (and this one by The Economist, which happened to appear the very same day) discusses Unilever’s mission to bring together shareholder value and sustainability, two terms that have always been disconnected in the last decades: “Under CEO Paul Polman, Unilever is seeking to espouse a trendy sentiment—that it’s possible to make more money by acting virtuously—on a global stage. […] The initiatives are tied together by two arguments. First, that ethically discerning shoppers in the developed world [are] willing to pay a premium for products that do less harm to the planet [and second] that encouraging health and happiness in emerging markets will turn millions of the global poor into consumers.

Jonathan Mildenhall, former CMO at Coca-Cola at now in the same role at Airbnb, knows how to market himself (and his function) – which is not to be taken as criticism. I previously shared a study about the value of advertising for tech companies, now here’s an article in which he “storytells” how the brand’s marketing platform “Live there” was conceived and executed. You’ll find lots of insights about… strategic insights, the competitive landscape of Airbnb, the role of a CMO and the difficulty of establishing a globally relevant brand message.

Thanks for reading!

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