An Introduction to Marketing Orchestration

April 23, 2018 Kalev Peekna

Over the past ten years, “digital strategy” has meant assembling an ever-expanding range of tactics. B2B marketers now average active use of 13 tactics, of which 12 are inherently digital. One of the top transformational problems in marketing has become no longer “how to be digital,” but rather “how do I bring it all together to create a digital marketing experience that best represents my service or organization?”

Marketing Orchestration is an approach that focuses not on delivering standalone campaigns, but on optimizing a set of related cross-channel interactions that, when added together, make up a personalized customer experience. Contrary to what “best practice” dictates, orchestration isn’t a matter of adopting more tactics.

If you’ve ever experienced Mozart’s Don Giovanni, you can appreciate the power of a well-orchestrated performance. Full instrumentation, modulated dynamics and dramatic lyrical structures in this masterwork classic bring the story to life for audiences in a tremendously impactful way.

To achieve a well-orchestrated experience, I suggest markets explore the elements that composers and conductors use in their performances. Here are five elements of orchestration and an explanation of how they can be applied to marketing experiences.

5 Elements of Orchestration

Score Is Your Brand
Brand represents the core of your marketing activities. In both music and marketing, the score is the guide and unifying force pulling every action into a coherent experience. Digital hasn’t changed the concept of brand, but it has changed brand strategy and activation, primarily through natively-digital brand expression and brand-integrated content.

Digital brand expression moves beyond logos, colors and fonts into UI patterns, motion and animations, transitions, video and interactive content — meaning digital is at the center of design. Integrating brand associations into content is more than editing, it’s crucial. The more your content gets shared, the less control you have over your message or the context its being put in. We call this process Brand Fade, and it can be detrimental to creating a consistent brand story across channels.

Tactics Are Your Instruments
Similar to how the same notes can be played by many different instruments, the same content can be deployed across many channels. Good orchestrators (re: marketers) know the voice of each instrument, choose which instruments to employ and how many to assemble. This can be especially difficult as new channels and tactics continue to emerge, requiring strategic evaluation of each and every addition.

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Variety Gives You Dynamics
Dynamics refers to how volume is applied — good marketing orchestrators don’t amplify everything; they use modulation and variety to retain interest. Amplification can mean different things depending on product or industry, but it generally refers to ensuring your marketing efforts are heard loudly and widely. Enter the cannonball, a.k.a. “the Big Campaign.” For B2B marketers, this is often a key campaign centered around a piece of thought leadership or other valuable content that requires a lot of work and promotion. Although effective, it’s important to build a variety of content, in a wide range of formats, to help fill gaps and retain interest.

Cadence Keeps You On Beat
This is all about timing and allows multiple performers to play together. Top marketers keep the beat by documenting an editorial calendar, which helps plan the what, when and where of content distribution. Calendars also help organize channels, topics, timing, formats and workflow.

Audiences Become Users
Digital is inherently participatory, a shift from the traditional “audiences” marketers focus on. Digital demands that you offer your users a specific role to play. User participation has a tendency to make marketers nervous or anxious — the dreaded Internet troll is usually the first thing that comes to mind. User participation is more than calls-to-action like “drop a comment below” or “let us know what you think.” These kinds of false "participation" lend themselves to critique. True participation relies on shared goals and purpose; newer models for digital user participation are more structured, guided and let the user truly become part of the brand experience.

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Kalev Peekna Managing Director, Chief Strategist

Kalev Peekna is the Chief Strategist at One North, leading the Digital Strategy team. He brings a cross-platform, user-focused approach to innovations in brand development, design, data analysis and technology, and helps clients apply those innovations to their strategic aims.

  • If I were a vegetable: I would be broccoli. Because I have always wanted someone to call me “cruciferous.” 
  • Most unusual job: Cocktail bartender at a Cabaret

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