Aisle Rocket Studios: Data-Driven, Brand-Centric Marketing Ecosystems
By Kashif Zaman, Chief Digital Officer, Aisle Rocket Studios
All Eyes on the CMO + CIO Partnership
Enterprises across the industry are hoping for their CMOs and CIOs to partner in harnessing big data and achieving sustainable competitive advantages. No matter which buzzword you start with, the focus leads to enhancing the customer’s experience in one way or another.
As a digital solutions provider, Aisle Rocket Studios works intimately with some of the most visionary and forward-thinking CMOs and CIOs in the industry. While their goals are similar, the difference is deep-rooted in the way they inspire their people.
Great CMOs build their team culture around original creative thinking to carve out unique customer propositions, while a great CIO takes pride in an environment of discipline and protocol where everyone works hard to achieve the highest standards of security and organization in the flow of information. Both seek a state of seamless integration, consistency and automation across the board.
The question is if the promise of a universally integrated system is even worth pursuing. Is the speed of business too agile to catch on for a typical enterprise technology road map?
The Case for Modularity and Hyper-Customization
We know that digital marketing technologies are shifting from highly inclusive, integrated systems to open application interfaces. The CMO’s office understands the need even more intimately as it tries to leverage data insights from media performance, web analytics, social engagements and the behavioral patterns of its customer segments.
Silicon Valley gets it. When SaaS providers disrupt the industry with a marketing platform, they start with highly modular and open systems. While enterprise IT attempts to catch on, most mainstream digital solution providers are unable to help because their roots are either in advertising or enterprise technology.
That’s where Aisle Rocket Studios (ARS) comes in. “We operate like a lean startup that serves as a seamless extension of our client’s marketing team. It is a very unique proposition,” says Kashif Zaman, Chief Digital Officer, ARS.
“In our view, the industry is drastically underserved by digital solution providers when it comes to flexibility and intimacy with the business,” he adds. Ad agencies are too tied to their ideals of selling dreams and offering BIG ideas without realizing that iterative optimization is the only way to counter the ground realities and achieve success. The tech consulting industry, on the other hand, is missing the boat on problem solving because their intrinsic motivation is to push enterprise technology platforms with a templatized approach.
The goal of delivering sustainable competitive advantages, by definition, requires a very high level of customization. The answer has to be in a smart design of systems and operations based on principles of modularity, customization and iterative evolution, while centralizing the core strategy framework around a set of key performance indicators and offering room for improvisation within the strategic road map.
"The goal of delivering sustainable competitive advantages, by definition, requires a very high level of customization"
“At Aisle Rocket Studios we master the art of building structural modularity in platforms and allowing for significant levels of customization without undermining the integrity of the overall system. It is possible only when we approach the digital programs as part of living and breathing ecosystems,” Zaman explains.
Self-Evolving Digital Ecosystems
“While digital systems are leaps and bounds away from emulating the laws of nature, we draw our inspiration from the theory of evolution and natural selection. Our vision propels us to the cutting edge of marketing thought leadership, and we are poised to continuously disrupt ourselves and everyone else along the way,” Zaman says.
The connected ecosystem provides the most long-term, consistent and immersive engagement platform between a brand and its customers across the product ownership life cycle
The ecosystem approach offers a comprehensive framework for CIOs and CMOs to work together. It offers deep data-to-action paradigms using predictive modeling. CIOs fancy that. At the same time, it offers a relentless focus to capture the brand’s essence through its customer’s experience—a CMO’s dream. The following three ecosystems define ARS’s strategic niches across the customer life cycle:
A) Brand Conversations
For brand awareness and new customer acquisition programs, where the goal is to increase reach while maintaining relevance, ARS breaks the silos of social, mobile, search, video and display advertising and provide a framework to optimize the right mix of paid, owned and earned media.
Content creation, curation and dialog management across all media is an omnichannel creative operation at ARS that crowd-sources the spread of a brand’s message through its happy customers instead of relying too much on paid advertising.
B) Shopper Decision Journey
“Shopper’s journey has always been our bread and butter. As in-market shoppers engage with digital and traditional touch points along their purchase journey, our goals are to map the path to purchase, one micro-moment at a time, and capitalize on every underutilized opportunity,” expresses Zaman.
There is an innovative future of product storytelling on the horizon. It involves virtual reality, mixed reality and automated conversation engines. “We plan to remain pioneers in all of these new channels, but our goal is to be guided by a prioritization model to use resources on the highest ROI-driven ideas first.”
C) Product Ownership Journey
On the surface, connected products offer a sense of novelty and cutting-edge utility. Underneath, the connected ecosystem provides the most long-term, consistent and immersive engagement platform between a brand and its customers across the whole product ownership life cycle.
Thanks to the successful endeavors with loyalty platforms and connected/smart product apps, ARS has an incredible momentum from a strategic as well as an execution standpoint.
Data-Driven. Brand-Centric. How?
Let’s use an example. A major brand wants to partner with a big-box retailer to launch a product line. The obvious approach is to target the demographic overlap of the two, but the reality is that the actual shopper is far too diverse and complex to be aggregated into a single target profile. That’s where we use a well-thought out, big data approach to empower the CIO and CMO teams and carve out a set of distinct shopper segments as a foundation for the go-to-market strategy. “We create proverbial “ground games” that are powered by highly contextualized content delivery in the case of digital retailers and highly inspired sales associate teams in the case of brick-and-mortar stores,” Zaman says.
Why is Aisle Rocket Studios great at this? Let’s find out.
The ARS Edge
Usually competitive advantages are hard to articulate, but they are very easy for us.
1) We are NOT an ad agency. We are the opposite.
“We are far too inspired to be agents of the paid media. We orchestrate experiences where consumers are driven by their own motivation to engage with the brand. If this is done successfully, the results are much more rewarding and sustainable as compared to paid advertising offerings,” Zaman states. Obviously paid media is part of the mix, but the ecosystem drives the extent of its need.
2) We are NOT technologists. We are shopologists.
Any digital solution provider can build an app, launch a website or execute a CRM platform. “We focus on knowing how people shop. That’s our knowledge equity”.
3) We are NOT consultants. We are entrepreneurs.
“We are in the client-intimacy business. Our clients see us as an extension of their team. We are their growth hackers and relentless problem solvers.
We know that the industry is starving for a digital solution partner like us,” he adds.
A Partner Like ARS
Craftsman, an iconic American brand, has been a chapter in the ARS story for over a decade. “We helped build its first ecommerce-enabled brand website about 10 years ago. Next we capitalized on the loyal brand fan base by building the Craftsman Club, one of the most advanced and comprehensive social loyalty platforms. And in 2016 we designed The Craftsman Smart Lawn App to accompany Bluetooth-enabled lawn mowers and tractors. This app has been highlighted as a key innovation at CES this year, and the Craftsman Smart Connected Kit has been selected as a finalist for the Edison Award for Innovation.”
“We are very fortunate to have a partner like ARS, who understands infrastructure and how marketing leverages that infrastructure to serve our members,” explains Peter Boutros, CMO, Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard.
It’s (Not) Rocket Science
Every business knows how integral the role of human capital is in its success. At ARS, people are 99 percent, if not 100 percent, of our value. “We believe that basic human intuition is the highest form of intelligence, and we call it “rocket science.”
To give you an insight into our Rocket Labs, ARS is working on cloud-enabled, virtual reality experiences and exploring the power of mixed reality to tell immersive product stories. “One of our teams is dedicated to learning how language-learning BOTs can overcome the challenges of assisted selling. While some proprietary initiatives cannot be disclosed, it is important to note that at ARS, innovation is not just about technology — we are creating the future of omnichannel marketing ecosystems,” Zaman concludes.