Post by: Susan Simon, Conversation Starter, Savage Brands

Last month’s AMA Houston Energy SIG addressed the question: As marketers and branding professionals, how do we reach consumers that have come to expect technology to be a part of every aspect of their lives? Presenters from Phillips 66 and Baker Hughes shared ways that their company is engaging internal and external audiences with innovative technology.

event recap Houston Energy SIG tech savvyJoel Tarver, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing and Global Marketing at Baker Hughes, dazzled the audience with visions of the roughneck of the future — envision wearing a HUD-equipped hardhat that enhances reality with overlays of technical drawings, provides personnel information, points out safety violations, records work activities, and can even monitor the stress levels of the employee wearing it. Joel mentioned that augmented reality is going to be our new reality – like Minority Report. This device is just one way Baker Hughes is helping to utilize technology to change the way the O & G industry operates. Joel asked us to think about how closely we are related to the healthcare industry and the military.

While this vision may still be a few years away, the company is already engaging its employees and customers in innovative ways using games to train, inform, and even sell products.

For internal customers, using this technology has meant greater efficiencies. For example, they use gamification to reduce training times from 1 week to 1 day (and half of that day is teaching them to use an iPad!). External customers are reaping the benefits of a more engaging training experience.

The next speaker, Jack Whalen, Manager, Brand Value at Phillips 66, spoke about the ways the company is not just thinking about its own customers or employees when it engages technology—it’s concerned with the end-user, the final consumer (B2B2C).

The company recognized that it wasn’t competing with more consumer-focused facilities (we all know Buc-ee’s) and had the CEO’s support to do something about that. Phillips 66 is using big data and has transformed itself into a “Data Driven Marketing Organization”, bringing them not just up-to-par with their competition but allowing them to go to the next level.

They surveyed thousands of consumers serviced at over 200 Phillips 66 stations. Then they developed the right offerings using data insights to provide the experience their consumers expect. For example, their research showed free air appealed to 90% of consumers, touchless restrooms to 81% and fast-flow pumps to 77%; as a result they are testing these solutions in specific markets. Big Data revealed that 40% of consumers who buy gas do not go into the convenience store; in response, these stations will offer vending machines placed at the pump. You can add a bottle of water to your single transaction the same way you add a car wash.

The cool factor of the technology is not the most important part of what Phillips 66 is up to; it’s the in-depth research into data insights. Data’s not sexy—in fact, many branding professionals find it downright boring, but it’s critical to reaching customers in the right way.

The end result is that the team at Phillips 66 can predict the reaction of consumers to their offerings, adjust when necessary and become more agile. And that kind of insight adds value for their customers.

So if you’re a brand manager looking to reach internal or external customers more effectively, think less Mad Men and more Minority Report. As technology becomes more and more a part of our lives, it also has to become a critical part of our brands.

How is your company utilizing technology?

Susan Simon is an AMA member of the Houston Chapter and an ESIG volunteer.

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