We had the pleasure of catching up recently with Opal customer Jason Black, an exceptional marketing performance leader at IKEA. Jason and the team, which oversees all layers of marketing communication, have seen wonderful success streamlining their marketing process and increasing performance since adopting Opal as their marketing calendar. We want to share the valuable insight into how marketing and communications teams like Jason’s are navigating the challenges presented from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
With 11 years at IKEA under his belt, Jason has worked across the business in Europe and across various functions from human resources to e-commerce, CRM, digital marketing, and web communications, to now leading marketing performance for his U.K.-based team. In his new role, Jason needs to be able to keep his team organized in order to achieve the efficiency needed for success. “The scope is broad so it’s important that we look for the things that will drive the biggest impact, and optimise those areas,” says Jason.
So how do marketing and communications pros like Jason keep it all together during this challenging time? Jason offers some much-needed insight: keep an eye on the bigger picture and make sure you’re driving results toward bigger strategic business objectives.
Recently, IKEA has been able to pivot from the stories they were originally planning to tell at the beginning of the year to creating compelling content that keeps IKEA present in the mind of their customers and supports the overall brand positioning.
“Luckily for us, themes we were planning to bring into production like celebrating the home and using your space to relax are still relevant and we were able to adapt based on current circumstances,” says Jason. Opportunities created by the pandemic included people spending more time at home, which means more opportunities to co-create with their customers. Like our customer Leah Randall at Minted, Ikea has seen a spike in user-generated content as customers work, learn and live from home with IKEA products.
Consistency is everything
With a widely defined target audience (which Jason defines as “the many people”), the brand platform and point-of-view must be top-of-mind when developing content for web, social and other channels like paid search, email and retail. The tagline Wonderful Everyday serves as somewhat of a brand platform across all layers of the brand’s communication, and it’s critical that Jason and the wider team have consistency when orchestrating content that brings this statement to life across multiple channels.
“This statement means a lot,” says Jason. “We don’t see the special occasions as the things you should spend the most time planning for because they’re over quickly. But if you make every day wonderful by making the everyday special, we want you to think of IKEA. Like purchasing a coat hook at a child’s level, that’s the perfect example of making something ordinary special.”
Having alignment as a team to this overarching brand sentiment is critical to success as it ensures all of the content published by IKEA is consistent and ladders up to those strategic business objectives. Then the creative teams have the ability to bring a strong point-of-view to a campaign that’s communicated across channels.
For a global brand like IKEA, Jason says they take a regional approach to campaign alignment. Central brand messaging is established at a high level, then regional teams are empowered to make it their own and adapt to their regional insights.
Simplifying the process
The process for bringing campaigns and marketing initiatives to market is undergoing significant changes for nearly every team working in the Opal platform, so it’s no surprise that Jason says the IKEA activation marketing process today looks a lot different than it did prior to Spring 2020 due to improving alignment across channels as well as having greater visibility over campaign planning.
Part of simplifying that process is streamlining and improving collaboration across teams and regions, and especially creative agencies. “Agencies need a single truth connected to an area to land the point-of-view we’re sharing in a creative way,” says Jason. “So we spend a lot of time developing the strategic platform before we do anything and make sure it resonates with our customers, etc.” Then Jason says refinement and testing are central to defining success. “We make sure we are thinking through the customer journey so we’re communicating to them at different points while becoming more relevant with the right content at the right time.”
Having Opal as a shared marketing calendar keeps everyone on the same page and makes sure no team is left working in a silo. This allows Jason and his team to have structure despite the fast pace and ever-changing environment that comes with working in Marketing. “Something as simple as having awareness of what’s coming and giving them trust to be aligned to media, CRM and online efforts across channels, it’s really critical,” says Jason.
And being able to tear down silos is as rewarding as it is effective. “As our web manager, I was responsible for the online customer journey. It wasn’t easy to find out what’s happening and when. We were all working in quite a siloed way,” says Jason. “Having a central source of truth like Opal as our marketing calendar has been really helpful in tearing down those silos.”
With Opal, Jason says the simplicity of the interface made it easy to get his team up and running in the platform. “It’s not something you have to sell into people. It can be adapted to someone’s specific role or function and allows us to share what we need to — without oversharing or undersharing. We’re not working in different spreadsheets, we’re developing our work in Opal.”
The efficiency and increased performance Jason and the team at IKEA have experienced as a result of streamlining their work in Opal is significant. “We are saving time being able to see what’s currently happening, what’s gone out in the past and what’s planned for the future.”