Mansur Khamitov, assistant professor of marketing at the Kelley School of Business in Indiana University, on CX Decoded
CX Decoded Podcast
January 11, 2022

CX Decoded Podcast Episode 4: Are Customers Truly Connected to Your Brand?

Poor and failed brand, marketing and service experiences can naturally make or break a brand in what many call the experience economy. Customers can be creeped out as a function of personalized online marketing. Customers can have perceptions of dark/negative brand personalities.

Brands need to consider being authentic and sincere and engaging in storytelling as a premium service. Not just for the sake of storytelling, but because that's backed up by your internal mission where employees buy into that story as well.

Mansur Khamitov, assistant professor of marketing at the Kelley School of Business in Indiana University, shared those and other brand strategy and marketing tips based on his in-depth research in the latest CX Decoded Podcast with co-hosts Rich Hein and Dom Nicastro of CMSWire.

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

Rich Hein: Hello again everyone and welcome to CX Decoded. I'm back with my co-host, Dom Nicastro, senior reporter at CMSWire.

Dom Nicastro: Hey Rich, great to be here with you as always. Let's just get right into it. Let's introduce our guest with our guests rapid fire. You ready for that Rich?

Rich: Yeah, let's do it.

Dom: All right, so who have we got on today?

Rich: Mansur Khamitov.

Dom: And what's his title?

Rich: He is assistant professor of marketing at the Kelley School of Business in Indiana University.

Dom: And why do we have him on today Rich?

Rich: He's done a lot of studies in brand marketing and failure specifically in brand marketing. So we're here to discuss poor and failed brand marketing, along with service experiences. And you know, we want to find out what we can learn from him. I mean, it's all a very involved process Dom that goes way beyond the old marketing tactics that we've used in the past like spray and pray. A journal of marketing study by the American Marketing Association discussed the value for marketers to embrace the relationship status quo, and it discusses psychological distance, as a way of conceptualizing how close to or far from a brand that consumers themselves feel. And we're really lucky to be able to pick the brain of Mansur on this and other closely related topics.

Dom: Yeah, absolutely, of course a great topic right in our sweet spot Rich talking about marketing, especially given the past 20 or so months, right? I mean, brand purpose, brand connections to customers. I mean, it was just put to the test like no other time period, arguably.

Mansur, how are you doing today? Thanks for joining us.

Mansur Khamitov: I'm doing fantastic, Rich and Dom, thank you for having me here with you.

Rich: It is so good to have you with us here today, Mansur. We often like to get started by having our guest give a little introduction to our audience. I'd love to hear more about you, your role, how you got where you are and how things are going?

Mansur: Sure. Sounds great. So as you mentioned, I'm presently professor of marketing, branding and consumer behavior here at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. I have been kind of in this academic space already for 8 1/2 years. So since 2013, just really doing the research in teaching, serving, consultant, advising, both here in the States, in Canada and in Singapore. So prior to turning all nerdy and academic-ey, I was actually in the industry, also primarily in brand management roles in P&G, and Polpharma.

Dom: Excellent. Thanks for that, Mansur. You know, one of the other proverbial questions we ask, and it's an important one. I know we do it a lot. But we'd love to hear how you are doing health-wise and how you are doing through this pandemic. I mean, you know, with your role, because so many things shifted, so many people had to adapt, adjust, and now adapt and adjust again, now that we're trying to get back to the working in-person world. So we'd love to get a little sense of how things have gone for you over the past 20 or so months?

Mansur: Sure. Well, thankfully, health-wise, can't complain. Everything's been going well. Professionally, I guess more in the work-related front, it's been a huge shift to be very frank with you guys. So teaching-wise, for example, being here, all of us, including myself, obviously had to convert our courses with a very short time span to this hybrid-first format, and then to entirely virtual remote, figuring this new reality out, both from a content standpoint, but also from a tech standpoint.

And while, this all while keeping up the student engagement levels. And few months ago, we had to restructure courses again, and readjust them back to an in-person format, in the new normal, so to speak. And that's been really interesting experience so far. And that's on the teaching side.

I guess, research-wise, many traditional data collection sources that for us, we traditionally rely on, such as, for example, student panels, or student participants in the lab, they've been restricted or put on hold altogether.

So that really pushed me personally, as well as many of our other colleague professors that I know, to really innovate, be more creative by trying to understand and seek alternative ways of data collection. Teaming up with companies for AB testing, or field experimentation, as well as trying to find good archival or secondary data.

Rich: I think it's interesting that you talked about having to make a move to hybrid and fully remote and I'd love to hear your thoughts. To me that seems like a completely different skill set when you're talking about being a professor and being able to reach students in the classroom versus having to do everything online?

Mansur: Yeah, it's definitely a different dynamic. We're not necessarily receiving training specifically for the online world, right? So I would say, what has been happening is just different dynamics of engagement. Like online, for example, I mean, attention span these days of key participants or stakeholders in the classroom, and I'm talking about whether I teach in the MBA program or undergrad program, or when we teach executives or stuff like that. Attention span is quite limited these days, as you would probably expect, which makes the online format especially challenging in that sense, right? Because there's only so many things you can focus on pay attention to, while probably trying to multitask and do things like that.

So we had to dial up that engagement, and do group breakout rooms, and little pop up quizzes and things like that. So it was interesting experience. And many of these things, we kind of had to figure out on the go.

Dom: You know, it's funny, Rich he brought up the marketing students the way they learn and, you know, a big chunk of our audience is, you know, marketing leaders at, VPs of marketing, CMOs, and they're going to be hiring your students, Mansur.

So what is the focus there? You know, how are these students learning about marketing? And what are they empowered with? Do you lean toward technology of marketing, brand strategy? What should an undergrad marketing student be equipped with? And what kind of skills should these marketing leaders expect when they get out of school?

Mansur: Just as a brief background, I've been fortunate and privileged to also keep in touch very well with a lot of my senior marketing friends, like, you know, CMOs or VPs, in the industry, and so on and so forth. So what I'm trying to do, trying to be a bridge, kind of a two-way street to try to channel to students what some of the expectations are from senior marketing leaders, and then also do the other way around.

I would say that couple of things have been interesting. So in terms of, you brought up the curriculum. So I'd say definitely, the curriculum is designed to be kind of a nice blend and hybrid of both technology-based and stuff related to martech, but also very much marketing-strategy based. And if you were to ask me, is it leaning a bit more one way or another? I'd say definitely, it's still a bit more skewed toward fundamentals of marketing strategy and consumer behavior.

That having been said, there's definitely a considerably more consolidated push among us, but also students, we're seeing more and more interest in at least several groups of topics, right? So CX and EX are big, data science and data quant gigs, there's a lot of excitement in there. Consumer well-being and sustainability and kind of circular economy, especially with like Gen Zers, many of them being the classroom, brand purpose, long-term brand building.

And I'd say also influencer marketing. These are some topics that just received a disproportionate amount of excitement from, from the students. But also, that's what I've been hearing from the industry leaders, that's there need students, and people who train them to step in and step up their game in a way.

Rich: So we are going to get into brand marketing strategies. But I did have one more academic question. And it has to do with the pace of change in evolution, like in the real world marketing, and in customer experience, a lot of it's the technology's just, it's coming at you so fast that it's just difficult to keep up. And I'm just curious to know what that means for organizations like yours for their curriculum.

Mansur: It's always an interesting, interesting dynamic there, because on one hand, things that I advise or teach or research, are in the branding space, or brand management, brand, strategy, and so on. So there's a lot of fundamental things there. I know, for example, from some of my colleagues, right that, let's say, teach digital marketing, or marketing analytics and things like that. Most of the time, what happens, you teach something this semester, you're so excited. And then guess what? Boom. Next thing you know, algorithm changes, and what you're teaching is entirely obsolete, and you have to revamp the entire course.

So I would say this very interesting kind of push to stay up to date, academia has sometimes been playing like little catch up. So let's see what's cooler, popular trending industry, let's try to stay afloat. Here it's way more about thought leadership and trying to anticipate these things. Like, what's the next big technological trend that's going to disrupt the way marketers think about some of the consumer behavior or some of those things?

Dom: That's interesting that these students, you know, future marketers, are getting hands on experience with some of these technologies because on day one, let me tell you, they're going to get on boarded with some of these marketing automation tools, Google Analytics, AI tools that are emerging customer data platforms, CMS, so they're gonna have to be ready.

Mansur: I couldn't agree more.

Rich: Yeah, I think that's a good point. I mean, in the first week, in a new job, you'd probably encounter, you know, 20 different digital platforms or tools that you'd need to familiarize yourself with.

Mansur: That's how I've been approaching this too, because a lot of times, when students start out as future aspiring marketers, like in the program, try to get some knowledge, etc., there's almost this misconception, right? They're like, why are you doing this marketing? Oh, because I wanted to escape finance, right? Or I think it's soft and fluffy. And it's all advertising, like, you know, roses and whatnot.

And then people like me come in, step in, we're like, look at the end of the day it's all about accountability. It's about metrics, a lot of it is hands on, simulations, tools, and exactly what you guys are saying. So this is very critical to wake up to that reality to students very early on, so that they have their expectations clear.

Dom: Yeah, it's a typical CX Decoded podcast Rich, our guests answers the first question in a super enlightening and fascinating way, and we just go down a rabbit hole, but I like it.

Rich: Yeah, it's time for us to talk about brand purpose, brand connections, and how marketing plays a huge role in that. When we were researching some of your work one stat you shared on a webinar in early 2021, you know, maybe it's shocking when you first hear it. But when you actually start thinking about it, I'm not sure how shocking it is. It's that on average, consumers only have 2.15 brands that are important to them. Needless to say, it's challenging to strike connections with brands. So why do you think that is?

Mansur: It's been very much an ongoing topic in my research, and exactly like you said. That study that you guys were kind of able to look up, that was a Journal of Marketing paper, where one of the things we did we did a survey and what we found is that on average, if you ask participants, how many brands are important to you, the numbers turn out very, very low. Like almost to us, it was surprisingly low; it was 2.15 brands and actually, what's even more interesting, fewer than 1% of respondents to the best of my memory, they list 10 or more brands.

And if we look at, it's not only academic stuff, right? Like if you're more impressed by like, let's say Havas, for example, they had their very large scale, meaningful brand study. And the most recent one with close to 400,000 consumers, their stat that they provided was that 75% of brands basically could disappear overnight, and no one or most of these people would not care at all, and less than half of the brands are seen as trustworthy.

So that was interesting reinforcement of some of the work that I did, which is why I think the stuff that I research in terms of, you guys mentioned, right, like purposeful, and purpose-driven brands, consumer connections with brands. And if you're still able to leverage and facilitate those connections, even in against a sort of dark or not so optimistic background, that is really is very impressive.

Rich: You know, when we were talking earlier about the pandemic, it seems like consumers were kind of forced to try other brands due to supply chain and all these other issues. And I'm just curious to know what your thoughts are. To me, it seems like that may have had an impact pushing people outside their comfort zones. And then once people start trying different things, you know, you find a new favorite.

Mansur: True, true, that's a good point that we typically refer to this phenomenon, right? This kind of variety seeking, right? So unless you try other brands or products, unless a good opportunity arises to do so, you won't even know that there are other viable good alternatives. So we've seen a lot of that actually during the pandemic.  

So yes, on one hand, consumers are tempted to go and variety-seek and try things out while at the same time, especially during uncertain times there's research, both other research and my research, that says that during the uncertainty, the premium on something known, familiar, and something trustworthy, actually goes up through the roof as well.

So it's almost like an interesting dynamic pulling consumers in two different directions here.

Dom: Yeah, that is fascinating how these negative perceptions occur, why they happen. I mean, is there anything these marketers or marketing teams or brands can do to get ahead of that? Or is it just sometimes you know what, we might be striking the right tones, we might be doing the right things, saying the right things. It's just not gonna happen. Loyalty is hard to come by these days.

Mansur: Yeah, well, there's challenges as with any other kind of endeavor, but there are certain things that come up as generalizations from some of the work that I've done or observations.

So for one, I think, really the premium on being authentic and sincere and engaging in storytelling, but not just for the sake of storytelling, but because it's backed up by your internal mission, employees buying into that story and also being able to articulate that effectively. Because what we've seen, especially going back to the theme of pandemic, a lot of brands were receiving pushback and backlash for this jumping on pandemic bandwagon, so that it doesn't actually sound at all sincere, or authentic, right? Or that they're not walking the talk that they're there just to like, say things.

Rich: You mentioned authenticity and storytelling, I was surprised that they didn't hear you say, problem solving in there.

Mansur: Yeah, that's a big one.

So problem solving is it ultimately comes down, so I think and please correct me if I'm wrong, what you're touching upon here, the notion of problem solving is also very much tied to that walking the talk, so to speak, right? So now, if you just put your messaging out there, but it's not really backed up by competence, like by effectiveness in doing what you do, in the ability to deliver on your key promise of the brand.

Rich: Yeah, I mean, I think that falls into the storytelling bucket there. You know, you want to be telling stories, authentic stories that matter to your audience. And also that highlights how your product or your service is solving a problem. So I think that's very powerful.

So we're living in this era now, where customer data and privacy is becoming more and more important. And you know, we've all heard the terrible stories of customers having feelings of being creeped out as part of personalized online marketing and things along those lines. What do you see there? And why do you think that's happening more and more?

Mansur: That's actually really interesting. One of the things that I have been focusing a lot on lately. So it's really interesting, fascinating how with this proliferation of technology and technological advances, although there's huge upsides to it, as far as consumers go, a lot of times that is not followed by corresponding consumer understanding and appreciation for sort of how things work.

So in some of my research that I've been working on lately, what we've been looking at is all this online personalized advertising, you can call them online, personalized marketing techniques and concepts like re-targeting or location-based marketing, or voice recognition, sometimes things like social media profile recognition, or personalized online selling video recognition, things like that. What happens is, because consumers don't naturally, or easily, or fully understand how and why things work like that, what's in it for them. What happens is, when confronted with some of these tactics, people just instinctively get super, super creeped out.

And we develop the scale. Think about it as a survey to help marketers and to help consumers understand this phenomenon better. What leads to creepiness. Why it emerges when we focus on couple of things, right, ambiguity of potential harm or associated with potential threat. And then kind of this perception that there's intrusive surveillance. And what we found is that, collectively, they lead to very strong creepiness as a function of all those online personalized tactics, which then actually hurts the brand. It lowers attitudes, it lowers purchase intentions, and people just have very negative reactions to it.

Rich: So what do you think is the solution there for brands?

Mansur: So I would say there's a couple of things highlighted from our research. So here's what marketers can do about this, based on our work, what we've been seeing. First and foremost, be transparent and unambiguous, opt for full and active disclosure, and not just within the scope of like, let's say what's mandated by CCPA, or GDPR, or whatever, but also beyond. Make it simpler for consumers to easier understand or more straightforward, what kind of data has been collected, why and how, and even more importantly, what's in it for them, like what's the tangible kind of benefit that they may receive because of that.

And then also kind of make people more transparent, how and why they're getting targeted advertising in a personalized manner, so that it doesn't come across as intrusive this surveillance. And finally, I'd say the only other thing would be, also make it as simple as make it easy to opt out, not hide it somewhere in the remote place using like a small font or fine print, right, just things like that, could go a long way.

Dom: Yeah, I think one of the things that's going to help the creepiness factor has to be the pending demise of cookies. Because, you know, we know we're in the game, we talk to marketers we write about marketing as you teach marketing. We know that when we go to a vendors website is a great chance that when we go on our Facebook feed later, that we're going to see that vendor in there targeting us, likely.

And I gotta tell you, the Gen Zers, they must understand how that works.

Mansur: It's not like an overnight thing. So I'm sure you guys you've been following the cookies story. It's kind of there, it will go away, but then there's always some kind of little roadblocks or adjustments or modifications and it's pushed back to the next year. I think the creepiness is going to be reduced substantially for especially like re-targeting type scenarios, but other things will still be there.

Like, as simple as like, you talking about something to your friend, then your iPhone is with you right there. And then all of a sudden, next thing, you know, you get notifications for like a trip to Paris or something like that. So there's still a lot of situations, that could be leading to creepiness. But I would echo your intuition that specific to cookie-based scenarios, hopefully, that will go a long way to at least partially reduce the creepiness factor, so to speak.

Rich: You know, I have to agree with you, Mansur. So ultimately, I really feel like brands need to be transparent with all their customers about their data, what data they have, and how it's being used. And just as importantly, you know, sharing the value proposition behind that, like what you're getting for the data. And if brands can articulate that well, I think they'll do great.

Mansur: That's a nice summary of exactly what I had in mind.

Dom: Yeah, I've been targeted by Domino's Rich, every Friday night. It's like, I'm, I am not kidding, I am not kidding, there is value in there. Because I do like pizza. So they know me, they know when I start to think about pizza. That's probably the other six days of the week as well I often think about pizza.

But that's another story. So Mansur, psychological distance, we touched on this just a bit. And I just would love for you to educate our listeners on that concept of psychological distance. You know, what does it mean? And what does it have to do with branding and marketing?

Mansur: Absolutely. So this recent paper of mine, what we focused on there is this idea of psychological distance. And, as really, as a way of conceptualizing pretty simply and parsimoniously. How close to or how far from a brand you as a consumer feel yourself to be. What we did, we built on that idea that if we look at a lot of approaches right now, how both academic marketers, industry marketers, other thought leaders, how they try to capture this strength of this consumer brand connection, or consumer brand relationships. And one way or another, it all goes back to this notion of psychological distance, right?

Again, the closeness or distance, how close or far from a brand you believe yourself to be. And because it's such a pervasive idea, we took that idea, we measured it experimentally, without AB tests, using pretty straightforward kind of measures. And what we found is that if managers understand this psychological distance variable between consumers and brands and think about it as a segmentation variable, they can then match that distance with different kinds of language in the marketing communications.

So I'll give you an example. What our findings show is that for those consumers that are distant to your brand, you know who they are, and you target them, we found that when we send marketing communications to them, some brand communications, they respond way better to what we call abstract or high-level language. But if you actually target or you try to approach or like send personalized communications to consumers who are very close to the brand, for them, actually, it's the opposite. So more concrete, kind of low-level language works better.

And even our studies that we had real monetary stakes and consequences, I believe, in one of those, we found that for more distant brands, consumers actually paid up to 35% more premium for a product when they saw an ad that features again, very abstract language compared to concrete. But then for close brands, consumers paid about 20% more in dollar amount when the ads really featured much more concrete compared to abstract language.

Rich: That seems almost counterintuitive, that marketers should not necessarily be working too close that psychological distance.

Mansur: And really, with this research, what we're seeing, there is a potential to be more respectful and more strategic by not necessarily pushing consumers into closer connections that they may not desire, or that they may not have subscribed to in the first place, but realize that not all connections are going to be close. Like don't give up on those consumers, they can still be valuable, they can still be users of your brand. But alter the level of concreteness of your marketing communications, right, like design different messaging, so to speak, that would then help these people still be happy derive value from your brand, even though they're not necessarily close to your brand.

Dom: So Mansur, a lot of our listener are marketers, and they spend their days, their nights doing AB testing, send this one out, today, send this one out next week, which did better. That's their life. They're constantly measuring, constantly testing.

So I'd love an example of each approach, the abstract versus concrete language, could you give us like a hypothetical example of hey, this is an abstract language, and hey, this is a concrete language communication?

Mansur: Happy to. So what we did, and again, we've done this with a huge variety of brands, like we had a Coke study, we had TWG study, which is a tea brand. We had an animal shelter study. So we had everything.

Basically, the typical approach, how we focus on it, like how we kind of made it happen was, when I say more abstract, kind of high-level communications, primarily, the way we design our ads to match that messaging was that we talked about more of the abstract symbolic things, like why you should use the brand? What's in it for you? Why does it make sense for your customers to buy from the brand or to consider the brand?

Whereas for the low level or concrete language ... So conceptually, we try to keep it quite similar. So we didn't want to introduce a lot of what AB testing people would be referring to as confounds. But there we focus much more not on the why part, but much more on the how part right? So like, how to use the brand. How do you go about using the brand actually, and what are the more of the processes or mechanics or logistics associated with it?

So that was kind of our way to approach it. And then we try to infuse our actual ads that we came up with, based on again, on real scenarios, try to make that happen.

Rich: So would it make sense then for marketers to tier this kind of customer messaging?

Mansur: So when you say tier, you mean, like their existing messaging? Can you elaborate a bit on your question?

Rich: The abstract versus the concrete.

Mansur: Yeah. So it basically it'll be kind of understand the key segments, and at least try to do the mapping in terms of not all brands would have all close customers or all distant, in fact, you may have segments that are relatively close or relatively more distant, and then use that knowledge to basically fine-tune and adjust your existing marketing communications, to again to either be more abstract in nature or more concrete in nature.

And there are ways right, there's dictionary for abstract words, there's dictionaries for concrete words. So you can actually play with that, and fine-tune the communications accordingly.

Rich: So this actually leads up to my next question, which is, you know, you've spoken about marketers needing to have decision guidelines for marketing communications. Can you talk about that a little bit and offer some examples of how marketers can get this strategy moving forward?

Mansur: I'd say this is a direct offshoot of this specific project. But I'll also briefly elaborate on like other things, too.

So for this specific project. Again, talking about this, concreteness, abstractness and marketing communications. So what we came up with, in that project, you can call it decision guidelines for marketing communications, you can also call it decision tree. So sometimes we kind of love to put it in a little visual or graphic format.

And then with this specific paper is what we're kind of trying to do, compared to many traditional academic papers that are very technical, very hard to digest, and may not be broadly appealing to marketers, right?

What we do is a visual distillation of that specific decision process. Where you would start is the first decision guideline would be who are you customers and regular users of the brand? Which can be a good proxy for this closeness or distance.

And if the answer is no, chances are customers may not sufficiently attend to communications really deeply or strongly in order for any effects to occur. But if the answer is yes, then you try to see OK, how is the brand perceived by them? Is it more close where the consumers have a relatively strong bond, or maybe emotional bond, or identity type of bond with the brand? If yes, then what you do you go and basically try to again map and match this mindset congruency with a more concrete language, and then if the answer is more distant, the way the brand is perceived, then you would need to tailor your communications to use more abstract language.

I don't want to go too much in those other details, because we also nuanced this, we have other additional decision guidelines. For example, if consumers can get all necessary information about the brand prior to purchase, and if they depend on the answer be no or yes, that actually can also alter the recommendation. On the more general front, I'd say the same logic goes for my other papers, where I kind of tried to do this evidence-based approach and develop decision guidelines for brand communications. So like, trying to come up with managerial strategies of how you can drive loyalty, or how you can drive favorable outcomes.

Dom: You also talk a lot about brand transgressions. Can you share what you're talking about specifically, and then maybe share some examples of this happening and how marketing teams can learn from it?

Mansur: A lot of times, things are not as straightforward things can go wrong, things can go south. So what I've been doing in this line of research and teaching and kind of consultant work is that as long as there's any breach of trust by the brand's target audience, and I'll give you some examples in a few seconds, or some kind of perceived psychological contract violation, or really big major disconfirmation of customer brand expectations, that a good number of consumers attend to, this would then be viewed as brand transgression.

There are some classic examples, right? For example, if you think about BP's oil spill, Volkswagen's Dieselgate, United's infamous passenger-dragging incident, or Uber's series of scandals, there's some been interesting ones more recently, during the pandemic that I'll happily talk about, too.

But I'd say again, when brand transgressions happen, and again, trying to keep it more practical as opposed to like theory or abstract, and marketing teams, I think really, first they need to try not to disregard or downplay it in the hopes that it will kind of blow over, or try to defer blame is kind of play the blame game, as in today's digital reality, as we know, everything spreads like wildfire. In fact, there's even the term coined for that by an amazing team of researchers, it's called Brand Firestorm.

So that's like a new thing here, act promptly, publicly and consistently by not only acknowledging the transgression, but actually owning up to it, and outline a clear and very compelling path forward to mitigate and remedy transgressions impact on all stakeholders and kind of helping them cope with it right.

And then my work also looks at different types of brand transgression. So for example, if you think about more value-based or morality-based transgressions, we found that apologizing and emotional responses, typically by big figurehead spokespeople help, and then if it's more of a performance or competence-based transgression, then most of the time compensation, straight compensation to consumers, or instrumental kind of response work best.

But I'd say even before that, right, like not only mitigating transgressions, but preemptively and proactively regularly assessing customer reactions with primary data, setting up social media war room dashboards, doing regularly whole customer journey mapping to diagnose touch points where things are going wrong, or where they may go wrong, and kind of trying to solve the root cause accordingly.

Rich: Reputation management.

Mansur: Absolutely. There you go. That's still very classic, still very relevant these days.

Rich: So we're almost out of time here. And we're going to do a rapid fire in a moment. But before we do, I would like to ask you, what do you see as the biggest brand marketing challenges for 2022? And if you have any takeaways for our audience, I'd love to hear them as well.

Mansur: So some of the biggest challenges. Again, I'd say the first fairly classic, but nevertheless, even more important these days than others is, again, this challenge of striking the right balance between what we call long-term brand building, and just kind of short-term brand metrics or brand performance maximization. So I think this challenge is real. And we're going to see how it plays out for many of the brands. So I'd say this is number one.

Number two, again, really big challenge, and I know this is what you guys talk a lot about in the CX Decoded podcast is, again, just really being much more evidence-based and accountable for brand marketers to not, again, developing empirical generalizations, relying on solid quantifiable metrics, and not just being abstract or not tied to practical business outcomes. Because again, if you're a brand manager, and your brand director does not push for it on one day or something, next thing you know, the CFO, or other people in the room are gonna push for it a lot.  

And number three, again, I would say, going back to the whole notion of I mentioned earlier, CX and EX, and some of the customer journey mapping stuff in these things. I think those are very, very relevant and increasingly important, again, for brand marketers and for brands to not only be mindful of, but actually proactively trying to leverage those and be very good at them.

Dom: All right, Mansur, so let's get into our this is actually a second rapid fire game of the podcast of the first was introducing you. But now we're gonna put you on the spot. Give us like a 10-second or so answer on these things. Kind of like think of it as what comes to mind when we say this. Right? So you ready? Okay.

Mansur: Sure. Fire away.

Dom: All right, what comes to mind when we say, students' passion for marketing?

Mansur: Well, student passion for marketing? I would say it's just really contagious, right? So like, students are super passionate about marketing and kind of they're of like, rubbing off on professors on their people who hire them. I don't know if that makes sense.

Dom: That's great to hear. It's great to hear that. Okay. That you see, and that passion among lawyers? Yeah, that's good. How about social media and marketing?

Mansur: So, okay, the first one again, maybe that's inspired by all the creepiness stuff, whatever I'm working on. But the Social Dilemma, there's a Netflix, I'm not sure if you guys watch it, but it's kind of, it's fun. So yeah, that that immediately comes to mind. I like all the dilemmas and paradoxes associated with it.

Dom: Artificial intelligence in marketing.

Mansur: Ooh, AI ethics, AI transparency, and I'd say, I'll probably leave it at that.

Rich: Ethical AI is something we're definitely keeping an eye on at CMSWire.

Dom: No question.

Mansur: That's great.

Dom: No question.

Mansur: Absolutely.

Dom: Couple more, marketing technology.

Mansur: Okay, martech stack, so I would say it's the first like, immediate top of mind association that I don't even have to think about. And then yeah, just it depends, right. But speaking of top of mind associations, there's really cool podcasts and some resources on martech.

Dom: Cool. All right. And lastly, this is more of a random one, but the holidays.

Mansur: Oh, the holidays. Yeah. Family time. Just relax, chill and have fun.

Dom: That's nice. That's nice to hear. Our guests actually do have things going on outside of their wonderful professional expertise. That's great to hear Rich.

Mansur: Hard to believe. But yes.

Rich: Mansur, before we let you go, we always like to let our guests share with the audience where we can connect with you and learn more about you.

Mansur:Sure, just like look up on LinkedIn, Mansur Khamitov, I'll happily connect with you there, where I tend to be quite active, I think accumulating maybe around 20,000 followers or so, routinely engage in sharing thought leadership there. I'm on Twitter as well. So yeah, any means, email, LinkedIn, Twitter, personal website, I'd love to hear from all your podcast listeners and keep in touch.