A conversation with IEX’s Marija Zivanovic Smith about the future of Web3 and the new era of disintermediation designed to reframe CX+ the world

The perfect storm of rampant level transformation, the pandemic, and the proliferation of blockchain technologies designed to eradicate the middleman and create more DTC relationships, have been equated with shifting power dynamics between brands and consumers. The latter are more in control than ever and the set of criteria for the brands they do business with continues to increase, both in volume and in complexity.

With this in mind, customer acquisition, retention and overall growth has never been more important. As a result, brands across all industries are looking for the best way to create superb customer experiences that not only meet, but exceed expectations. Web3, which sits at the epicenter of all these changes, will turn everything upside down and give consumers the power to influence decisions about what companies should make, manufacture and sell to. their by controlling their own data on decentralized systems.

With all of that in mind, I wanted to talk to someone sitting in the catbird’s seat about the Web3 revolution and the new era of consumer control, which places an even greater challenge for brands in innovate on how to meet consumers where they are. I recently caught up with Marija Zivanovic Smith, new director of marketing and communications at IEX, and former director of marketing and head of external affairs at NCR. Marija’s career spans marketing, communications and public affairs. She’s helped big brands get their messages heard from K Street to Wall Street and around the world. Here is a recap of our conversation:

Billie Howard: Tell me about your new role and your first vision at 100 days?

Marija Zivanovic Smith: These 100 days have been refreshing and fascinating. Moving from a Fortune 500 brand into a whole new industry, with an evolving mission-driven business, is beyond exciting and highly motivating! At IEX, I have this great opportunity to lead a brand into the future. I work with this incredible company that has only been around for a decade and was founded around a deep desire to cause meaningful change in the industry. And the best part is that we actually do. For a CMO to be tasked with thinking about how to build a future legacy for a relatively new brand, especially one as mission-driven as IEX, is meaningful and exhilarating.

IEX is a company whose mission is to “build fairer markets” and level the playing field with technology that serves a wide variety of market players. This mission appeals to me deeply because my goal has always been to be a builder. IEX’s mindset and growth philosophy aligns well with my purpose to build. And we’re really just getting started. Today, the trading landscape is changing rapidly, with investors and brokers more performance-focused than ever and regulators continuing to promote transparency.

If I had to sum up my 100-day vision, it would be: Build on the trust, innovation and brand value that IEX has already created by modernizing and unifying the company’s narrative and invigorating its go-to-market strategy as we enter new spaces.

Howard: Why is crypto so important for a brand to help them better meet consumers where they are?

Zivanovic Smith: Digital assets in general will be one of the next mediums through which brands will connect with their customers. This means that digital assets, from a marketing perspective, also represent a new wave of customer-centric tools, reach, and innovation.

Think back to before the internet existed, when stores, banks and restaurants were all bricks and mortar. As the internet grew in prominence, those hesitant to jump on board and build an online presence were left behind. Iconic companies like Kodak, Blockbuster and Toys R’ Us that either waited too long or simply couldn’t keep up and adapt to the speed of technological advancement and changing consumer demands simply did not survive. Digital transformation was essential for businesses and their marketing teams if they were to thrive.

Brands must have the foresight to meet their customers where they will be in the years to come, which will require an entirely new set of strategies and tools. Customer obsession is now the North Star of marketing and brands will need to shift from personalization to individualization to achieve 1:1 customer intimacy at scale. The key to brands’ success will be to transform their data-driven marketing using insights, at the enterprise level, to uncover a more complex understanding of customers.

Howard: What are the most important things marketers need to know about Web 3?

Zivanovic Smith: Web3, being the next iteration of the World Wide Web, with token-based commerce and blockchain technology, will require the next wave of customer-centric tools, reach, and innovation. If we think back to how we integrated email marketing into our toolkits and then used tools like Adobe’s Bizible to understand attribution, integrated chat into our websites, or created plans around social media, we need to start exploring those tools and innovations that are out there. in the Web3 context. We cannot ignore or neglect this. We need to find new ways to participate in conversations.

I wonder: What is the next version of automation and measurement that exists in Web3? What is the next social tool? How will society evolve? As marketers, we need to be proactive and begin the process of quickly exploring and learning the answers to these questions. Today, consumer expectations have never been higher and consumer sentiment is changing by the minute. This requires a personalized buying journey that incorporates technology that gives them additional data sources to retain and acquire new customers.

There is also a whole new world of digital and financial literacy via “tokenomics” that all marketers need to be aware of. A new language is emerging, and the understanding around it all is frankly lagging behind. If we don’t act quickly, the rug will be ripped from under our feet before we even see it.

Howard: How is brand purpose definition evolving to match consumer expectations in our new

the age of stakeholder capitalism and what must all brands do to succeed?

Zivanovic Smith: The phrase “Don’t just talk, you have to lead” has renewed meaning for today’s employees and consumers. What you say and what you do are two completely different things. Tomorrow’s employees and consumers have very little tolerance for a low say/do ratio. The consumer of the future would prefer to own less if what they own and the creators behind it are aligned with their values.

Brand performance and business performance are closely linked. In the future, brand growth will go beyond mere product and profit, with social and cultural production taking precedence. The awareness and responsibility with which a brand participates in the world will be a prerequisite.

Given this shift, brand strategy will need to move from a product-focused strategy to one focused on building communities and collaborations. The brands that exist to serve or look like the hero will no longer be the brands that win. Brands that can meaningfully answer the question, “How can I make my community/the world a better place” and back that up with action? Are the brands that will succeed.

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