MasterCard CMO: Experiences Matter More Than Things

Interview with the Chief Marketing Officer of MasterCard about customer engagement, digital marketing and the changing shape of the C-suite.

Raja Rajamannar is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of MasterCard, where he has global responsibility for advertising, sponsorships, promotions, research, insights, and digital and consumer marketing initiatives.

Prior to Joining MasterCard, Rajamannar served as Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer at WellPoint, Inc., where he led the company’s strategic direction and had enterprise-wide oversight for marketing, innovation, corporate development & ventures, consumer data analytics, digital and international operations. Before this he served as Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer for Humana, a Fortune 100 Healthcare company.

Ahead of the Customer Experience Exchange for Financial Services in London in February 2016, CX Network spoke to Raja about finding new ways to engage with customers, the changing responsibilities within the C-suite and the digital opportunities within the marketing industry.

Part one of the interview can be found below and stay tuned for the second instalment next week.

Hi Raja, thanks for joining me today at CX Network. What are the biggest challenges you’re facing as the CMO of a huge global corporation such as MasterCard? How are you tackling these?

For companies like MasterCard who’ve been around decades, how do you (1) shape entrenched consumer perceptions about your brand (2) develop new capabilities in existing employees (3) manage shifting investor expectations and (4) build new connections for the future as you begin your transformative digital journey?

Actually, the digital world is surprisingly liberating, forgiving and dare I say it: more fun. As a legacy brand we have equity, credibility and great assets, and with the wind in our sail we can rapidly move forward. While digital began impacting consumers as a trickle in the ‘90s it is now a full blown tsunami that is only gathering force with time.

17 years ago we identified a valuable consumer insight – experiences matter more than things. So we started celebrating Priceless moments in people’s lives. And we did a great job of it. But now technology enables us to create Priceless experiences rather than just celebrating them. We are able to deliver experiences to our consumers that they could not replicate on their own or with anyone else. So we re-crafted our positioning: Connecting People to Priceless Possibilities.

Digital has opened up the possibilities of where and when you can reach consumers. Its mobility and immediacy are unmatched in any other era. However, this has not been completely positive for marketers. The digital era has also led to consumers having very limited attention spans. We therefore are finding ways to engage them like never before.

This change in our approach enables us to go from simply having one-directional conversations to creating two-way engagements that are more fulfilling to our consumers. Additionally, we can leverage the power of social media to amplify our message and impact way beyond a single paid impression.

But most significant, is the speed with which we can take our message to market. Today, social media allows us to identify a trend, turn it into an insight, craft offers and benefits that leverage it, publish it to millions on our social channels and analyse and optimise it all within a twelve hour period.

And of course, we integrate social into our four social platforms:

Priceless Cities: Enables consumers to unlock priceless possibilities in the cities they live and vacation in a way that would not be available to anyone other than a MasterCard cardholder.

Priceless Surprises: An experiential platform that uses our sponsorship assets, marketing knowhow and technology to connect consumers to the things they are passionate about. By engaging with MasterCard through social media, consumers have the opportunity to unlock unique experiences that are tailored to their interests.

Priceless Causes: Philanthropy is a major passion area for our consumers. Using our technology and assets we make it easy for them to contribute to their favourite causes while doing everyday things. This enables fundraising for the cause while also driving our business objectives. Through our commitment to Stand Up To Cancer, for example, we’ve raised almost $30 million over five years.

Priceless Specials: People like to get discounts but there are so many out there that they make us feel anything but special so we deliver highly relevant and authentic offers that will make you feel special.

Drawing from your extensive experience within the industry, what is your ultimate piece of advice for your peers to help them provide a memorable customer experience?

Make the consumer experience central to your way of business, not simply a function.