Digitization has changed the way businesses market their products. With the rise of online platforms the customer journey has become more complex, online and offline worlds have merged, and revolutionary marketing tools have emerged.
Gratianne Valdez Quade has nearly a decade of experience in the digital marketing space. She says that for marketers in the digital era, the ability to harness big data is key.
When BusinessBecause last spoke to Gratianne, she was applying for a number of top business schools in Europe. Now, she’s halfway through the full-time Global MBA Program at France’s ESSEC Business School and is thrilled to profit from a 46,000-strong, international alumni network, which she knows will help fast-track her career within the digital sphere.
Gratianne started out in analytics at a digital advertising agency in New York, before spending several years working for non-profit organizations in Cambodia, where she launched the Digital Justice Project, an online database for missing and trafficked children.
How is marketing changing in the digital era?
Digitization has changed the way people shop and has given rise to a more complex customer journey, [which is] heavily influenced by online research and interaction.
With increasing internet penetration globally, there is a general trend towards the integration of the online and offline worlds. O2O [online-to-offline] marketing strives to reach customers at multiple touch points along their customer journey.
One example is L'Oréal’s Makeup Genius app, which allowed customers to augment their makeup testing options with a virtual makeover, utilizing smartphone video with a CGI-like overlay of makeup looks. The app drives customers to the built-in e-commerce store in the app, as well as to physical stores.
How important is big data in driving marketing strategy today?
There’s no question that big data holds a wealth of information and insight. Big data allows marketers to better understand the behavior of their customers. It can be leveraged for more targeted marketing and even allows companies to provide individuals with unique offerings based on their personal preferences.
The real challenge is not necessarily collecting, analyzing and interpreting the data, but finding creative ways to harness it, to connect with customers and bring them relevant solutions and products.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at ESSEC?
I wanted an international experience outside of the US and France was my top choice within Europe. ESSEC was the best cultural fit for me. Having met with students and staff, I immediately felt that I would fit in.
I knew I would have an edge in the French job market, as a degree from ESSEC is highly regarded.
How have you profited from your MBA experience so far?
My experience at ESSEC has been excellent, and I’ve grown and learnt a lot in the past six months. Having a smaller cohort — only 31 people — has made for a more interactive experience, and has really given me the chance to get to know my classmates and professors.
I have also greatly benefited from ESSEC’s large and international alumni network: I’ve found ESSEC graduates at every company that I have been interested in so far.
What was it like starting up the Digital Justice Project in Cambodia?
There is a dearth of data in Cambodia. Because of a lack of crime reporting, un-centralized record keeping and low capacity in law enforcement infrastructure in the region, there’s little data on exactly how many people are trafficked annually.
The Digital Justice Project is a database designed to be used by local law-enforcement and organizations to better document cases of the trafficking of children and facilitate cross-organizational co-operation on those cases. My co-founder had excellent working relationships with key Cambodian national police officials, which made collaboration possible.
The biggest challenge was procuring ongoing funding. The project is currently with Agape International Missions and I look forward to seeing it grow in the future.
How big is the issue of human trafficking in Cambodia today?
There’s no doubt that it’s a major issue.
Most Cambodians readily recount stories of a community member disappearing after migrating for work, of women and children coerced into the sex trade, or of people suffering in situations of bonded labor.
What advice do you have for MBAs looking to work in developing countries like Cambodia?
Do it! Employers value candidates that are flexible, creative, and who bring unique skills to the table.
Do your research and get in touch with professionals in the organizations and positions you are interested in, so you can understand what skills are needed and what you can bring.
If you are registered as an MBA applicant and interested in applying for ESSEC Business School, Gratianne is available to answer your questions.