Chief Marketing Officer
Entercom Communications

What is the sound of marketing?

For Paul Suchman, CMO at Entercom, the sound of marketing is sonic branding and audio-centric customer engagement. It is about the voices and programming that consumers trust, love and build daily habits around. He believes marketing in general and audio in particular are on the cusp of major breakthroughs.

Suchman, a veteran marketer of both enterprise and agency, says sonic branding has new applications and a new sense of urgency in an increasingly screenless, sound-led world. Moreover, marketing is hitting a crescendo, in terms of scope of work, that will reverberate throughout an organization.

“Brands need to break through the complexity and win share of mind and heart—and ultimately share of wallet. The messaging you put into the marketplace must do triple duty: drive customer engagement and incite action, while still building core brand equity,” Suchman says. “Consumers are simply too inundated with content and too short on time to absorb disparate brand messages.”

Not only the scope of work but the voice of messaging itself has evolved. Today’s advertising content must be current, empathetic, smart and inclusive. Messages have to reflect good corporate citizenry and be attuned to the state of our world, while also seizing the moment but not falling victim to it.

“Now is the time for brands to future-proof their relationship with consumers by investing strategically in innovation, production and marketing,” Suchman says.

Citing a Harvard Business Review study looking at past global recessions, Suchman says, “Winning companies stayed close to their customers’ needs. They implemented defensive strategies such as improved operational efficiency, and offensive strategies including a focus on R&D and consistently strong investments in marketing.”

Brands today have complex global footprints and disparate business lines that need sophisticated content strategies in order to drive business outcomes. Given this expanded mandate, marketing leaders need to think creatively and come up with wholly new ideas.

Suchman says his stints at agencies have helped prepare him for this role. With so many clients, he had to hone his diverse thinking. For example, Suchman might be focused on fossil fuel at the start of the week for one client, free trade coffee midweek for another, and micro-processing chips by the end of the week.

“The value of agency partners has never been more important. When you’re inside an enterprise as CMO, living and breathing it every single day, it’s hard to maintain that outside perspective,” Suchman says. “While I can see marketing’s full impact and how it touches business lines and shared services, it’s important to bring in fresh ideas into the organization.”

The way marketing messages are being delivered is changing rapidly, too. People hunkered in their homes and tired of staring into computer screens all day are turning to sound. After all, sound fills rooms, penetrates walls and moves people, whether it’s dancing, singing or making buying decisions. It is the primal way we communicate and express our intentions.

“We’ve learned, especially in times of crisis, people turn to audio to connect through shared experiences and a sense of community - both of which are particularly unique to radio,” Suchman says.

Market research backs marketers embracing sonic branding. A Deloitte study, for example, found that the smart speaker is the fastest growing connected device in the world, with a 63% growth rate. Juniper Research predicts Americans will use nearly a billion voice-assistant devices by 2022.

“Futurists, marketing gurus and tech moguls alike have forecasted the importance of sound for businesses for years, but now predictions are becoming reality,” Suchman writes in his blog.


Related: Get to Know Phani Nagarjuna, President of the Harvard Business School of Northern California

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