Are Marketers Losing their Power? - Melville Solutions
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Are Marketers Losing their Power?

18 Dec Are Marketers Losing their Power?

One of my highlights in 2015 was organising the IAA Global Brand Think Tank (GBTT). The GBTT was originally started in 2008 by the International Advertising Association (IAA) and to date has been an annual event bringing together leading marketers from global and local brands to discus the challenges that they face and that dominate the industry – see here for more GBTT info.

The 2015 event was no exception and my role, on behalf of the IAA, was to: find the topics that senior marketers wanted to know about, bring the right speakers and attendees into the room and create a forum for discussion.

The topic chosen was a punchy but relevant theme – Are Marketers Losing their Power – taken from conversations with industry leaders, including, Shell, Hitachi, Canon and HSBC.

Four topics were chosen for the event and given to the key speakers, all senior level people at their organisation from Barclaycard ,McKinsey & Company, IBM, CIM, EasyJet and Accenture; see here for the flier and more event information.

The event was under Chatham House rules but I can, and want to, share some of the problems and solutions marketers are addressing:

Marketing needs to be agile

Marketers are always asking for more money but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate; only one third claim to be able to prove qualitatively the impact of their spend.   Different areas are changing at different rates:

A) Old but still relevant practices:

  1. Brand are about a conversation, most powerfully through direct channels: Word of Mouth influences 50% of private decisions and 92% trust friends and family recommendations.
  2. The last “best” experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want everywhere.
  3. 76% of consumers expect organisations to understand their individual needs.

B) New practices:

  1. Is Marketing in the midst of a corporate power struggle? New corporate job titles such as ‘Chief Value Officer’ and ‘Chief Experience Officer’ reflect the shift and from different divisions. Innovation is now coming from CFO, Sales, and CTO – more of a team sport than a silo activity.
  2. Availability and insight of data – organisations are only tapping into 12% of data that is available. The industry has become data driven and data is the key to personalisation.

The need is for marketers to be agile so that they can react and predict these changes.  Agility is critical and those who don’t adopt it will not succeed: 70% of Fortune 1000 companies in 2004 do not exist today.

To date, marketing has not kept full pace with capabilities of technology and data. Procurement was a key area covered at the GBTT and that demonstrated this need. A focus for marketing procurement is to understand the key elements: sourcing/market knowledge/supplier performance management/demand management.  Brands are doing this through new strategically focused procurement departments so that they can manage the rise of digital; 60% of US Digital Investment will be programmatic by 2017.

Brands that do this will help justify Point A1.

Digital and Talent

The main driver of change is technology and it’s contribution to the huge impact of digital. Whilst digital should be at the centre, certain areas must be acknowledged:

  • A digital strategy per se is not the point: it’s asking how digital can help deliver the strategy better.
  • Data is only as good as the ‘better’ decisions you make from it.
  • Organisational agility is the true killer app.
  • Most transformations, including digital, fail because of people.
  • Indicators of digital success include: external orientation/granular understanding of the consumer journey/organisation 6 x more likely to measure ROI/staff recruitment and retention 10 x better.

Understanding digital will help organisations use talent more efficiently.  Today’s reality with disruption and fragmentation in a digital world is that a bigger skills toolbox needed.  Career paths are now complex and career norms include ability to change, learn and manage role fragmentation.

Key skillsets required from Marketers for talent:

  • How the strategy is put together.
  • Understand the wider Business Agenda/be business literate.
  • Talking to others in business.
  • Define mission-critical abilities.
  • Rhythm First, Structure Second.

Organisations that do this will more efficiently use their talent. They should also consider the approach for talent:

  • Be positive, not to be risk averse, and forgive failure.
  • Recruit from within and finding that these keen recruits are stepping up to fulfill what is expected of them. This can be for different business services or within marketing, for example companies should train those who have worked in Media and Marketing into Procurement.
  • Understand that employees are not just motivated by money, but 3 big factors:
  1. A sense of team and community.
  2. Company values that are aligned to their own.
  3. Need for constant learning and development.

Lastly, to allow marketing to succeed marketers must:

  • Articulate the role of marketing within the organisation.
  • Own the brand purpose and value.
  • Deliver the voice of the customer to the organisation.
  • Co-create with technologists and consumers.
  • Iterate…and iterate again.

So, to answer the question – Are Marketers Losing their Power? No but only if they are more agile. This is complicated further as marketers must be heard within the organisation but using this will help demonstrate and achieve marketing’s full potential.

See here for the video

Feel free to ask any questions or comments to know more.


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