by Michael O'Neill
December 4th, 2012

According to a number of Fournaise research reports over the last 18 months, 70% of CEOs no longer hold marketers accountable. To make matters worse, some CEOs have a marketing department ‘purely out of tradition’ and rank CMOs outside their circle of key decision-makers. On the face of it marketing is at risk of being relegated to a support service rather than a business imperative.

The obvious response from marketers is to focus more on tracking and reporting the business impact of the marketing spend. But there is a danger with this response that the marketers will end up chasing their own tails. Instead, there is an alternative argument that suggests the solution to the credibility problem is to be found elsewhere. In an entirely different model.

In the business I work in, we are acutely aware of the fundamental changes taking place in our culture, simultaneous with the ‘crisis’ brewing in the world of marketing as brands have shifted from being to becoming.  Being is the way it used to be – as described by the past masters of brand, fixed, defined and represented by a singular compelling ‘big’ idea. Becoming means understanding that a brand is like an ‘engagement’ where brand and consumer are occupied and involved with each other. That it is reciprocal, evolving and likely taking place on multiple fronts.

As brands reflect the increasing complexity of our culture and people accept more complex brands, so we must build on multiple fronts if we are to forge a deeper relationship.  Rather than a single tightly managed message, we now engage through multiple distinct narratives highlighting various aspects of the brand. Mirroring the way consumers interact culturally and often led by them.

If marketers are to get out from under and reclaim their role as innovators and influencers trusted by top management, two lines of thinking could be of value in generating customer demand, and delivering performance.

Engagement – the arrival of the digital era has significantly changed the rules of engagement for communicators, marketers and brand developers. Engagement has become a science as well as an art. In a world where competition for attention will only get more intense, new research has shown that we need to think of engagement in multiple dimensions, relating to the social dynamic, and the importance of reciprocity. Through understanding of the ever shifting states that guild behavior, experts can map engagement footprints that ultimately diagnose and track brand performance. Measurement metrics are designed to measure intensity of engagement and its impact on the path to purchase.

Ingenuity – not to be mistaken for novelty, true ingenuity is an engine for a new model of business creativity, where marketers are no longer captive to the P’s but are the leaders and instigators of Labs where collaborative creativity ‘fires’ out a constant stream of new apps that open up to the changes in our culture, and where the office of the CMO more resembles that of an inventor than a data cruncher.

Engagement and ingenuity belong together.

We have a new appetite for experience. We are no longer a culture that prizes uniformity we cultivate a multitude of selves. Like reality TV, no-one is excluded and we can all participate, even just for a moment by an act of the imagination.

What is more important now is not marketing to,but engaging with.How do we calibrate the power of communications to influence and change behavior?

The recent Metro Trains Melbourne ‘Dumb ways to die’ campaign is a great way to connect with young people who are traditionally resistant to “scare tactic” advertising. It’s cute, has a catchy song and gets the message across. If the ‘product’ is selling safety, this clever and creative marketing approach certainly delivers impact. Will the Metro Trains experience a reduction in tragic accidents? We hope so.

In the final analysis, and there always is one, the data will be mined, and the results will be out. The world of inspiration, where answers are found in unexpected places, is without doubt more challenging to quantify, yet its impact can far outweigh the safe bet of conventional thinking.

Adrienne Bateup-Carlson is executive vice-president, China, at Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG)

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,
To receive our updates: