Planning Integrated Marketing Structures and Resources for the Future

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Most clients of course want enhanced marketing effectiveness and marketing efficiency, but many do not know how to move from what they have, to more effective and efficient structures. They are, as a senior member of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) said to us recently, caught “like rabbits in the headlights”, paralysed by effects of the on-rushing digital juggernaut.

Faced with the requirement of lots of changes, some marketers have failed to keep up, and have not integrated digital, social, SEO, and mobile capabilities. Others have given responsibilities to existing agency resources who have not had the requisite skill, and these marketers have had poor results. Most marketing companies, however, have created new departments, added new agencies, and added new “bits” to their processes. But, many have not taken anything away, cut old activities, or simplified processes. So, now they may have fifteen internal departments, twenty agencies, six consultants and a fractured process, and the whole bloated marketing ecosystem is costing a fortune and not functioning well.

When marketers and procurement ask us what to do, we tell them to really focus hard on where their consumers are going, and let the consumer drive the resources they need. If you have a clear picture of what consumer will demand of you in three years time, you can build structures and resources around it. If you start with your current structures and resources, you are probably destined to be forever behind!

Working with our clients we look into the mid-future and map out for them where their consumer will be, what marketing resources and capabilities they will need, in what structures, and what agency resources they will need to win. In performing these mapping exercises most clients realise just how much they need to change, but also how wrong their marketing ecosystem is now. The secret is to get the client structures, capabilities and resources right. The agencies can match up against these, but an agency system cannot work effectively with, or compensate for, a poor client structure.

We have listed some of the common issues and opportunities that we see, to help you consider whether you too, should review your marketing ecosystem; both internal and external.

Global. Regional. Local.

There are perennial squabbles over who should do what, at the Global, regional, and local level. Mostly decisions get made for political or cost reasons. How often is the consumer and the effectiveness of communications truly used as a driver for the decision for what rolls up to a regional, or global HQ? Not often enough, is probably the right answer! We can relate a very amusing meeting when seven local Marketing Directors were arguing violently with their regional headquarters that their markets were completely different and NO regional marketing was possible. We took a coffee break. We asked the marketing folk to tell us what the top films were in their market – all the same, top TV shows – all the same, top competitive brands in their category – same, what the top search engine was – same, and so on…..the truth is the digital world is an increasingly “flat world”. It is interesting to look forward even a short period with the trends we have seen, and predict the convergence of technologies, media, creative trends, cultures and so on. Whether we like it or not, we may be becoming more alike, than different. Marketing resources may need to increasingly reflect that.

Should strategic brand planning live “in house” at a client, or an agency?

Many clients, like Coca-Cola and Diageo, have strategic planning departments within their own structures, working alongside agency planners. Has the time come when with so many channels and routes to market, that strategic brand planning should be “owned” fully in-house? The argument for this includes that the client planner can see and more readily understand all aspects of the brand including sales, has access to all available data-sets, is independent of any creative work or fees, and has authority to inform briefs across the full marketing ecosystem. The answer against this arrangement often comes down to “skills”, with many presupposing that agency planners would not choose to work away from an agency environment, and the closest of proximities with creative teams. Also, some say that an external planner is more objective, and draws upon other external perspectives and experience, that is to the clients advantage.

Marketing data.

Do you have a plan for marketing data? Who has got what data? How do you get it all together? What do you do with it all? What is the benefit of all the data and the insight it provides? Who should do this work? Can you really outsource responsibility for data? Do you need a full time marketing technologist? What is the role of what was called the IT department? If the marketing research department are not the people managing data, what will they do in the future? These are just some of the questions that should be being asked now, but unfortunately often are getting ignored or getting compressed into short term tactical requests like “I want a dashboard!”

Who should create the Digital and Creative strategy and the delivery of an “organising idea”?

An organising idea is the term that we use to describe the core creative idea, the idea platform, or participation platform, that drives all creative communication. Often we see digital agencies than can produce great assets and great content, but lack the planning “weight” to develop brilliant brand communications. And, vice versa, we find great planning and creative agencies that simply cannot produce the digital assets and content required. But, it is clear that these digital and “traditional” media are converging and a positive decision of how a client wants to manage the transition from the old marketing economies to the new digital world is required. The British Airways pitch (the results of which is due this week) is a review where these tensions are to be resolved for the client.

Mobile is not a media or a department.

We talk a lot about solutions that are “Purpose led, Social in, and Mobile Up”. By this we mean everything we build for our clients should be built mobile up – for mobile, and of mobile. It does not matter whether it is a creative digital solution, or a data report – all should be built mobile up. Mobile touches everything. Remember digital? Everyone built separate departments and agency resources for it, and now have one hell of a job reintegrating back into the mainstream work of marketing. Remember Social? Many marketers have done the same as they did with digital – create a new department, with new agencies. And, now they have to integrate Social back into the mainstream. So, what about mobile? Are marketers really going to make the same mistake again?

Content Production Resources.

In years past marketers made a few bits of content a year. Often this was primarily driven by advertising, and many structures, measurements, and resources were aligned to deliver “campaigns”. Modern marketing is content intensive, it is about being “on” 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This requires lots and lots of video, lots of still images, lots of “gamified” apps and widgets on social platforms and the web. The old structures for “campaigns” just cannot create enough content, quick enough, at the right price. We see the need for new and different content production resources.

Should PR and Social Media departments, resources and agency capabilities be brought together?

Let us face it, PR and Social Media have a lot in common: both at their heart are all about listening to public sentiment, and trying to influence opinion, via “earned media”. It would seem to make a lot of sense if the two disciplines became one. One department at the client side, with one set of measures, with a common set of content plays, with one agency support structure where required.

Or, should Customer Relationship Management (Direct Marketing) and Social Media come together into a consolidated structure, resource, and agency system? This too has many merits. Ultimately, both CRM and Social Media must come together to give you a common view of the consumer, with one record of who they are, and how they behave. Both CRM and Social are migrating to 1-2-1 conversations with consumers using many of the same analytical skills and copywriting skills.

And, what about SEO? Surely SEO should be integrated into every discipline, but where is its natural “centre of gravity”?

At Flock we believe that by looking very hard at the future consumer, can help tackle the issues above, help you reduce, simplify, focus and optimise your marketing structures, capabilities, processes and resources. If you fancy a gaze into the future with us, give us a call.

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