An Answer is Only as Good as the Question


I was asked the other day, “what does marketing transformation mean?” and it got me thinking that it’s a phrase that is often used, but rarely defined.  No issue with that, we’ve all ridden the tide of marketing norms that have hit us in recent years. Content is king, media first, digital first, mobile first, customer centric comms, CX, big data, precision marketing, data data data etc – probably all sounding very familiar. 

At Flock we define Marketing Transformation as:

“The process of reinventing an organisational marketing department and / or agency ecosystem which is fit for the future.”

Doesn’t sound particularly mind blowing, does it? But the key to the definition for me, is ‘reinvention’. We are increasingly noticing that brands are coming to us, questioning how they are doing their marketing, whether it’s set up correctly, can it be improved, have they got the right talent, and often, what does good look like.  It’s this questioning that I want to focus on. 

Getting the right question to a problem is a real challenge but as G.K. Chesterton put it, “It’s not that they can’t see the solution. They can’t see the problem.”  Here are five tips we’ve learnt along the way in Marketing Transformation.

1. Go For It

Quick wins are fine, but they rarely have impact on the longer-term ambitions of major marketing transformation.  Rather than limit your ambitions, focus on what can be achieved vs what can’t.  For example:

“Why can’t we get better results?” ask, “How can we get better results?”

“Why is our creative not very good?” ask, “How can we get better creative?”

2. Don’t Make It Personal

Try to avoid any assumptions about what you are receiving.  Don’t assume the work is poor because the talent isn’t creative, or that they are lazy or unresponsive.  One of the reasons Flock recommends an intervention over a pitch is to brush away those assumptions based on clear questions.

3. The Good Is As Important As The Bad

It’s very easy to focus on what isn’t working.  Try to start with what is working, understand why it is and see if the same set of conditions can affect the outcome.  For example, if the reason a piece of creative worked well because of a tighter deadline, try it out on the next project before assuming it’s broken.  If you do need to change, make sure that you are clear on the good, so it’s not lost in the pursuit of change.

4. Transform By Asking Questions

The reason a formal RFP is such a strong tool is that it not only focuses the client on the questions (the ask), but affords the agency time to respond with clarity in an environment that might be easier to do so. For example, we often hear complaints that, “the agency refuses to give us the agency of the future”.  There’s no such thing and never has been.  I remember in my early years in advertising being told that the reason McCann’s became the largest network was because Coke wanted an advertising shop in every country it was sold.

  • Client question – How can you ensure we have the best advertising in every market we are sold in?
  • Agency – We’ll open an agency in every market

Not, “Hey Coke, I’ve got an idea. Let’s build an agency of the future where we put a shop in every one of your markets.”

5. Stay In Beta

Transformation doesn’t end. Strong brands and agency relationships rely on a constant dialogue, constant questioning as to whether their actions are right, can be improved or need to be changed.  It’s why we feel so passionately about out Agency Appraisal Tool because we honestly believe an answer is only as good as the question.

Find out more about how Flock can transform your marketing here.

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