Are we entering a new age of ‘how’ marketing?


Simon Francis

One of our clients has suggested that we are entering a new age of marketing – ‘how’ marketing. Their view is that sustainable competitive advantage may now be gained as much by the ‘how’ of marketing as by the ‘what’.

Let us explain the ‘how’ and the ‘what’, and even the ‘why’!

The ‘what’ of marketing has always been difficult.

What is my target audience? What do they need? What is my brand to service their needs? What is my creative idea? What is my communication plan? It’s difficult but it hasn’t got any harder. And, there are lots of well-trained classic marketers and agencies to do the work.

Whereas the ‘how’ of marketing was simple, but now is much harder.

How do we get everyone aligned to our strategy? How should I structure my marketing team? How do we build effective marketing processes? How do we use data? How do we use technology to enhance effectiveness and efficiency? How do we get the right agencies, how do we contract them, and get them to work together seamlessly? How do we work with the new mega-media owners?


The ‘how’ of marketing has got harder and harder, and there are less people qualified to help. Check out some of these statistics:

– 60% of brand and agency executives told a Forbes Insights report that their roles and responsibilities have changed significantly over the past two years. There is more ‘how’ than ever before.

– In a Forbes Marketing Integration survey of 1,850 CMOs, 68% put their biggest issue as integrating marketing communications. This is ahead of ‘effective advertising’, ‘digital’, ‘data’, ‘talent’, or ‘creativity’ (65%).

– 48% of marketing executives say evolving brand and agency roles are making successful collaboration more difficult.

– 36% of the stakeholders say their organisations aren’t highly effective when it comes to collaborating with brand/agency counterparts to translate a marketing vision into a targeted, cross-channel programme.

– 70% of marketers told a Flock Associates Survey they would get a 10% greater return on their marketing investment if their campaigns were better integrated.

– 31% of marketers said they would get a 20% greater return on their marketing investment if their plans were better integrated.

– 64% of marketers said their agencies were poor at collaborating to find production efficiency for the client.


Marketing teams have fragmented into numerous specialisms, each attracting new agencies. We have worked on a project with 16 global agencies and 146 local agencies. One of our clients had to rationalise 220-plus activation agencies. Globalisation has made things more complex.

Then there is marketing technology. Very few CMOs have a background in technology and experience in selecting and ‘plumbing in’ technology like DAMs, DSPs, DMPs etc. The well-known Luma Partners marketing technologies chart (below) scares many CMOs.


And then there is data. Very few of our CMO clients have a background in data and analytics either.

You can see that the ‘how’ of marketing is becoming critically important to a marketer’s success. And different companies are approaching the ‘how’ of marketing in different ways.

Many enlightened clients are creating marketing operations teams focusing on the ‘how’. Others seek help from consultancies like ourselves to get advice and practical help on some projects. And, of course, some do nothing.


Whilst each client and situation is different, we would suggest some general concepts that each client may wish to consider.

1 – What will the consumer demand of my business in four years’ time?

2 – How will I build the right marketing capabilities internally to deliver this?

3 – How will I reorganise and re-contract my agencies to deliver this?

4 – How will I build the right processes to optimise my internal and agency ecosystem?

5 – How will I harness technology (front office and back office) to liberate insight, ideas, and results?

6 – How will I use data to bring insight and drive accountability?

At Flock we have worked with clients like McDonald’s, eBay, BAT, Kellogg’s, Mondelez, Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell’s and many local national advertisers to create transformation projects that deliver the ‘how’ of marketing.

These world-leading advertisers are embracing the change of ‘how’ marketing – how about you?

[This article was originally posted at M&M Global]

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