Now, more than ever, it’s critical to focus and simplify the challenges that we face to deliver communications with real impact. As senior marketers we have a lot to think about, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed as the range of skills needed grows, new channels emerge every month and decisions can become more complex… but fortunately I think marketing can save itself by sticking with the fundamentals and the right kinds of data, and recent reading shows I’m not alone.
The first data you need is around pain and ‘jobs’
At KISS we talk most days about these two simple marketing principles and if you’ve read a few of these blogs this won’t be new to you… but it is easily lost if we’re flat-out multitasking or dazzled by the latest technology.
You need data and examples around your customers’ habits: anything you can glean about their workplaces and how they live. You need to know about the habits and facts that impact decision making. You need clarity on exactly how you serve them: what (potential) pain your service takes away for them, what jobs they need doing that your product does. If you keep those front of mind, and keep re-testing, you’ll become clear on how and where the different customer sub-groups benefit from your service. Crucially you’ll get closer to knowing how they want to hear from you and where they prefer to start the sales conversation – because if you address my pain when it is front of mind, you’ll have something precious: my attention.
The second essential – the right data on wider market trends
In my view this is the best place to start your strategic thinking about your marketing. These are of course the fundamentals of brand management and are perhaps more relevant than ever. In my experience brand management and strategic thinking are both skills that are covered in theory in marketing qualifications but are best strengthened on the job – so the opportunity is there for leaders to mentor and make these core skills even stronger in your teams. Done well, this will flow through into how we think about all channels and how we brief the ever-growing number of data specialists, social and SEO experts. As one industry commentator recently put it: ‘’classically-trained marketers need to learn more about digital, and vice versa.’’
A clear and simple strategy should help you look at the third kind of data – the mountain of analytics – and see what’s really important.
A strong strategy usually resonates well throughout the organisation and should give senior marketing leaders the confidence to show courage: perhaps by reducing the number of channels, by focusing more on building fundamental marketing skills as well as the hottest digital ones, and perhaps fronting up to the Board to say ‘’we’ve done the analysis and that new channel isn’t right for our business’’. Great challenger brands do this; as academic Dr Geraint Evans, who previously worked as a marketer at Odeon Cinemas, Virgin and Tesco put it ‘we need to stop categorising challenger brands … as digital or technology-led, and acknowledge that they are in fact marketing-led.’
Alongside the data we need Pi-shaped marketers
Ashley Friedlein of Econsultancy wrote about how senior marketers used to be ‘T-shaped people’ – leaders with a broad set of skills but a deep specialism in one area. He suggested we now need ‘Pi(π)-shaped people’ and as his colleague Richard Robinson said recently, we need these more than ever in 2019. Marketers with a broad base of knowledge including left and right-brain skills; analytical and data-driven but also understanding brands, storytelling and experiential marketing.
Senior marketers at a recent CIM roundtable agreed that whatever your product, and whatever channel emerges to be considered, the key role of marketing leaders is to use those marketing fundamentals and embed and coach others in using them.
Karen Mullins, global marketing director of HomeAway (part of the Expedia group) has spent over a decade with brands like lastminute.com and Opodo. This means she has lived through most business phases from disruptive start-ups to established businesses, all of them reliant on emerging technologies. As she told CIM Magazine recently: ‘’There is still a need for the guiding hand of the marketing core that lets specialists do their thing but towards a common goal. It’s about tying all those channels together. In the end they all do the same job, they have the same message to deliver.”
So, stick with the data and try to avoid the ever-present temptation to be across an ever-larger range of digital channels. Any marketing leader’s key income-generating task is to provide a clear, strong strategy for the Board and work with it daily through your staff: don’t let it get swamped in day to day multitasking.
If you’d like to talk to KISS about how we can help you to simplify your decision making, use the right data and develop a strong marketing strategy then contact us and we’ll help you to clarify the complex