If you want to be future-ready, you need the right structure, processes and talent in your marketing team. Liam Brennan and Pete Fyfe, Heads of MediaCom’s Blink Consulting, explain.
Ask a marketer who the brands of the future are, and you typically get very similar answers – Google, Amazon, Nike, Apple or Netflix.
What these brands have in common is that they both value and put the digital consumer experience at the heart of everything they do. This impacts their approach to product development, how they foster and manage consumer relationships as well as their broader comms approach and innovation agenda.
This obsession with delivering superior experiences for customers ensures these brands not only enjoy improvements to their bottom line, they dominate categories and are able to quickly adapt for new opportunities, routes to market or changing consumer behaviours.
The consistency with which the same brands are lauded for their approach highlights a bigger challenge for our industry: the table stakes have changed for what constitutes even a basic digital interaction between consumer and brand. Consumers now base their minimum expectations on how they engage with these ‘brands of the future’.
Unfortunately, despite years of gradual digitalisation, few brands outside this select few have truly set their marketing organisation up for future readiness. The gap between those who excel and the rest of the pack is significant and growing.
The truth is that unless brands can adapt to the changing digital and consumer landscape, they will continue to fall behind their current competitors or, indeed, face disruption from new competitors that have a future-ready mindset and approach to marketing delivery.
Enabling future readiness relies on self-awareness: knowing what you have; what you need to evolve; and who you can lean on to deliver a shared vision for the future. Client teams must work together as a cohesive unit to adapt to market forces and harness new opportunity, drawing specialist talent from both within their business and from external partners, in order to deliver marketing that outmanoeuvres competition and supports opportunities to drive growth.
We help our clients shape their vision for that future. Having a clear vision helps define a roadmap for the now, next and future. It enables leaders to prioritise what’s most important and mitigate the risks involved with change – continuing to meet today’s needs, whilst preparing to take advantage of new opportunities tomorrow.
We know that change can be difficult. Even companies with mature marketing operating models can struggle due to too rigid structures, misaligned performance incentives or breakdowns in the flow of information between functions, to name just three factors. Managing such details is critical to identifying the opportunities at a speed that will deliver competitive advantage.
We’ve identified three recurring themes amongst brands that are getting right (and areas that are lacking in those getting it wrong).
1. Cross-functional Integration
- Enabling processes and forums that create collaboration and better communication between functions or capability teams;
- Co-creating a single view of the customer that enables joined up, consumer-centric action (e.g. commerce, digital experience and media teams working together to manage product availability, visibility, demand, and promotion in near real-time)
- Solving integration problems at the root cause – often issues are fixed in siloes rather than addressing the overarching problem. Worst case, integration is pushed onto external partners to manage.
2. Breaking data out of siloes and making it available across functions
- To truly deliver consumer centricity, brands need to connect consumer, sales and activation data, and have the technology in place to enable access for all stakeholders to maximise value;
- Richer, broader datasets from across the business enable greater understanding of customers, personalisation of experiences, and help identify new opportunities for growth
- Consumer behaviour and data legislation evolve, and brands must build flexibility into their plans for the future, including those for facing up to digital disruption. Those with a cross functional approach to data sharing and usage will have a significant advantage when addressing the changing landscape. (e.g., 1st Party data collection and use following 3rd party cookie deprecation).
3. Talent that sees the bigger picture
- Team players who are digital first, and understand how to create value from data, consumer insight, and technology, whilst still understanding the fundamentals of marketing;
- Talent needs to be “T shaped” with a growth mindset. These people are connectors who often deliver a ‘halo effect’ improving knowledge within the organisation
- Strong ownership of capability and strategy is essential. An overreliance on third parties lowers competitive advantage and increases costs over the long term.