It’s always exciting working with new clients and have the opportunity to face fresh new challenges, devise creative solutions and provide different perspectives to a campaign. Clients have understood and approved your recommendations and solutions and in turn you feel you can really add value to their business – it still give me a buzz! However with as much transparency and conversation there can still be a slight disconnect in approach – especially when it comes to what the marketing should be accomplishing for the business.
This company – like many of our trusted partner companies – believes our goal is to help our clients succeed, however we take a more strategic approach in contributing towards the long term business objective of brand building. We have found this can be overridden by the client’s short term desire and urgency of delivering marketing campaigns they task us with.
Surely we should all be aligned in our objectives before starting to work together? However the agreement of the ideals doesn’t always sit well with reality.
Marketers are consistently under pressure to show results and demonstrate proof of their ROI, therefore when you have limited time and limited funds the focus is on what achieves results NOW! The focus is driving maximum impact to show the boss, the board, the shareholders. Just get the word out! Just get their attention! Just get the customer! Just get the money in! Just do it!!!
Surprisingly this attitude is not typical to cash-poor start ups – but equally for larger organisations who also have looming targets to meet. Whilst I love the fearless attitude of just do it, you have to ask whether this is in fact a knee jerk reaction – it’s a reactive marketing mentality that will always leave you on the back foot, constantly trying to woo the customer with whatever bag of tricks they may have from money off discounts, special offers, refer a friend etc.
The vital difference is that generic marketing activity is geared for repeat business, whilst brand communications is geared towards loyalty.
Define how you view marketing
Most clients have appointed an agency as a means of promotion and getting the message out –marketing communications is viewed as a megaphone to make announcements, highlight promotions or simply create a stir. It’s a short term view that whilst effective, needs to be repeated to ensure sales, often with an attractive offer of discounts – the carrot and stick approach.
However the role of marketing needs to look more strategically and how as well as fulfilling marketing objectives does the activity suit the businesses’ overall goals – using marketing communications channels to help deliver a promise, communicate the brand story, share the company’s values. It’s a two way relationship which attracts the right clientele, grows a customer database who appreciates what you’re trying to deliver, listens and engages with customers and ultimately develops a loyal following that even after purchase is retained, nurtured and supported.
As the marketing function itself comes under scrutiny, companies are interestingly reviewing the role – with the change of titles from marketing directors to brand directors to better describe the role and the shift from marketing to brand communications. Whilst some may argue it’s a natural evolution, it’s surprisingly still not common place thinking. This approach may sound more sensible, the constraints and challenges faced by the marketer or client today may mean that they’re only interested in short term results.
Integrate the business objectives within your marketing brief
It’s impossible to expect an answer to an equation when you haven’t been given all the variables. Likewise an agency can only make decisions based on what information they’ve been given at the time – too often not fully aware of the company’s business plan and working in isolation from the rest of the business or away from other agencies.
Getting under the skin of the business helps provide a much more rounded view of how we need to work together to help the business succeed. It then helps us challenge and enhance the marketing brief more effectively to provide a solution that’s better for the company overall.
Equally the agency should be a seamless extension to the marketing team, and therefore needs to understand the pressures and challenges facing the team internally, and what they need to deliver on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis to justify their spend, but also highlight progress and development.
Play nicely with other agencies and departments
There are so many marketing communication channels to work with so naturally there will be more than one agency or department involved – or perhaps you need to view the full consumer journey and bring together those handling outbound and inbound marketing
We’ve been very lucky to work closely with other companies and departments and have found that when all separate teams are briefed from the beginning and are clear who is handling what, there is a stronger collaboration and therefore a stronger brand building exercise.
The team may have set up a wonderful promotion with a leading lifestyle title, achieved a brilliant response and now you’re left with data of hundreds of potential customers. However too often the client doesn’t do much more with it – who’s inputting this information into the company’s CRM database for further targeting or relationship building to convert them?
Therefore it’s important that the teams or departments are briefed together and works to provide an integrated campaign which complements, not splits, a client’s budget spend.
There is no short cut when it comes to success, so whilst the appeal of generic marketing may provide fast results, building a brand aligned with the company objectives will provide bigger rewards for the company in the long term.