Digital media had a bashing in 2019. It was the bad guy in a battle between long-term branding and last-click performance marketing, portrayed as a bad investment and the scourge of creativity. The problem is, such fighting talk ignores the real story, which is about getting the balance right and galvanising people to measure brand efforts properly. Smart CMO’s know that there is a need to balance brand and sales-driving.
But a perfect storm of turbulent times combined with a heady rush of data meant marketeers chased short term sales – because without immediate results they feared there was NO future.
It also had the lucky side effect of helping them be accountable to the marketing cynics at board level. Often they over-invested against their better judgement – resenting big players like Google holding them to ransom to bid on their own names or lose it to their competitors.
So in 2020 let’s stop criticising CMO’s for falling into the performance marketing trap and pitting brand and creativity against digital.
The Binet and Field 60:40 brand to sales investment ratio is great – it is widely publicised but now is the time for action. In 2020 CMO’s need to be planning how to move forward with this information and make it work for their business.
Over the years many attempts have been made to get it right – until around 2009 brand and direct response teams often sat separately and worked in silos with different agencies. Then it was all about integration and silos were removed, but a more complex media and agency mix meant a lot of mixing and matching. Now data allows us to see how customers really react and it is as much emotional as functional – a mix of brand and product messages which varies by segment, category and occasion. Brand work uplifts performance marketing results and performance ads need creativity, because at the end of the day everything a company does affects how people see the brand.
Silos have long been dead. In the last few years a new era of brand and performance working together, powered by data which integrates and measures both, has begun. This new era means CMO’s need a new type of partner – one who is as passionate about brands and creativity as they are about data and performance. A team that is not siloed but has brand strategists sat with creatives working alongside performance media managers. Thinkers and doers from different backgrounds collaborating, working on both a brands future as well as the here and now with only one person at its heart the customer. To keep you centred there are 3 principles which will help you seize the opportunity analytics, customer experience design and creativity offer…
Data is table stakes – it is not what you have but what you do with what you have that matters. With so much data available there is a need for smart people to decode it, to really understand triggers in a path to purchase and emotional reactions and use it to inspire media and creativity TOGETHER.
Everything is brand – take care with EVERYTHING that you create because every single interaction contributes to brand perception. And everything means everything- the language in search – from a link click ad in social to a promotional sales poster, and if you have times when you can only afford to do sales-focused work, remember to emotionally engage.
Measure what matters – do not judge everything by the same yardstick or get lost in multiple metrics without meaning. Work out the pieces in the mix and develop them with a plan of what success looks like now and in the future. Define ideal handoffs and the long term measures that need to be tracked, and build an understanding of this information widely – with creatives and the CEO.
A new era is upon us, but uncertainty and tight times may not be over quite yet. There’s definitely a case to be made for a more holistic marketing function with respected representation at board level and proving commercial success is key to achieving this. However, CMO’s should take things a step further – educating everyone in the organisation on the relationship between marketing principles and the dynamics of trade. If we accept customer-first thinking we can all move on from the brand v’s performance debate.
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Senior Partner and Managing Director