Stretch your Marketing Dollar

After 21 years in the creative scene in Singapore, Mr. Conor O'Sullivan can safely say that he has worked with just about every kind of marketer from every industry imaginable on every imaginable campaign

However, he has seen a seismic shift for marketers in recent times. In fact, most marketers say they have seen more change in the past two years than in the previous 50, according to a poll by Adobe. Indeed, the Marketing landscape and the expectations organizations and customers alike have of Marketers have been changing rapidly in recent times.

Some of the challenges Marketers are facing include:
1.) Growing number of communication channels (Mobile, Digital, Social Media Marketing)
2.) Proliferation of marketing technologies 
3.) Burgeoning number of vendors to manage
4.) Tightening marketing budgets

On closer observation, one starts to see the magnitude of these challenges. 

1.) Growing number of communication channels
The last 5 to 7 years has seen an explosion in the number of communication channels marketers can use to reach their customers. What started out as new and exciting channels, especially on mobile and digital platforms, has become serious business, even imperative for B2C and B2B marketers to use for effective engagement with their customers. Marketing communications used to be largely static, one-directional and highly dependent on the brand has become a personalized, two-way communication between the brand and the customer. Social media has made it possible for customers to not only respond to brands but to one another as well, be it through sharing, recommending or even putting down. Marketers who are not in the correct channels, without the correct strategies and sufficient resources, will not only be left out of the conversation but also find it increasingly difficult to rebuilt their brand in these spaces. As one can imagine, the financial and human resources to manage these channels are significant. For marketers who do not have the luxury of such resources, they would have to juggle handling these new channels on top of their current responsibilities. 

2.) Proliferation of marketing technologies
“I feel more like a CIO than a CMO! I have marketing automation, CRM, listening platforms – I’m up to my eyeballs in technology!”, says a CMO in a CMO study by IBM1. The number of technologies Marketers have had to use has risen exponentially in recent times. Websites, Social Media, Landing pages, Blogs, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Email automation and Analytic tools are just some of the many technologies Marketers have had to pick up in recent years. In fact, there are even predictions that some CMOs would be directing more corporate technology spending than CIOs by 20172. Again, evaluating, procuring and managing these technologies take up precious resources. 

3.) Burgeoning number of vendors to manage
To illustrate the point of the growing number of vendors to manage, there was a time when the Advertising Agency was the main agency marketers had to work with. Then the Media and Public Relations Agencies came into the picture with claims to more specialized capabilities and reach. Soon, a flood of other agencies, including the Design agency, Direct Marketing and Sales Promotion Agency came into the picture. Of course, most recently are the inclusions of Digital and Social Media Agencies. The increasing number and overlapping natures of some of these agencies means that marketers have to spend an increasing amount of time liaising with agencies, taking them away from the already mounting workload they have. 

4.) Tightening marketing budgets
The topic of tightening marketing budgets is as controversial as it is sensitive to marketers. Few marketers ever begrudge the abundance of marketing budget. On the contrary, they are always asking for more budget to fulfill their growing and increasingly complex responsibilities. In a morbid case of "Be careful what you wish for", some organizations are answering marketer requests for more budget by the painful reallocation of human resources. Unilever was looking set to cut more than 800 marketing roles without compromising their growth. Crocs’ CFO told Mumbrella that “working marketing spend” in Asia would actually increase as “overheads” were cut. With all these news No wonder marketer confidence in APAC dipped to its lowest in a year in 2013

With all these challenges, coupled with a growing pressure to attain MROI (Marketing Returns on Investment), it is no wonder marketers are feeling the stretch.

In a talk to marketers on 21st November, 2014, Mr. Conor O'Sullivan attempts to address these issues by exploring what some organizations have done. 

More on that in our next article. 

References:
1.) “From Stretched to Strengthened”, CMO Study by IBM (2011) CMO interviewed by Forrester Research, October 2011, “3 Approaches to the Marketing Technology Office”
2.) “http://www.canadianbusiness.com/blogs-and-comment/put-the-chief-back-in-chief-marketing-officer/ 

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