“Our expectation from you is simple – Always have a point of view. We want you to bring in a fresh perspective about our customers and at the same time understand our business. The day you stop challenging us, is the day we start scouting for a new agency partner”.
That might sound like a line from a marketing textbook or a cliched modern version of Mad Men to many of you, but I did hear this coming from a CEO’s mouth right before he shook hands to start a new partnership. It was and continues to be followed through.
And, mind you, their marketing approach was as traditional as it could possibly be.
Deep relationships today between a business and its marketing agencies might be rare, and that is why we need to shift back a bit and focus on the bigger picture. The relationships can get stronger only when we understand what is the divide, why is there a divide at first place in approaches to marketing?
Let’s dive in!
The question is this: Why do certain people approach marketing in a way that seems alien to someone coming in from the other side – ie digital first?
Understand the business and the role marketing plays
It would be worthwhile to view the last many years as colliding of two worlds that operate with a different mindset.
The Traditional Business
Start by looking at the top advertisers list across the world. Chances are many of these would be big CPG, Automobile & Retail companies. The very basis of their business model is selling to masses.
Now that would relate to appealing to a very large set of consumers, and in turn that is what is expected of say the entire marketing division. The masses are traditionally been reached via offline mediums.
The very business nature of these companies makes it important for the marketing plan to be most effective to the median of the masses. For example:
a) A television commercial that appeals to the median
b) The choice of media which gives them the largest reach
c) A trade and shopper marketing plan focussed on where the masses shop
The Digital Business or Early digital marketing adapters
A big power of a D2C business is that it speaks directly to a niche audience it has identified through the same marketing principles of STP. The digital medium allows them to reach out to these audiences, build brand love, ultimately acquire them and keep them nurtured. This is done by digital data and signals which constitute their deep understanding of their customer base.
For someone coming from this part of the world, it is obvious that marketing is always on – 24 by 7 by 365 days. The customer feedback is instant – are they engaging with you, are they considering you, at which stage they are making an actual purchase, and whether they are ready to be your brand advocate?
“The very fundamentals of the business model of a company can dictate the role of marketing or how it leverages new technology. No wonder people who have been closely associated with or part of a type of business, tend to approach the whole of marketing in a different way.”
Now they might grow so much to a point, that they are posing a substantial threat to the big companies in a particular category. They soon understand that if they want to go big, they need to expand their reach, and open up a bigger market. At that stage, they might consider that it’s now the right time to invest in reaching beyond the digital media has to offer.
The World’s Converged ( or let’s say they are converging)
The very fundamentals of the business model of a company can dictate the role of marketing or how it leverages new technology. No wonder people who have been closely associated with or part of a type of business, tend to approach the whole of marketing in a different way.
Increasingly we will see, the best type of marketing driving business success is one which has the right strategy and pool of skill sets to orchestrate everything the ecosystem has to provide.
Next time you seem to get into a clash of mindsets, step back a little and look at the bigger picture – of the business model, the transition the organization is making, and the journey the person you are talking to has made in his career.
The views expressed in this article are personal, and not necessarily those of the author’s employer.