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As you sprint to keep up, slow down and think

15:34 on Thu, 4 Jul 2013 | Industry Comment | 0 Comments

Having sat and listened to industry leaders and one of the industry’s most recognised futurologists recently at, amongst other gatherings, FODM , it really made me think.

Until we stop treading the wheel for a few hours, take a day out to sit down and hear the stats, I don’t think any of us actually appreciate the speed of change we are all working with in our sector.

Not only is it faster than at any point in history, but it’s 'so' much faster.  A situation made even more disturbing – or exciting, whichever side of the fence you sit – when you hear what is coming next.

Things we never imagined possible just five years ago, the stuff of the most far-fetched sci-fi movies is literally just round the corner. Not decades, not years, but in some case months. 

On one hand it’s scary when you are looking to run a digital business that embraces and deploys change. 'What do we adopt next?'  'How will we keep up, there’s simply too much happening too quickly.'

On the other, we shouldn’t get too wound up about it. After all, much of what we are hearing about are merely technological advances or innovative new business channels that could be enhancing the lives of millions – ‘could’ being the operative word.

So let’s pause for a moment, take a deep breath and think about it. Everything we are hearing and reading about are in the main potential new channels of delivery or engagement. And yes, they are important if they prove themselves worthy, but we shouldn’t miss the key point here; that the fundamentals of effective marketing really haven’t changed in decades. And neither should they.

By the fundamentals I mean the ability to create a clearly defined marketing strategy that provides the roadmap for everything else you do and gives you the best chance of maximising the value of your spend. Yes, it may sound like rhetoric, but the point I’m trying to make here is that marketers and clients can get so hung up on ‘the next big thing’ that they just have to use it.

I never cease to be amazed when I hear of brand managers clutching at the latest buzzwords. “I must have mobile apps for everything”  “We need a Vine campaign “How can we use Google Glass..we must be first?” Sorry, but in my book, that’s the tail wagging the dog. 

further methodology

In my world, and the world here at planet Further, all of the above should be dropped from the conscious brain unless the strategy dictates that they could be in any way relevant as an activity. 

Year in year out vast budgets and time are wasted on buzzword-led marketing. Yes, it’s good to experiment and trial new things, but again only if they are relevant to the client strategy you are working on.

In some vertical sectors, I see companies hearing what their competitors are doing and go off and do exactly the same for fear of missing the boat on this cutting edge innovation – even if the evidence is not there to demonstrate it has been a success. The lack of thought is quite frightening.

As we see it at Further everything starts with data and strategy. Data tells us where the improvements need to be made or what scope there is in the client market. Then we engage the strategic in-house brains to define the online strategy that will perform best within the budget, however large or small that budget.

Only once the outline objectives, marketing and content strategies are conceived do we even think about and test the activities or channels that will deliver the best performance. And if one of these new innovations is proven to be performing then great, it'll be in the mix to make the final cut, but by no means a definite unless it's the best for the purpose.

Of course, no strategy is set in stone – we review our client strategies regularly -
so we shouldn’t be afraid to revise it as market or competitor conditions change, but working to a clear strategy has so many benefits for client and agency.

Importantly, we believe a strategy shouldn’t be restricted to a 12 or 24 month plan either,  but be viewed as an ongoing programme of analysis, testing and improvement informed by real time intelligence.

‘Holistic’, ‘Smart’, ‘Intelligence-led’. Whatever you care to call it, it is not complicated or frightening. Just pure old common-sense marketing delivered in an ever-changing online environment.

Time we all stopped sprinting and started thinking a little more?

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