As the world takes a collective covid-breath, I wonder whether businesses have taken the time to ask their customers what they really want in this brave new world. In marketing, too often it is inertia that fuels our assumptions of what our customers want, the answer always seems to be cheaper products, or faster services and while neither are wrong, I can’t help thinking we are not listening hard enough.
Are you listening?
Over the past few years we have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the world’s most famous brands like Barclays, Network Rail, Hunter Boots and Legal & General and when asked what they want from their marketing partners, there is a predictable sharp intake of breath. Marketing in this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Changing and Ambiguous) world has become so complex and difficult that the average tenure of most CMOs is now only around 3 years and shrinking.
The first response I got was ‘make technology simpler’. A wry smile accompanies this answer: “What I mean is, technology is changing so fast and with new solutions coming onto the market almost every day the number of choices I have to make is bewildering. I need a solution that not only accommodates me and other communicators immediate needs but capable of supporting us in the future. I want to work with providers whose vision is clear and aligned to ours. This means selection becomes less about ‘a complicated box-ticking exercise’ and more a clear alignment of strategy.” Explains Davinia White, Senior Brand Manager from Network Rail.
To illustrate this point, according to chiefmartec.com, in 2017 there were approximately 2,500 martech companies to choose from, all claiming their solutions will help automate processes or improve productivity, now there are more than 8,000 solutions to consider.
Then another marketer said: ‘more time’. “I think we can all agree marketing is transforming at such a pace it can overwhelm the most seasoned marketer. So, I want more time - importantly quality time - time to think, to understand, to create, to test and to repeat. This is less about improving productivity but more about looking to work smarter.”
This is important because according to a study conducted in November 2019 by CommsCreatives* who polled nearly 450 people in the PR and Communications industry, the lack of time can have a devastating impact. 52% often or always have insufficient time to complete their work and 50% often or always find themselves ranting to loved ones about work. These are worrying statistics. And when we’re told £37billion is lost to stress-related sick days every year in the UK …we all have cause to be concerned.
The final answer I got was ‘greater impact’ – the need for their marketing to cut through all the noise. Tamara Bates, Group Head of Brand from Legal & General explains: “It’s not only about
repeating the same message time and again but ensuring your brand is flexible enough to deliver relevant communications at the right time, and in the right way across the myriad of channels. Successful marketing depends on really listening to what your customers want and then being able to respond appropriately. Having the right content is key.”
Seth Godin says: “Content marketing is the only marketing that is left.” And I think he is right, I believe it all comes back to how it is created, managed, manipulated, distributed and understood. And with the media landscape splintering into thousand digital pieces with more ways to target than ever before, it seems like marketing has become a massive content generation engine - spewing it out at a frighteningly rate.
And with this exponential rise of content, you can see why the DAM (Digital Asset Management) industry is in such a unique position. It has been forged in the fires of globalisation and digital editing, by helping brands store, find and adapt content and the need has never been greater. Traditionally DAMs have provided a relatively passive and internal service but there is a growing opportunity to do so much more.
The DAM industry is going through a remarkable transformation with even Adobe describing it as a ‘renaissance’. But the tendency is still to build ‘better’ DAMs rather than ‘better’ solutions tackling real marketing challenges. More is not necessarily better. Volume does not trump value. It is time for DAMs to realise their true potential and grow up. I believe DAMs can play an active role in helping brands identify and champion quality content, becoming a more active and holistic marketing tool.
When John Wanamaker said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half”, marketing was a lot simpler. I would argue, it is now much less than 50%. And despite the ability of many tech solutions to micro-track its proficiency, the data is often fragmented and only measuring the platform’s performance rather than the work.
And while more time, or simpler technology or greater impact all are important requirements, three letters kept coming up like dolphins for air. They were persistent in every conversation and are the cornerstone to every business. Crucially, they are the key to unlocking more creative freedom and money.
This is nothing new; ‘help me illustrate the impact of my marketing on the business’ is a familiar cry. And while many solutions claim to do this, few deliver because it very difficult to accurately attribute marketing success to any one service, product or idea.
We believe that instead of measuring the specific ROI of a technology or channel, it is better to measure the performance of the content itself as broadly as possible and over time, a clearer picture will emerge of what works.
And who better to do this but a smart DAM system? We are the natural centre of gravity for all marketing materials and already measure the adoption of assets throughout an organisation. If we then connect up to external monitoring platforms, we have the best chance of creating a more holistic picture of what content works. This is why we are designing our platform to understand the quality of content that’s in it, so we can help brands get more out of it.
So far, every brand I have spoken to is mesmerised by this ambition, but it comes with a warning - there are no silver bullets. This requires collaboration, integration and listening carefully to each other. Something, I suspect, we all need to do a lot more of in the future.
Adgistics. Making Content Work.