The process you need to make marketing more strategic
In the famous film-set phrase ‘lights, camera… ACTION!’, most of the focus is stolen by the last bit. ‘Action’ is the exciting bit, the bit we see in the cinema. ‘Action’ is where we see the drama, the tension, the romance, the car chases and dramatic explosions, the superheroes swooping in to save the day.
The ‘lights, camera’ bit gets a bit overlooked. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we know you need those things to make the movie, but setting up lights and cameras sounds a bit fiddly and technical and complicated. Show us the good bits now!
Marketing can suffer from the same problem. What our audience (our stakeholders, our sales teams, our boards) want to see is the end product - and the box office takings. They’re not interested in the behind-the-scenes work that gets there - and that’s fair enough.
But it’s a mistake when we marketers fall into the same trap, focusing only on the last bit of media campaigns - the tactics, executions, activations - because that’s where all the KPIs live.
Of course they’re important. But - to really wring the neck of the metaphor - this is a bit like only concerning yourself with which theaters your movie’s going to be shown in, without asking the big questions about what kind of film you want to make in the first place.
To get the best results from marketing campaigns, marketers need to think beyond tactics that are tied to old-school media KPIs (Click-throughs, conversions, social metrics, site visits and so on and so on…) and instead think about solving strategic, business-level challenges. Things like attracting customers with a higher lifetime value, reducing churn, connecting TV campaigns to offline sales, rethinking supply chains… The big stuff.
Making a marketing smash
Here’s the good news. Getting there doesn’t mean spending a load more budget on expensive new bits of tech and realigning your tech stack. (In fact, the sheer number of things in most marketer’s stacks is part of the problem).
But the bad news is, it’s not as simple as just plugging in a piece of equipment and pressing go.
It’s about process. And where film directors say ‘lights, camera, action’, marketers need to think ‘connect, discover, action’ to get the best end result. This is what it looks like:
You need to know what data you have and then you need to bring it all together, breaking your first-party data and your media-generated data out of their silos.
That might mean building better channels of communication between your business intelligence data-holders (sales, customer service, finance etc) and your media-intelligence people. Or it might mean building a data lake where all your data can sit ready to be analyzed.
Once all your data is in one place and accessible, you can start uncovering its secrets. Data scientists and analysts, armed with the best in artificial intelligence and machine-learning can jump in and start finding insights based on the things that matter (rather than just what’s easiest to measure).
This is why the ‘connect’ stage is so important. Your first-party data can show you who your most valuable customers are and your media data can show you what they look like, what influences them and how to attract more of them.
Once you’ve got the insights, only then is it time to get to the good bit and shout…
At this stage, it’s all about having the right people (expert traders) and tech (connected trading tools) to turn insights into action.
At a tactical level, this will help you make smarter media decisions, so you’re buying ads in the right place at the right time, based on segments based on things like lifetime value and how likely someone is to convert.
But more importantly, it means marketing can drive business strategy. It means when the business wants to know where you should be opening new stores, or what countries you should be expanding into, or what new products you should be developing, it’s marketing that has the answers.
And the Oscar goes to…
Well, that’s probably a bit of a stretch. We can’t guarantee an Oscar win… but connect, discover, action is the process at the heart of what we call Marketing Intelligence - a better connected marketing approach that means agencies and marketers can get high-performing programmatic campaigns fuelled by analytic insights that deliver against strategic business objectives.