Are marketers in defensive mode?

Is it just me or do some marketers seem to be in defensive mode?

I have had many conversations with marketers at various levels of the marketing chain and the message I get over all is this:

“We are fine thanks. We have a clear strategy and we have delivery partners in place who are doing a great job of delivering on our strategy effectively. We have no need for new partners or any support with strategy formulation or execution”

If this is true them that is great news! I would love to learn about how you are getting it so right in all of the marketing upheaval and rapid change I am reading about and experiencing!

We should all be learning from these exemplary case studies of marketing prowess in action! It seems these marketers are not subject to the general state of marketing chaos and change that is clearly going on across the world. I would love to hear about how your brand is getting it right!

But then maybe that is just the response I have been getting because no one wants to take a positive bet on a new comer in the market, especially if this newcomer is suggesting that there are big problems in how marketing is currently being conceived, planned, executed, and measured, and that there is a big need for rethinking many of the tired old iterative strategies which run along year after year without much change. Maybe it is easier to do it this way. Keep below the radar of major change and just keep the boat rolling onwards to somewhere out there! Unfortunately you can only hide for so long. Eventually change will take hold. The big difference is that when change takes hold of you because you have avoided rising up to meet it proactively the consequences can be very serious and highly disruptive!

I am not for a minute suggesting that there are not brands and providers out there that are not doing a great job of adapting to the many changes affecting marketing practice. These brands are adapting to a new way of marketing. One which drives effectiveness through intelligence. Technology and data driven strategies which use validated information to drive decision making and budgeting as opposed to marketing strategies that are executed based on assumption and guess work.

It is probably more likely that I haven’t found the suitable engagement approach yet, through which I can uncover the real truths about what marketers are finding overwhelmingly difficult to navigate and manage. I need to work harder at presenting my potential aid to marketers perhaps?

Despite the potential flaws in my approach to business development I do feel that many marketing teams out there are not willing to see the ever widening cracks in their marketing strategies . As the c-suite applies more pressure on budget accountability and increased effectiveness marketing teams huddle closer together in unison and choose not to acknowledge the truth of what is going on around them. Change is outstripping their capacity and capability to deliver relevant strategies that take these changes into account.

Like ostriches with their heads in the sand they continue on rote to commission yet another costly TV ad or perhaps another billboard along the highway? Saying what exactly?

“Come with us and we will give you the best products out there for your needs. Our brand X is the best there is!”

Then there are those delivery partners, the agencies that are taking money from brands and making so much stuff with it! Stuff without any real strategy supporting it.

Content without strategy is just stuff, and the world has enough stuff! These providers are focussed on making creative stories and design experiences which can win awards, and they don’t necessarily care too much about whether it makes sense within a brand strategy or not. So long as the brand decision maker has said ‘go for it’ they are fine and dandy.

The problem though is that in these cases the decision maker doesn’t know what they want, and they are often reacting to uncertainty and no clear view of a strategy, without clear objectives to achieve useful or valuable return. Isn’t this what agencies should be advising these brands on? Rather than making crazy creative content because they have been given permission to do so surely these agencies should be saying ‘we can’t do that because we don’t have a clear strategy or clear measures in place to prove effectiveness.

There is a greater need for more agencies to actively seek out the strategic reasons behind creating branded content, and to become the trusted custodians of the brand narrative based on validation and strategic purpose that supports clear business strategy objectives.

Again I am not painting all agencies and brands with the same brush so please don’t take what I am saying personally. Just consider for a moment the following items before you decide to go ahead with your next marketing strategy or campaign:

What don’t we know that we don’t know about our marketing health and effectiveness?

Do we have a clear marketing strategy in place that is aligned to key business strategy objectives?

Do we have the correct agency providers in place and are they able to and willing to say ’no’ because they are protecting our brand from making the wrong creative and content decisions based on a clear reliance on strategy to determine what is created?

Do we know exactly who we are communicating with and are we creating a conversation based on their needs and wants?

Are we measuring what matters?

Is our approach to marketing aligned to the goals and desires of non marketing decision makers like the CEO, CFO and the CIO / CTO?

Are we avoiding the change that is creeping closer and closer to our way of working?

What can we do to shake up the status quo of how we approach marketing in our business?

Are we willing to try and test new methods to find better strategies that achieve better and greater returns from marketing?

I can understand why many marketing teams are defensive by nature. Gate keeping is important, especially when you have every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to get in touch with you to revolutionise your marketing approach. I understand this completely.

But maybe this defensiveness also become a major barrier to finding the new and innovative thinking that can make all of the difference to your marketing success down the line?

Just a thought!

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