The only certainty in life is change (and paying taxes). The pace of change has never been quicker – thanks to accelerating technological developments it’s expected that in in five years our technology will be 32 times better than it is now, and in 20 years it will be a million times more advanced.
This exponential change is driving not only new technology, but also changes in consumer behaviour and expectations that marketers must navigate. It is undeniable that a psychological shift in our behaviour that demands instant gratification means consumers are speeding up, and within businesses, it is marketers leading the race to keep up.
Internal expectations on marketers have never been higher. The advent of the internet has revolutionised accountability and made marketing more compelling in the boardroom through the demonstration of clear ROI. The modern marketer is now expected to be an expert in cross department working, breaking down internal silos to ensure collaboration and convergence.
Marketers today must be able to communicate marketing effectiveness in business terms, while being both strategic and practical in execution. The ability to understand and report on big data means marketers now require mathematical and statistical skills, as well as creativity and the ability to keep up to date with new technology.
Given these new demands, what are the biggest challenges faced by marketers today?
1. The Inability To Turn Strategy Into Execution
Strategy is inherently complex, but executing it requires simplicity. Research by The Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that typically strategies fail to deliver 50 per cent of their promised gains because of the ‘strategic-performance gap’ – the inability to turn the strategy into actionable day-to-day activities.
Despite the enormous time and energy that goes into strategy development, many have little to show for the effort, and the old adage is true that a strategy without execution is merely a hallucination.
2. Fear Of Complexity
The famous saying ‘no-one ever got fired for hiring IBM’ sums up many organisations’ attitude to risk. Fear of the new or unknown is rife – anything that is considered outside of the norm is difficult to get buy-in for because if it all goes wrong someone has to take the fall.
Consequently, implementing effective, game changing marketing is difficult. This is particularly the case with strategies that are based on emerging and exciting technology like blockchain, deep learning, and big data.
3. Inability To Make The Most Of Technology
All too often we hear stories of organisations that have invested in new technology but aren’t making the most of the investment – and is it any wonder? There has been a proliferation of vendors in an already a bewildering market. It is now almost impossible to carry out exhaustive due diligence, leading to FOMO and in many cases cognitive dissonance.
4. The Bandwagon Effect
Taco Bell’s Cinco De Mayo (5th of May) Snapchat campaign saw the brand launch a sponsored lens that turned consumers’ heads into a giant taco shell. It was hugely successful and resulted in 224 million views in one day.
This campaign worked because of the context, execution, and customer. However, we heard from other brands in unrelated sectors wanting to replicate the campaign like for like, which would result in less compelling content. The lure of the success of other brands’ campaigns creates a bandwagon mentality where channels are adopted with no strategic reasoning behind them.
If there’s a puppy in the bandwagon then I’m there.
5. Rigidity Of Suppliers
Many marketers are challenged by the rigidity of their suppliers. They are often bound into large networks and can only execute campaigns using the technology underpinning those agencies. There is little to no flexibility in terms of buying into new solutions that could support more personalised, one-to-one marketing.
On the flip side are the independent specialists – yet they can cause issues for marketers too. For instance, we often hear about marketers asking providers to undertake simple additional projects, but these are refused, resulting in everyone missing out on any kind of scale efficiencies.
So what does this all add up to? A virtuous cycle of change: a fast changing business environment, a change in the DNA of marketers and a change in the challenges faced by the new breed of marketer.