Lesley Weiner, from the Association of National Advertisers’ public-relations agency, just sent over ANA CEO Bob Liodice’s top-ten list of changes his team expects to affect the way marketing programs are planned, created and executed in 2007. I think the ANA did a great job calling out the most important transformations, though I disagree with some of the positioning and summary explanations. Here’s the list, along with a few comments from yours truly:
1. Consumer in Control: Marketers will abandon their historic ‘command and control’ model of brand building in favor of a truly interactive dialogue with consumers.
Max’s take: The ANA’s headline is wrong, while the summary is correct! Consumers are more empowered than ever, and marketers no longer have the monopolistic control they once did. However, marketers still have a tremendous amount of control over the things than really matter: respect for customers; quality and relevance of the products; innovation; and customer service – factors often inherent with “truly interactive dialogue.” Sorry, it’s time to stop blaming everything on “consumer control.”
2. New Agenda for Agencies: Agencies will be turned on their heads, with their efforts increasingly tied to client-brand performance.
Max’s take: Agencies being turned on their heads will be contingent upon marketers who actually have the guts to do the turning.
3. Hail to the Chief: The chief marketing officer will rise in stature as a C-suite player.
Max’s take: I’ll believe it when the industry reports start showing CMO tenures increase, and marketing decision-making power ceasing to gravitate toward the procurement department. I hope this happens, as my job depends on it!
4. Unconventional Outreach: Marketing will increasingly work to break through media clutter, consumer multi-tasking and the growing cacophony of marketplace noise.
Max’s take: I agree 100%, but think the ANA should rethink how it’s positioning this trend. The usage of statements like “work to break through media clutter” versus “work harder to be relevant and respectful” is telling. Elusive consumers are partly a byproduct of proliferating choice, but that elusiveness the ANA describes is amplified by a large community of marketers which continues to fund and fuel mass intrusion. Is it not a tragedy of the commons, contributing to the transformation of our shelf-space economy to an attention-scarce economy?
5. Media Buying Metamorphosis: The old, antiquated ways of media buying and selling will be transformed.
Max’s take: Agree, now get ready for auction-based systems to become more widespread, and sophisticated, democratized media-marketing dashboards to gain traction, with Google becoming a bigger player. The powerful new toolset will make small, nimble companies more competitive than ever.
6. Let the Fighting End: Government policymakers, consumer advocacy groups and brand marketers will begin to find common ground, and align business goals with public policy needs.
Max’s take: This is probably more of a desired outcome. Consumer advocacy groups gain influence in a world of democratized voices. I think, if anything, marketers will have to bow down somewhat.
7. Organizational Overhaul: The marketing organization will undergo a top-to-bottom reinvention, providing better professional education with a focus on enhancing creativity, strategic alignment and brand stewardship.
Max’s take: That’s what needs to happen. The successful companies will see to it.
8. Research Renewal: Marketers will insist that macro measurements, marketing mix modeling and brand performance research become far more relevant to critical brand accountability goals.
Max’s take: Reading between the lines, the measurability of search marketing and the Internet will create expectations and thirst for measurability elsewhere. Because short-term, direct-response tactics tend to be most easily measured, we can bet that’s where much investment will go. A gap will grow in the area of traditional brand advertising, independent of effectiveness, simply because it’s harder to measure and tie to a sale.
9. Blow up the Back Room: Archaic business systems and back office operations will be overhauled to lower costs, increase efficiencies and redeploy non-working dollars to hard-working, productive investments.
Max’s take: Halleluiah!
10. Continuous Marketing Reinvention: This will become the mantra of marketing executives and the cornerstone philosophy for successful brand building, integrated marketing communications, marketing accountability and the marketing organization.
Max’s take: This makes sense. The biggest challenge could be just keeping up with a fast-moving landscape. The next challenge ties back to the ANA’s second prediction, “New Agenda for Agencies.” Agencies are often critical partners in executing marketing and advertising programs, but they’re among the least innovative players. Heck, agencies are among the only industries which don’t have R&D as a budget line item!