Marketing needs to evolve into a fully integrated role – it should own the customer experience, embrace technology to meet customers’ digital requirements and have a seat at the boardroom table to drive and influence product development based on marketing insights. This was the key take-out from a BrandQuantum marketing round table held earlier this year to debate the role of marketing in today’s digital business environment.
Other issues discussed at the round table include the fact while digital isn’t new, several marketers are still grappling with it, and in many instances, it remains a separate function from the marketing department. Marketers agree that they lack the knowledge and skills to use digital tools and technologies to their advantage and need to upskill quickly if they are to own the customer experience.
Customer experience, which is critical in giving businesses the competitive advantage, is a complex phenomenon that is greatly influenced by every customer engagement at every touch point. With so many touch points throughout an organisation, consistent brand experiences that are not diluted are crucial.
Companies must adapt to the new business landscape, which is driven by customers’ requirements and regulatory changes. Organisations have restructured accordingly, and marketers believe that an integrated marketing approach has to be adopted to respond to customer needs quickly and deliver a consistent customer experience.
A key challenge for marketers in larger organisations is legacy issues – traditional processes and systems that prevent change, as well as time frames that do not allow for long-term strategic planning.
Smaller organisations may have the advantage of having teams in place to meet customer expectations and keep up with the latest trends, but they don’t have the brand strength to help them overcome potential hurdles they may encounter in building the brand reputation.
Macro-trends such as the Protection of Personal Information Act, privacy issues and data protection present new challenges to marketers, who need tools to help them to be nimble and compete against local and global organisations.
THE BIG TAKE-OUT
In a changing business landscape, both the marketing department and the chief marketing officer need to redefine their roles and gain a deeper understanding of the technologies available to them to build strong brands, with consistent messaging across platforms.
Adding to this, marketing departments are under pressure to demonstrate their value to the organisation. Today’s marketers are being asked to marry marketing with sales functions and put measurement metrics in place to determine their combined output and the contribution to the company’s profits. In some instances, the role of marketing heads are shifting to that of chief growth officer and they are held accountable for the company’s sales success. With the right tools in place, marketers will be able to pull metrics that analyse their activity and show the success of various initiatives based on these metrics.
Brand remains a critical component of the success of the organisation, and while marketing is under pressure to deliver immediate results, its real value will be seen only in three to five years on the brand scorecard. Marketing’s success should be measured by customer experience over time and not just by the company’s profits.
In organisations where marketing has a seat at the boardroom table, marketing insights drive and influence product development and determine how the company moves into the market, effectively positioning the company against its competitors. A brand’s values remain critical to driving a company’s success. For this reason, marketers believe the greater the brand trust and love the greater the impact on the income statement.
Equally important is having employees buy into the brand and the company culture. Often larger, established organisations have an advantage over newer or smaller organisations, as the culture is already entrenched, and potential employees buy into it when applying for a position to work there. But it is important for both large and small organisations to take their employees along on the journey of building the brand and providing them with the right tools to deliver according to the company brand in all customer interactions. After all, if a company doesn’t pay attention to the smaller details, how can their customers trust them to get the more complicated things right?