Managing Marketing: What keeps the CMO awake at night and why?

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Jon Bradshaw, Director of Brand Traction reviews with Darren the issues keeping marketing leaders awake at night and why these issues remain the same in the face of huge disruption in marketing and media. They discuss the focus on implementation often at the expense of strategy and the fact that in complex systems there is no best practice, only emerging practice.

Jon Bradshaw

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Transcription:

Darren:

So, welcome to Managing Marketing. Today I’m joined by Jon Bradshaw Director of Brand Traction who are helping your people, brands, and businesses grow. So, welcome, Jon.

Jon:

Afternoon, Darren.

Darren:

So, thanks for coming by and having a chat because I did my post on ‘What is keeping the CMO awake at night?’ and you made a number of comments on LinkedIn and on the post that I thought were quite interesting.

One of them being that you found the list hadn’t really changed very much in the last few years.

Has anything really changed over the years?

Jon:

No, I think that was the bit, as well as being disparaging about pointless pieces of research, I was surprised that what they found wasn’t massively different to the thing that would’ve been on my boss’s list in the 1980’s.

Everything that we’re talking about in the press, in the industry, in the business, and the work that I’m doing is about how marketing has changed and been disrupted, and has become a completely different discipline and then somebody goes and actually talks to the people who make the decisions and they’re coming up with the same list as 15 years ago.

Darren:

Yeah, it was things like marketing being aligned to business objectives and proving the return on investment. This is a conversation that we’ve been having and the industry’s been having for years.

Jon:

Back to the 1950s–sadly.

Darren:

So, it’s interesting that with all of the disruption that’s going on with technology that it’s still those core issues that seem to be the ones coming top of mind. And someone goes out and does, as you say, some pointless research.

Maybe they said, ‘of these issues which ones are keeping you awake at night?’ Maybe it was prompted research not unprompted.

Jon:

But actually I think those issues are still the issues. And I think one of the things that’s in the way at the moment is we’re confusing the ‘what does marketing do in a business?’ with ‘how does marketing do it?’

The bit that’s getting disrupted is the how. How do I find people to talk to and what mechanism shall I use to talk to them in a way that will persuade them to do the thing that I want them to do?

But all of the reasons for marketing to exist should be and ought to be and are the same. If you run a marketing department of any stature, it’s the same stuff. Which is; how do I change the shopper, consumer, customer—whatever word you want to put on the person with the money—behaviour to deliver on the outcomes of the business?

I really don’t understand why that conversation got complicated and confusing.

Darren:

I think, you’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head and that is we get so focused on how and implementation that often it gets confused with the ‘why?’ and the purpose.

Because when we look at marketing expenditure the vast majority of the investment is on implementation and only a very, very small amount is actually working things out like strategy and doing the research.

So much of a marketing person’s day to day decision making around money is implementation. And maybe that’s why it’s actually confused people as far as the changes that are occurring in implementation.

Omni-channel marketing and multiple channel integration and things like this. These are just an implementational way of reaching an audience, aren’t they?

Jon:

They are. And I gather that’s got really complicated and it’s getting more complicated as it goes on but it’s becoming the god that the marketers praying to when actually the 20% -the thinking, the strategy, the deciding what it is that we’re going to do that’s going to deliver the outcome that we want is still the most important bit.

80% of what a business does in general is about production and execution. But no one is saying or arguing that a business shouldn’t have a strategy and we should be focused on how do we move the thing down the line a little bit faster because it’s going a bit too slow today. We still herald strategy, direction, leadership as the heart of how the business organises itself and everything else assembles around that.

Marketing’s just a microcosm of the same thing if it’s done right otherwise you become the colours and shapes department and that breaks my heart.

Confusion about strategy

Darren:

But so many marketing departments are in that position. We don’t do marketing strategy at TrinityP3. We go in and we ask the marketers what the strategy is and then we work with them to make sure that they have the resources and the structures in place to actually deliver on it, right?

And one of the things that really terrifies me is the conversation around strategy. There are marketers that aren’t clear on what a strategy is. They often confuse objectives with a strategy.

We’ll say to them, what’s your strategy? ‘Oh, to be brand leader’. No, no that’s an objective, that’s not a strategy. Even things as simple as that seem to trip people up. And I think it’s because they make a leap from objectives straight into implementation and they miss the whole strategy piece.

Jon:

I agree. It’s because implementation is the bright shiny new ball because if we stick the word ‘digital’ on it’s definitely exciting and interesting because it is complex and difficult to work out and grey hairs like you and me don’t have a bag full of simple solutions that we can just deliver to their doorstep.

A lot of the money seems to be over that but it’s still arse about face. It’s still working out what to do when I’ve no idea why I’m doing it. It’s the wrong order.

Darren:

How am I going to get there when I don’t know where I’m going or the route I’m going to take.

Jon:

It’s the Alice in Wonderland department.

Darren:

So why are we in this mess? Because I have to tell you I see a lot of marketing departments that cannot clearly articulate the strategy they’re trying to implement. What they can tell me is what agencies they work with and what their media spend is and it’s all implementation.

Then the marketing strategy doesn’t link back to the business strategy and so there is this total disconnection. They do become the colouring-in department.

Jon:

They do and there’s been some really interesting kinds of study done on this around the world.

So, we’ve got the best companies in the world going “if I don’t get better at marketing I’m not going to deliver my objectives”. Half of those are going “I’m nowhere near having the capability I want” and actually delivering on real transformation and the capability of the people in their business–incredibly hard to do.

What I see in Australia rather than that kind of very sobering example that at least is staring into the issue, is people not even realising that we’ve got a capability crisis. That we’ve got marketers who aren’t being taught, trained, developed, skilled in strategy and execution, in both halves of the job.

It excites me as a business opportunity but it also worries me in that if we end up with a bunch of marketing departments that are the colours and shapes departments, there’s nothing you or I will have to offer them anymore because you don’t need me to tell you how to buy Facebook ads.

How marketing becomes a service department

Darren:

And that’s the problem, the value actually gets completely removed from marketing as a profession because it is just about implementing things, placing orders with suppliers, and making things happen.

That’s one of the things that always makes me suspect that I have a marketing department that’s not integrated strategically into the business. When they do a lot of things, but that there is no obvious structure or strategy to all of the things they’re doing.

The conversation with the head of marketing, CMO or Marketing Director will be this sense of, ‘we’ve got all this to do but we don’t have enough money or resources to do it’. Then you immediately start thinking well why are you substituting activity and volumes of doing for thinking and strategy?

Jon:

I don’t know but if you go back to the 1960s with Michael Porter’s quote about ‘strategy is what you choose not to do’. Whilst Professor Porter may not be the most pre-eminent strategist anymore I’ve still got a lot of time for what he has to say to be quite honest.

He was the guy I learnt strategy from when I was at business school and it’s about choice, right? There’s never enough money to do all of the things we could possibly do and we’ve got to pick the few biggest, easiest ones that’ll get us where we want to go.

Darren:

But if you’ve been disconnected from strategy do you just become a service provider? That’s why you become incredibly busy. I see this especially in banks, financial services companies and Telcos where the business is coming out with the pricing, the product, the offer, even the segmentation and they’re basically turning to what’s called the marketing department, which has been reduced to the promotions, the advertising department to just pump out these mass communications.

Especially in financial services and especially in Telcos this business is driving it and maybe the “marketers” are sitting up in the business and the people in the marketing department have been turned into just a Comms function that is implementation only.

They’re order takers from the business and they’re executing it against a budget.

Jon:

But no surprise when the chief technology officers using design thinking to really understand what it is the user wants and building products that are rooted in a strategic understanding of what consumers and users and shoppers want, and your head of customer experience is doing the same strategic high level work on how to manage the end to end customer journey, and the CMO is making an ad.

Guess who’s not the most important person in their conversation?

Darren:

The person making the ad.

Jon:

Correct.

Darren:

I’ve had a number of marketers this year, and it’s been a change, that have phoned up and said, ‘we’ve got to become more digital centric.’ I go, ‘we’ll what do you mean by that?’ ‘We’ve got to get technology at the heart of everything we do’. I go, ‘you realise technology is an enabler? It’s not actually a solution’.

Jon:

Unless you make laptops for example.

Darren:

Yeah, as a marketer. I go ‘so, what’s the strategy that’s driving this?’ It’s interesting because in almost every case it’s because there has been a strategic business decision to move the marketing away from promotion and brand to customer experience and customer engagement. The enabler to do that is technology.

So suddenly they’re thinking of technology as the solution to do it when in actual fact it’s a major shift in strategy. To go from brand building and traditional promotional communications and to turn it around to brand building through customer experience and customer engagement is a major shift isn’t it from marketers and a big difference in the way you apply your strategy?

Jon:

It is a big shift. It’s slightly sad that service marketers haven’t realised that providing an awesome service is probably step one in the marketing job. But it does not preclude or exclude the need to dramatise and communicate the awesome service that we’ve now designed to a bunch of people who I now wish to buy me.

The other thing I see going on all the time in this conversation, which frustrates me a little bit, is the generic use of the word marketing to include technology companies, service businesses, and product companies when, by its very nature, the marketing department inside an Uber versus a Telstra, versus a Coca-Cola, they are fundamentally different, right?

Because the mechanism by which we do commerce is fundamentally different.

So if the marketing director of Uber isn’t thinking that digital and technology are a critical centrepiece to his marketing strategy then something’s very wrong. But similarly, if we’re over here at Coca-Cola, and all of a sudden digital is the middle of my marketing strategy rather than a very interesting way of executing my marketing strategy, we’ve got the cart not even connected to the horse anymore, never mind in front of it.

The commentators who blanket ‘improving customer experience is the answer to marketing in 2010’, well no, not if you make coffee it isn’t.

There are no one size fits all marketing solutions

Darren:

No, it’s a product.

Jon:

Admittedly, if you make coffee machines, there is the interesting stuff that people like Nestlé have done in terms of blurring the lines between products and services, but that’s kind of fringe stuff that a very few sophisticated people are doing.

The bulk of people are making products and that isn’t really about customer experience journeys at the heart of it.

Darren:

No.

Jon:

There’s a whole living from those methodologies but they’re very different.

Darren:

Because there’s an intermediary there called the customer. The customer is often the retailer in the distribution channel and that changes the whole dynamic.

Jon:

And the level of involvement and engagement in the thing. I’m intimately involved in my Telco because when it doesn’t work my life collapses but I’m a little bit less involved in the kind of beverage that I’m drinking.

Darren:

Or your toilet paper.

Jon:

Correct. That doesn’t mean I don’t want it and I don’t need to know advice about which one to choose that will be the best one for the things that I want.

Darren:

But you’re not up for daily engagement with them on a deep personal level.

Jon:

I’m probably not going to follow my toilet paper company on Twitter.

Darren:

I’m not going to ask you what brand you buy.

It’s interesting because a few years ago you raised this idea, and it’s true, every category has its own requirements, right?

But you must remember, what was it 15, 20 years ago maybe more, where everyone wanted to be a Nike, and then everyone wanted to be Apple. Have you noticed that everyone at the moment seems to say, ‘we want to be Tesla’?

I want to be the Uber of……….

Jon:

Oh, Tesla. I get Uber.

Everyone wants to be the Uber of cold drinks. Really? I’m not sure cold drinks needs an Uber. Now, Uber’s the one I get.

Darren:

You get Uber. I get Tesla. Because it’s this idea you can become famous without having to do any advertising and I go, ‘well, they actually do PR, they do a huge amount of social media. They are actually marketing themselves, you realise that?’

They go, ‘Oh yeah well we rely so heavily on traditional media and digital’s not working for us. If we could just be a Tesla.’ And I go, ‘step one, come up with a revolutionary, ground-breaking product that absolutely disrupts the marketplace or the category’.

Jon:

This is the other issue we see all the time, people using outliers as the thing that everybody can copy and it’s sadly just not true. There is now so much evidence about the absence of viral, of virility in digital marketing and so much evidence that the way you get a big audience through a digital channel is by buying it.

By the way that makes it look a very similar price to traditional mediums when we get to a per head basis. Now we are just confronted with a bunch of interesting different ways of spending our money. I don’t understand why this is a conversation that’s still going on.

How come I’m not getting all the free marketing conversation when I must have been to half a dozen conferences in the last couple of years and I’ve now got a couple of books on the science of viral that says there is no viral? Thank you, Karen, by the way.

Darren:

Jon, I think it’s because people are dealing with the complexity they face by trying to find simple solutions. This whole idea of best practice; I don’t know if you get asked but I get ‘well, what’s best practice?’ And I go, ‘well, in what category, and in what stage of market? Is it a mature market, is it a growing market?

There are so many variables and what does best practice mean anyway?’

Because if you then give best practice examples the next question is, ‘well who else is doing it?’ So in actual fact they’re not talking about best practice. They’re talking about what’s the common practice in that particular marketplace? Yet all of the science of complexity tells you that there is no best practice.

In a complex market that is constantly changing there is only emerging practice. What are people doing to test the marketplace and learn? Yet marketers often seem to be looking for a simple solution to these complex problems, which is, ‘well it works for them why can’t it work for me?’

Jon:

Yeah, and you know what’s really interesting?

Whilst the transmission mechanism has got more complicated the complexity of the marketing puzzle (and the reason why I’ve always been attracted to this as a job) has been, almost from when I began working out…. how on earth to construct products and services in such a way that I can then dramatise them in a very short window of time to somebody who doesn’t really want to listen to what I’m saying in such a powerful way that I get to change their behaviour when they next get to a money-spending moment.

That was complicated enough before we made the channel thing really complicated by the fact that we didn’t have one big super channel or that we at least knew what the product looked like at the end of the day.

I don’t understand when we went from understanding that marketing was one of the most complex combinations of sciences and arts in the business pantheon to all of a sudden, ‘well, I can’t deal with the complexity anymore’ because the channel bit got a bit difficult.

If you were capable of solving the marketing channel puzzle in the first place, you’ll work out how to deal with the digital thing. If you’re not capable of working out how to solve the complicated thing that marketing is in the first place, then you haven’t got a hope in hell of working out what to do with digital.

Select your channels wisely

Darren:

I’m wondering if it’s not because we had such a long period without disruption. You think about how for my career, television right up until 10 years ago, 15 years ago television was the channel for advertising. Television’s been around since the 50s and the 40s in the U.S. so it was actually quite stable.

I’m not belittling the complexity because I think you’re absolutely right, the intellectual challenge of marketing is one of the most exciting in any aspect of business and commerce because there are the elements of art of persuasion and the science of the commerce, and the mathematics of the results that make it so fascinating.

But when people fall into a pattern of thinking of a particular marketplace in a particular way when there are major changes and increased complexity and when they start to see that the behaviours they’ve always done are decreasing in effectiveness, then rather than solving the problem what they’re inclined to do is to want to jump to what’s the next solution.

If it was television in the past and television started to supposedly diminish in effectiveness they jumped onto digital because that was the next big thing. Everyone told them it’s the next big thing. Then it was social, right?

Rather than sitting down and going ‘well so we’ve got this increased fragmentation in channels, what are the channels available to us? How can we test and learn those channels so that we can start to see which one’s right for us?’

I see so many marketers that as fragmentation’s occurred what they’ve done is ended up like a sprinkler with their budget spraying it across every channel and not really seeing any results from any of them. Big statement I know.

Jon:

I agree but it goes back to something we were talking about 10 minutes ago, which is if the art of strategy is really about powerful informed choice then it would be very surprising if the answer was an Omni-channel media strategy.

Almost every other example of good strategy we could put on the table in any discipline in business is making a few selective smart choices about the minimum number of things to do in order to achieve an outcome. I would be very surprised therefore if the answer to the media strategy puzzle is do everything in tiny little lumps.

I don’t preclude that from being an answer for some businesses in some categories because back to your point; there’s no best practice, there’s no panacea. But it would surprise me if it were even an irregular occurrence.

Darren:

Because strategy, as you say, is about what you don’t do, what you choose not to do, so, you focus your efforts in the areas that are most likely to achieve the result that you’re aiming for.

Finding a middle ground with segmentation

Jon:

It comes back to some of the stuff we were talking about earlier, this stuff Mark Ritson was talking about, the role of segmentation in marketing and I’ve found this whole topic kind of interesting.

The tension between big brands needing big regular reach and I realise reach is almost a dirty word in the digital era and audience, people who will listen to the thing I want to say and the opportunities that technology ought to provide us to be a little bit more precise in that.

I’m seeming to fall in either left camp or the right camp rather than trying to find some slightly more sophisticated middle where I get just enough people of mostly the right type in order to deliver my outcome rather than going to what we call a micro-segment, a micro-target because I’m capable of it and forgetting about the size of the objective in the first place or going all the way to now I’m just going to tell everybody.

I’m going to tell everybody the thing I’m going to say and therefore the thing I say has to appeal to everybody and all of a sudden my brand position has gone bland and undifferentiated and boring and pointless.

Darren:

I think Mark Ritson was making the point which is if you go mass, you should always focus on maximising your potential market and there is going to be a huge amount of wastage.

But then likewise if you go, as you say, to a micro-segment you’re going to waste a huge amount of effort on a very small return and I think ultimately, what he was trying to get people to think about is that for every brand there is going to be some medium ground.

If I’m sitting there at Mars and I go, ‘I want to target everyone with a mouth’, that’s fine except they’re not all going to eat chocolate and they may not all necessarily all want to eat Mars bars.

But then as Mars I have a whole range of different chocolate bars. I’ve got Snickers, and I’ve got Mars and I’ve got blah, blah, blah but if I start promoting all of them to everyone then I’m going to actually dilute the power that I have if I can find a way of segmenting it to people that like a particular brand.

Jon:

This seems to be what’s disappointing me about what’s happening between marketers and digital mediums. The opportunities they ought to provide to be able to talk to people with a higher propensity to be able to change their behaviour as a result of a message inserted into a medium.

It still doesn’t seem to have delivered anything like the promise that it ought to have done. We are still reliant on, and yes, I realise I’m going to get reach to 3 million people and only 100,000 of them are going to do anything but this is still the most efficient choice I’m left presented with, ‘because nothing else is yet working and it disillusions me a little bit if I’m honest.

Darren:

Well I think there were big promises made but the fulfilment of those has been incredibly difficult and it’s been difficult because it requires – if you want to get down to that micro-targeting, that idea of personalised marketing – that I know who you are as an individual and I know your preferences through your behaviour and things like that.

Actually, it requires a huge investment in first of all collecting that data in a way that I can identify you as an individual and then make sure I serve my messages to you at the time and place and in the format that you actually want because ultimately, the consumer makes choices.

This idea of this utopian world where we know so much about the customer and can fulfil their every need, want and desire before they even know it is actually working counter to what we’re seeing amongst consumers, which is, stop it, I’m sick of giving you all this data.

Every time I go on Facebook you learn about my preferences and what I want. I mean Facebook knows more about me as an individual than my own parents would and yet making that available to marketers in a way that they can actually start predicting my needs is a huge piece of technology, strategy and analysis to be able to deliver that.

And the question would come, ‘is it even worth it? Because if you’re selling me a chocolate bar for instance…

Jon:

Correct.

Darren:

You make 10 cents in the dollar on that if at all. Is it worth investing all that money so you know before I do, that Darren’s going to eat a chocolate bar in 10 minutes?

Jon:

I agree and again it comes back to this: lack of a panacea and lack of a best practice. Because if my consumers are shopping online and I can see and track and watch their shopping behaviours online then absolutely, yes, we should be exploiting the big data thing to find the moment when we can actually nudge them into doing what we want them to do.

That’s a brilliant opportunity for service and tech marketers who retail online.

If I sell dog food that’s not an awful lot of help.

Darren:

No.

Jon:

It’s this universal labelling and lack of sophistry in thinking that I think is one of the things that is really not helping us as a marketing community to move forward and start to go, ‘yes the problems are complicated and yes, things got a little bit difficult but one by one we’re kind of knocking them over and solving them.’

Because some of the things we have done with digital and data and technology for certain segments and certain brands is amazing.

The amount of wastage that we’ve managed to reduce from the process is genuinely quite brilliant. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with programmatic as an idea it’s just very dependent on having a bucket load of stuff underneath that a lot of spenders, advertisers and brands will never have.

Darren:

Yet, as you say, you’re in the category where you’re going to be able to use it to influence the purchase decision at the time they can actually fulfil on it.

Jon:

Which brings us right back to the start of the conversation, which is why does marketing exist in the organisation? And its job is to influence the shopping decisions of a bunch of people who we choose to have as our potential customer set. And we’ve lost sight of that altogether.

We’ve lost sight of that in our excitement for the mediums and the mechanisms, that we are the behavioural scientists at the heart of the organisation. I know that’s a buzzy, kind of cool word to use but it’s a really good way of describing what we do.

We use tech, science, data and our intelligence to work out how to change people’s behaviour. And it got a bit hard. Well boohoo, let’s think a little bit harder about things then shall we?

Darren:

I think it got hard because it became more complex. It was changes and people didn’t cope with the changes but Mark Ritson also said that marketers are distracted by digital and that if they got back to basics, back to strategy and back to ‘where is my audience and how do I engage with them to change this behaviour?’

In some ways that’s what you’re saying.

He just said it in a way that was very dismissive of digital because I think it was a way to capture a headline and challenge people’s preconceptions. He said, ‘when he looks at all the trade publications there’s like 70% that are talking about digital and 30% about traditional media saying it’s all dead and going away.

Be wary of the advice coming from vendors

Jon:

Nothing annoys me more than the TV is dead brigade coupled with the digital is useless brigade, right?

Darren:

Because everything’s hopeless.

Give up, go home.

Jon:

Well, they’re two different categories of people, neither of whom are right. Both of which are kind of grandstanding and band standing about what is frankly just not true.

Darren:

Well, they’re all selling something. This is the other thing that I really get pissed off about, that so much of the conversation in the industry is being driven by the vendors selling something. You’ve got the Russel Howcrofts of the world out there shouting in the loneliness, ‘TV’s not dead, we can still deliver an audience’ and he’s right.

Jon:

He’s at least consistent with that message.

Darren:

He’s also right for particular audiences. Then you’ve got the other side, the digital vendor saying, ‘and you need to use platform x because it will deliver a digital programme’ but at the end of it all, this advice is coming from people that are using it to sell something.

You’ve had some amazing marketing roles and you’re now using that marketing experience to help marketers deal with this complexity. But where do marketers find impartial, non-selly advice they can use to develop their strategies? Because isn’t everyone selling something?

Jon:

Well, yes, even people like me who are selling advice on how to do strategy are selling something, right?

Darren:

But you don’t have a vested interest in the outcome. You have a vested interest in the process.

Sadly, people aren’t comfortable paying for quality thinking

Jon:

You know it’s an interesting diversion, I was always really sad to see Naked not make it as a channel-neutral genuine strategic offering that looked like an agency so it made it easy for brands and marketers to buy.

The fact that commercially, for some reason or another, it didn’t seem to transpire to be a viable business model really disappoints me. Because something like that, whether it’s me or a pseudo Naked – ‘let me help you solve the complicated problem that we’re faced with and then together we can go to the media company and work out what the best place to put this is’ – strikes as a thing that the CMO should be screaming for at the moment.

Darren:

Jon, I’m so glad you raised this as an example because I will tell you why Naked failed.

Naked failed because as a society we do not feel comfortable paying for thinking. We pay for doing. Naked had some amazing thinkers, strategic thinkers that could solve any problem with enough input and enough time. But when it came to getting paid for the value that was created there, they couldn’t get the sorts of fees that you could get if you then took that thinking and started implementing it.

As soon as you started implementing it and getting paid for the implementation then the thinking is being covered by the opportunity to make the revenue on the implementation. When we look at traditional agencies, in fact, when we look at all Comms – now it’s 16 billion dollars the marketing industry in Australia – what percentage of that is being spent on strategic and creative thinking? As a percentage.

Jon:

I’m presuming you know the answer given what you do for a living. But I would not estimate it as high.

Darren:

It’s less than 1%.

Jon:

It’s even lower than I thought.

Darren:

So of 16 billion dollars we spend more than 99% on implementing.

Jon:

Are you including media money in that?

Darren:

Yeah. That’s the whole spend. All of that’s implementation. The actual bit down here where you pay.

So you start up something like Naked where we’re doing this little bit here and you’re sitting there going, ‘we can at best compete for less than 1% of the money. If we want the rest of it we’ve got to get into the implementation game to actually be able to justify getting the fees we deserve’.

And yet implementation is irrelevant if the strategy and the idea’s wrong.

Jon:

But as usual when we start trying to blame agencies for things we always end up at the same place, which is the problem isn’t with the agency it’s with the marketer, right?

Darren:

The industry and human behaviour. People talk about paying for IP and I love it when agencies bring up, ‘why can’t we get paid for our IP?’ And I’ll say, ‘well o.k. record companies, how much do you think actually goes for the IP?

Because it’s all still digital downloads, marketing all of that is where the money is being spent. The actual artist gets performing rights and intellectual property rights but it’s still a fraction, not 1% it’s a bit more. Authors, even with eBooks, the distribution channels make more money than the author does.

Intellectual property in this environment, in this world, not just Australia, but in this world is incredibly undervalued. We pay for executions. We won’t pay for the idea behind it.

Jon:

And yet in a world where the problems we face got more complicated and solving more complicated problems requires the application of more thinking intelligence something has got to change.

Darren:

Yes. Einstein; ‘you can’t solve the problems you face with the thinking that created them in the first place’.

Jon:

Also, if I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend the first 55 minutes defining what the problem was and the last five minutes on implementation. And maybe 95% of the budget should be going on strategy and 5% on implementation. I’m not sure I agree entirely with myself there. It has to change, right?

If you’re an agency, you’ve seen the scary beginnings of the Accentures, Deloittes, McKinseys starting to encroach beyond their core business strategy territory. Well look the marketing department ought to be strategic and they aren’t being and the strategic skill set is the same whether I’m solving a global mergers or acquisitions strategy or a marketing strategy.

Why aren’t you sending in those smart thinkers to do the thinking for them? They’ll just cut the planning bit out of the budget all together and people are more comfortable paying a McKinsey. That certainly is a very expensive way of solving that problem.

Darren:

Yeah it is and it’s not necessarily the right way because going back to what you said before about marketing; marketing requires that beautiful piece, the art of persuasion, the art of behavioural science, the ability to have empathy and understanding of the motivations of the human mind as well as the science of mathematics of being able to analyse data and measure success.

I don’t see a lot of creative thinking. Maybe a lot of creative accounting coming out of the big consulting firms but what they are good at is commercialising experienced people and senior people who then get basically billed on an hour.

To me the most creative, and I use the word in its broadest term, are the merchant bankers, the ones that see an opportunity and then commercialise it and just take a percentage of the value.

Ultimately, in a way that’s where marketing and advertising creatives should aspire to get to, to be actually creating things, getting someone to actually help them commercialise it and then take a percentage of it. But our business models don’t allow for that because it requires a payoff once the value is delivered not on the hope of it being delivered.

What is creativity really?

Jon:

Yeah, the use of the creative word in relation to marketing is one of the single biggest double edged swords we face as a business. Because as soon as you use it almost everybody who isn’t a marketer, and I would say 80% of those who are, leap to art, copy, creative, the creative director and the advertising agency model.

But what we’re talking about, which is the academic art of behavioural understanding and getting under the skin of consumer motivations and truly understanding what it will take to shift from one behaviour to the other.

That’s what I mean by the balance of art and science in marketing. When we get to needing to draw the pictures and tell the story there’s a creative bit as well, which I love, but let me tell you it’s 5, 10% of the marketing job and the rest looks either like a science like psychology or a science like mathematics.

Most people decry me when I say marketing is more science than art. But if the art is only the bit where we write and draw what’s going in the advertising then 90% is only an intellectual exercise.

Darren:

I came from a science background and I worked as a copywriter for 15 years but the thing I hated was being called creative. I’d say to people I’m a creative problem solver. They’d go, ‘what’s that mean?’ And I’d go, ‘if creativity is about finding connections and patterns that other people haven’t seen yet then solving the problem through finding new ways of connecting bits is creative problem solving’.

I think that for me is what is at the core of marketing because it’s first of all to your point 55 minutes defining the problem. What’s the problem facing this particular business? Where can marketing and the discipline of marketing actually help solve that problem?

Then using creative problem solving as a way of creating something new that is going to engage an audience and excite them, get them turned on or at the very minimum get them to pay attention for a split second while they move onto the next thing.

Jon:

We agree but I think in my utopian non-existent world I would ban the use of the word creative anywhere near the marketing department because it’s now become debased as just a little bit at the end for the work the genuine creative people do versus the creative problem solving you and I talk about.

I think my type of creativity isn’t what the CEO thinks when the marketing department says they’re going to go away and be creative. And, I would say 8 times out of 10 it isn’t what the marketing department are doing when they’re going away and being creative.

They’re going away and enjoying the artistry of advertising versus the science of creative problem solving.

Darren:

So to go back to the start because we have run out of time, the things that are keeping the CMO awake are the same things they’ve always been. It’s just that the world has become more complex and that too much time is being focused on the choices of implementation and that’s overshadowing the opportunity of strategically solving the problem of the business.

Is that a fair summary of where we’ve come to?

Jon:

I think it is. And not that we’re really in the business of solutions and self-serving though it may seem, if marketers don’t start investing more of their time and budget in better thinking we won’t get past the complexity problem.

Darren:

Because just doing a whole lot of implementation is not going to solve the problem.

Jon:

Welcome to the world where you are no longer reporting to the chief executive officer.

Darren:

Jon Bradshaw, thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure.

Jon:

Thank you.

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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