Marketing independence is under attack but does anyone care?

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This post is by Anton Buchner, a senior consultant with TrinityP3. Anton is one of Australia’s leaders in data-driven marketing. Helping navigate through the bells, whistles and hype to identify genuine marketing value when it comes to technology, digital activity, and the resulting data footprint.

Marketing Independence

Surprise, surprise.

When you meet with a technology vendor, the conversation invariably leads to “needing” their solution. Even though you discuss alternative business opportunities that require solving prior to any technology implementation.

Surprise, surprise.

You appoint one of the big consultancy firms, such as Deloitte or PWC, and you start down a pipeline of creative and digital discussions that can all be magically solved now under their banner.  

And surprise, surprise.  

Traditional creative agencies are now offering “consulting services”. However, creative agencies’ solutions are typically tied to recommending creative communications solutions, whether they be data-driven, digitally grounded, or more traditional in nature, in order to maximise production revenue.

What has happened to true independence?

It reminds me of the 80s as I was entering the advertising industry. When all-in-one agencies ruled the landscape, offering an expert in direct marketing, an expert in sales promotion, and an expert in the exciting new world of multi-cultural marketing.

It also reminds me of the print industry in the 2000s, who were trying to stem the rise of digital by recommending custom and personalised printing solutions to any brief, before finally investing in digital technology and trotting out a myriad of “expert digital solutions”.

Were these the best solutions for a business?

Or were they serving the interest of growing revenue for the respective service provider?

I’ll let you decide.

Bring true independence back

We believe that independence needs to be put back on the marketing agenda.

It’s time to step back from the confusion and duplication in service providers, and assess what independence really means for a business.

Lets look at the opposite of independence – dependence.

This means that you are dependent on something or someone, and that you do not have complete freedom to do what you want.

Therefore, the opposite in a business and marketing context, means that you have the freedom to choose. You are free from the control and influence of others.

So when looking for independent advice, you should demand true independence. There shouldn’t be undue influence to use the advisor’s services.

Here are 3 watch outs for marketers seeking true independent advice

1. There is no cookie cutter solution

There are many providers that trot out similar solutions, frameworks and approaches just with minor alterations for new projects.  

How do we know this?

Because we’ve had the privilege of independently assessing a wide variety of companies, and their agencies, and have seen the documents turning up on different desks.

Beware cookie cutter solutions.

Whilst of course there can be similar framework approaches and methodologies, the solutions and advice must be independently derived from each client’s unique position.

At TrinityP3 we tailor a bespoke proposal and approach to every client we meet.  We never know what is required until we get under the skin of the actual problem the client is facing.

We say this because we act on it. We don’t just pay lip service to it.

Our solutions aren’t tied to using our services on an ongoing basis. So our focus is on true independent advice. Uncovering gaps, inefficiencies, duplication, and wasted spend, as well as opportunities to harness areas that are going well.  

Often these are uncomfortable conversations that require major transformation for a company.

However, we’re not there to please with the hope of getting more business for “other specialist divisions”.

We’re appointed to help untangle businesses from a marketing perspective and add value where identified.

2. Technology is not always the solution

One of the biggest business investment areas has been in Martech.  Whether it be underlying platforms or integration of services.

However, when undergoing a tech transformation, businesses need to identify appropriate governance structures, new data and tech management processes, as well as internal capability migration.

The great promise of CRM in the 90s, social media in the 2000s, mobility in the 2010s, and now the realisation of IoT, VR, AR and other innovations, is often just that. A promise and a big fat payment by businesses to service providers.

We worked on a project recently that started as a conversation about assessing technology vendors.

As the conversation went on, we realised that little consideration had been given to the level of tech maturity within the wider business.  

We steered the solution conversation away from technology to underlying issues – structure, the role of marketing in driving business growth, internal and external capability, the realistic speed of Martech maturity evolution, etc.

And by doing so, we helped the client avert a potential over-investment and tech train wreck.

Whilst technology was indeed required, the project was a good example of determining the stage of requirement versus jumping to immediate vendor solutions.

3. Do you know what you’re paying for

The marketing and media industry is at a real crossroad.

When it comes to media management, and in particular programmatic media, the word transparency has now been well debated.

However, the problem still remains.

Media agencies and clients are not overly willing to untangle a commissions and mark-up structure that has underpinned their industry for a couple of decades now to help replace lost revenues.

We have written extensively about media transparency, and will continue to shout from the mountaintop about change. It is critical to understand the technology ecosystem – providers, platforms, networks, and inventory issues – when it comes to programmatic media planning and buying.

Especially if you’ve outsourced, and are now thinking about in-sourcing and setting up your own capability.

You need to also be clear on whether you’re focusing on a CPM or CPA figure.

If you’re looking for a greater understanding of programmatic media or require team training, then we can introduce you to relevant media providers to demystify terms like programmatic guaranteed, real time bidding in the open marketplace, real time bidding in the private marketplace, in App inventory, programmatic TV & video, ad fraud and a whole lot more. The training can be done independently of any project implementation.

The power is with you

Whilst it may be a confusing and ever changing marketing landscape that we’re all dealing with, ultimately the power still remains with marketers.

Marketers should demand true independence of advice in order to make more informed decisions.

Are you confused about the technology options available? Or need advice on the suppliers and solutions available to you? Find out how TrinityP3 can help here

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About Anton Buchner

Anton is one of Australian's leading customer engagement consultants. With an eye for discovering greater marketing value and a love for listening to what customers are really saying about a brand. Anton has helped take global and local businesses including Microsoft, Nestlé, P&G, Gloria Jean's, Foxtel and American Express amongst others to the next level. Check out Anton's full bio here

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