“We’re not growing enough.”
For me, those were the four most important words from the now-landmark keynote presentation by P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting this past January.
Pritchard, representing the largest advertiser in the world, went on to highlight that despite marketers spending an astounding $200-plus billion in advertising and $1 trillion in total marketing spending, the growth rate of our collective industries is an anemic 2 percent. You don’t need to be Warren Buffett to know that’s a pretty horrible return on investment.
This is a problem for everyone involved in the ecosystem. And the first step in the path to recovery is candidly diagnosing the problem.
It’s clear that marketers are suffering from PTSOD (post-traumatic shiny object disorder), developed after experiencing too many PowerPoint presentations from ad-tech, mar-tech, whatever-tech companies promising the holy grail of the “right message to the right person at the right time.” Becoming distracted by the shiny objects took our eye off the ball. We forgot to focus on what matters.
This is why ANA CEO Bob Liodice gave a rallying cry at last October’s Masters of Marketing Conference to “Take Our Industry Back.” He helped put things into perspective again. “Marketers are beginning to rediscover their primary role, which is driving business growth.” The ANA and its board of directors have established an agenda for CMOs to lead the industry’s growth agenda and use the enormous clout brands have through the collective “power of the purse.”
So how are you driving growth for your business? Here are a few tips to make sure you can focus on what matters:
No more buzzwords
Our industry is notorious for hopping on the bandwagon of buzzwords. It reminds me of the hilarious Kevin Kallaugher Economist cartoon about stockbrokers, where one says the word “excel,” another hears “sell” and then everyone yells “sell” until one person says “good bye,” another hears “buy” and then everyone screams “buy.”
Sound familiar? We need programmatic. We need native. We need big data. All of the sudden, these buzzwords have popped up in everyone’s vernacular. While new tech is important, we’re getting caught up in the means to the end, not the end itself. I know one CMO (name withheld to protect the guilty) who was very excited to share with his CEO that they were working with an ad-tech vendor to do “people-based marketing.” The CEO’s response? “What? Well, who the hell have you been marketing to all this time?” And we wonder why CEOs and CFOs don’t value marketing as much as they should.
Shut out the noise, focus on the signal
If you are driving business growth, are you focused on the signals that matter to your business? As the saying goes, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
Too often marketers get caught up in media metrics. Are you only focused on GRPs and CTRs? Media metrics are one of several variables that need to be considered in your growth equation. Brand metrics like market share and penetration growth matter. Financial metrics like EBITDA margins and customer lifetime value matter. Have a basket of core metrics from all the key drivers of your business. It’s not all about media.
Be an investor, not a buyer
While brands are now looking to create their own data lake (note: buzzword alert), in reality they are drowning in a data swamp. Everyone has an audience to sell you. And that’s great since we have shifted from media planning and buying to audience planning and buying. But don’t just be a buyer. Be an investor. Instead of buying an audience, why not build an asset?