By Thomas Webster, SVP Growth at MediaMonks
In my 15 years in the advertising world, I’ve found that one adage rings true: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The saying concerns those who are set up for failure because they have limited tools or too narrow a vantage point to deal with the challenges before them.
In the past year, brands have been dealt with a new, complex blueprint to build a foundation for success. Old strategies are no longer effective: there’s a diminished return on out-of-home advertising, no large gatherings allowed, and in-person events have evolved from venue booking and catering orders to developing virtual broadcasting platforms on the web. As brands seek to continue transforming at speed, they require a new set of tools to build a structure that will withstand shake-ups in the digital landscape.
Tape Measure: Find the Shortest Route to Value
In my previous role at VICE Media Group, an organisation that pioneered and helped evolve advertising within the new media landscape, I’ve participated firsthand in helping brands achieve success by delivering meaningful content and activations that meet audiences where they are: online. But now, that ecosystem has grown exponentially in speed, scale and pervasiveness—making it difficult to determine where you should begin.
The past year has been an enormous game of catch-up for brands who relied on consultancies that spoke of “digital transformation” in abstract terms. They spent their time consulting instead of doing, amounting to a slow, lengthy process. But rather than imagining a large-scale reinvention of your existing marketing strategy, instead, prioritise tangible ways you can show up for audiences at speed. Maybe that means a cosmetic brand leveraging its retail makeup artists as beauty gurus, or a fintech brand lowering the barrier to smart financial planning in a time when consumers need it most. This will look different for every brand, but the lesson is the same: focus on content and experiences that deliver the most value.
Bolts and Screws: Hold Your Digital Ecosystem Together
Once brands have identified some impactful ways to show up for audiences, they’ll want to connect those experiences together into a consistent, holistic digital ecosystem. But this is also where so much of the challenge to adapt comes into play.
Industry decoupling began as a trend to give marketers and brands more control, but it also created a fragmentary landscape. With so many vendors and service partners on the roster, it became more difficult for brands to offer consistency across the growing volume of content and digital channels needed to engage today’s audiences.
The solution? Consolidation: in building more comprehensive digital environments, brands will again seek out a one-stop-shop that can cater to their different needs in one place. This means that while brands seek to develop more lasting relationships with audiences, partners must also build deeper relationships with brands, building efficiencies wherever possible across the entirety of a brand’s marketing needs.
Level: Keep Your Focus Through Measurement
For brands to remain flexible and adapt to changes in the future, measuring results becomes key. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking about digital ROI strictly in terms of converting a sale—those days are past. Instead, consider how digital contributes to building the brand and strengthening the consumer relationship. If you’ve heeded my advice above on the tape measure, you’re already on the right track.
An end-to-end scope as mentioned above is also beneficial here, helping you gather important insights from across the consumer journey. This lets you better understand how user behavior on one channel or touchpoint may impact another. From there, you’re better equipped to act on new opportunities at speed.
These goals should each offer brands a more tangible plan on how they can transform to meet consumers in a new era. Trade-in your hammer and old strategies for a new set of more effective and nuanced tools that will help you better prioritise and build toward digital experiences that your audience needs most with agility. And while no transformation is overnight, aligning insights and creativity across your marketing efforts will prove valuable in showing up meaningfully for your consumers wherever they are online.