Getting brand and demand to work in harmony is our industry's biggest challenge

Balancing your Byron Sharp with your data freakery can help bring peace to a media eco-system that is at war and in urgent need of change, Nick Emery says.

As we begin our annual journey to Cannes, we go with every business in the world at war with itself.

The war is between the ecommerce, acquisition, technology, brand and channel teams and the battlefield is data – who owns it, interprets it and what actions are driven from it.

The path to growth is increasingly a short-term one, with acute investor demand for short term sales versus long-term sustainable brand growth. 

The mechanisms for defining success within an organisation need to change if this war is to end. 

We need to create a model with a shared goal designed to reward collaboration and the collective interpretation of the data – harnessing the single source of truth to drive both sales and brand growth, rather than bending it to one conclusion.

If we don’t do this, we face optimising ourselves into oblivion.

The current battlefield is fertile territory for consultants to create factions within businesses and propose audits in place of actionable and successful change.

When activity replaces achievement, little good results.

The only way to win this war is a deep and wholesale change in the business and the marketing departments – with reflective change across agency partners, many of whom are already working with the next generation of businesses born in the digital age, which operate in this singularly focused way.

New models require trusted and verified ventures between agencies and clients with data shared and actioned in one team, every day.

To do this requires agile minds and organisations coupled with modular ways of working and no silos or factions at either the client or the agency – an open architecture focusing on choices not complexity.

Fix the internal challenges and focus instead on driving growth.

Or put another way, find a peace treaty that works and that is mutually beneficial so that all sides prosper.

There are some easy ways to embrace a synchronous "brand to demand" way of working.

Here are a few starters: 

  • Do you have a CEO/CMO (and Board) that understand brand and performance? Who can build a brand in the old world and a build a brand in the world of Amazon and activate first-party data?

  • If they understand both brand and demand, do they have the experts across all channels under their control, rather than fragmented across the organisation?

  • Is there one e-commerce department, not five different units, talking to Google or Amazon?

  • Is your company re-organised around the customer journey in all its aspects and holds a belief in through the funnel and down the pipeline?

  • Do you have one team, fed by the data, acting on the data and adapting products and services? Remove silos. Don’t have retail sales, online sales, etc.

  • Do you have one view of success and one ROI and analytics team? It all starts and ends here.

  • Redefine success. Enable simple, accurate measurement. Allow testing to thrive without the boundaries and select the tools best enabled to help you disseminate it throughout your organisation.

  • Are you ready for 50,000 ads a month? Iterate your content and your message. Of you’re not working in 24 hour shifts with 24-hour ideation, you will be soon.

  • If you’re not planning based on peoples’ emotions, then you will be soon – calibrate your message based on how hard they press the keyboard for their password or how pissed they look on their facial recognition and change the message.

  • Be OK with saying no to addressable and programmatic, but only when you have the data to say so. Balancing your Byron Sharp with your data freakery is key.

  • Don't use digital as a short-term sales driver only, understand the different channels and focus on how to build long-term engagement along with sales and then track the brand performance over time as well as the immediate term.

  • Do you embrace technology with the accompanying change in process and new talent required to operate it and the inputs they often need? Otherwise you just have a shiny expensive and largely useless box.

  • Love change. The constituency of your team and the nature of your product will change every quarter.

  • Be clear on what you want to in-house and why.

  • Do procurement for marketing and communications report into marketing?

  • And most importantly – of all the audits you may do, audit your own people first – there is nothing more depressing than a bad boss. If you want the best agencies to work with and the best clients to appoint you, then pick the best yourself.

Nick Emery is the global chief executive of Mindshare

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