The expanded role of marketing

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The marketing function has changed along with the fast-paced evolution of technology. As an organisation evolves and specialises in different capabilities, it becomes difficult to maintain a structural marketing strategy without getting lost among the technicalities and vices of each discipline. In times of extreme competition, managing each channel with professionalism and dynamism is the key. The most important factor, however, is not to lose focus of the foundational stone of the marketing discipline: the consumer.

The challenge of making sense of the increasingly diversified communication channels

Innovations in technology have transformed the way consumers interact with brands. The continuous evolution of digital devices and channels has radically increased the number of touch-points with consumers, who also expect an increasingly personalised and dynamic relationship with brands. This implies the need to generate more and better content in less time.

Additionally, the new channels have their own rules, communication codes, and technological requirements, which lead to the development of new disciplines and fields of knowledge. While 10 years ago, marketing budgets were still categorised between ATL and BTL and the digital marketing area was taking autonomy, today, this department responds to, among others, the tasks of media management, web, e-commerce, CRM, and social media. Even the latter has multiplied into teams that specialise in listening, community management, consumer service, and influencers, who also differ depending on the network they manage: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok, just to mention a few.

The challenge: Stay focussed

In the context in which digital media have lowered entry barriers for new competitors, companies are rushing to fill their positions and join the inertia of the technological trend. In this eagerness, they expand their internal teams or seek support through external providers, resulting in an extensive network of specialised work cells categorised by channel or speciality.
This expansion of the marketing role presents new challenges. It not only demands better administration of budgets, which must cover an ever increasing number of projects, but also tests the marketeers’ knowledge, as they must arbitrate among a portfolio of disciplines, requiring continuous training in subjects that vary between creativity, data, new regulations or immersive technologies.

Simultaneously, specialisation has the risk of disintegration. When distancing from the governing strategy, it is common to see that different teams in an organization invest significant resources to achieve objectives without really understanding their role in the overarching marketing plan: data teams generating complex dashboards with variables that may not be relevant to measure the success of the campaign, communication pieces that may never be implemented, mobile applications that may never get promoted, actions by channels that are juxtaposed or many innovation projects that respond to the mere desire to cover a new channel so to show an interesting (but impactless) case to the board of directors.

The uncoordinated overflow of the marketing function not only makes it inefficient but also carries an even greater risk: distancing the consumer. This is because the teams closest to consumer feedback struggle to distribute the information among the different elements of the marketing system, which also must align to respond with actions accordingly. The speed of response required to generate dynamic interactions with consumers does not live well with the difficult task of scheduling meetings that coordinate CRM, creativity, media, web, social media, technology, or commerce experts, nor with their annual plans that have little flexibility to absorb external changes.

The consumer at the centre

The consumer at the heart of a multi-channel marketing strategy

In an overflowing role of the marketing function, in order to not lose focus, it is necessary to have a strong strategy based on consumer experience that works as a transversal axis to the different actions by in each the channel. Although the focus on consumer experience exceeds marketing responsibilities, this is the area which is in a privileged position to lead such initiatives throughout the organisation thanks to having better perspectives on consumer demands and behaviours. Specifically, this implies generating agile cross-fucntion teams who lead, moderate, and determine the role of each channel to establish points of contact with the consumer coherently based on achieving specific objectives.

Many companies have already identified the need to strengthen this approach. However, the path to a multi-channel strategy based on user experience is not easy. In its latest report, Salesforce identified that more than half of the marketing teams believe that the majority of their digital channels are still managed in a “siloed” way. This figure is higher for channels involving emerging technologies, such as voice assistants, artificial intelligence, or augmented reality.

These are challenging times for those at the forefront of defining the marketing strategies of their brands. Today, more than ever, more and better must be done, and with enough relevance to stand out among the accumulation of brands that demand the attention of consumers. In this context, it is easy to lose focus and adopt the technological trend by addressing new channels in a disintegrated way. However, those who want to remain relevant must return the focus to the consumer, promoting user experience as a guiding strategy that continuously serves to validate the function of each channel, message, and project, and thus, regain the agility and integrity that consumers expect.