We kicked off our first inspiration session by discussing the future of marketing. We gathered eight diverse profiles, brought together by their shared passion for innovative marketing and communication. Some stumbled into their jobs by chance; others seem to be brought up to be a marketeer. All of them ended up with an intriguing track record and a clear vision. Time to rock the boat!
#1 POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Meaningful brands focus on the outcomes, by impacting lives and creating shared value.
To cut straight to the point: sorry late majority, digital and mobile transformation are no longer trending. Related topics are being quickly crossed out on to-do list these days, while new buzz words as innovation and disruption are gaining ground. Nevertheless, many companies are still struggling with the simple basics of marketing and communication. Main reason? Rapid change vs. fossilized corporate cultures and government regulations.
‘Fragmented communication is the biggest challenge for brands,’ Helena states. ‘CEOs are overwhelmed by the endless options that the digital world has to offer. I know it’s hard to imagine, but in this day and age a lot of high-profile managers are unable to share the most fundamental insights of their business.’
Haunted by the speed of change and paralyzed by the paradox of choice, basic questions as How and Why they do What they do, are left unanswered at the managers table.Although answering these questions is the skeleton key to unlock their potential and to find their company’s soul.
In the rush of things, digital communication often becomes merely an adapted copy of offline. Wake-up call: banner campaigns are as old school as billboard strategy, peeps. You need a seamless integrated online/offline communication strategy to tell your story. Or switch roles, as Elke claims: ‘Our agency is run by digital natives. We think digital and translate it to offline strategy, if even needed.’
Jumping to conclusions: older generations tend to make technological translations, without exploiting the dynamics of digital communication. ‘Being in permanent dialogue is a DNA feature of generation Y,’ Maarten adds. ‘Today almost everything is digital by default. Young consumers take it for granted to be constantly connected. It’s the norm, not the exception.’
More than that, they expect products to be of topnotch quality. Younger generations search for brands that take their responsibilities to the next level. They want brands to create shared value. In that way, the relation between boardrooms and consumers is really changing. As of 2016, your best isn’t good enough. Companies that aren’t making a difference aren’t going to be around much longer. Brands should shift the focus away from the product onto the brands impact on the planet and customers’ lives.
‘There are no absolute truths to hold on to any longer,’ Caroline continues. ‘Sure, we are confronted with waves of change, forming a transformation tsunami. But after all, marketing is still all about the consumer and your brand’s relevance. In this discussion your age, both as a marketeer or a consumer, isn’t even relevant.’ Long story short: Marketing basics are dead, long live marketing basics!
#2 THE 21ST CENTURY ENTERPRISE
Network-centric organizations with a lean & mean start-up attitude and an open source philosophy.
How will businesses manage to adapt thoroughly in this survival of the fastest? In order to be future-proof, not only marketing strategies or ways of communication are up for change. The structure and back end of organizations have to be remodeled as well.
‘Sadly, businesses will seldom give an all-clear signal,’ Kim remarks. ‘At least, not spontaneously. Even the majority of employees fears the unknown. In service-oriented businesses change is often initially triggered by a crisis or a controlled form of intern rebellion. The big social media switch the NMBS made, is the result of one single tweet gone bad.’
Contrary to popular opinion the true impact of digital and mobile will only now start to affect our lives. ‘Few businesses use their digital potential to the fullest. Mostly due to an obsolete structure and/or lack of time,’ Bert marks. ‘Therefore, I believe the future lies in network-centric organizations and creative eco systems. You’ve got to admit that, in the long run, not a single company needs to be able to do everything in-house.’
Companies have to be challenged to increase their flexibility and speed by trial and error. ‘A company has to be a lean learning machine,’ Gerrie believes. ‘Every time you want to try something new, you should prototype it, measure and analyse what happens, in order to do it better next time.’
While technology and context are evolving faster than we can handle, the customer’s needs and motivations are the only relatively stable things. And the most measurable as well. Some day artificial intelligent devices will not only know what you did last summer, but even know what you thought, through analysis of facial gestures.
That’s just one of many reasons why your brand should be built around your customer, and not vice versa. We’ve got ourselves tricked into believing that there’s such a thing as a love brand. It takes a subtle but important mind switch to evolve to a relevant brand that creates love content.
‘Emotions and empathy are the key attributes for success,’ Elke adds. ‘A brand’s strategy should not be determined by indefinite facts and figures. Quite the contrary, marketeers should trust their gut feeling more often. Our agency (Supermachine) eliminates paid traffic budget by addressing the crowd personally through influencers and their micronetworks. Paid traffic will never be as spontaneous and qualitative as the traffic in small, one-to-one conversations.’ Organic reach is emotive, priceless… and free. Some say they only need a fraction of the monster budgets spent on Facebook and Twitter, if you recruit the right influencers for the job and target the right niche communities. ‘It’s a shame that expectations for justifying the ROI on content marketing efforts continue to intensify,’ Caroline observes, slightly provoked.
Our experts conclude that time has come for marketing and sales to go hand in hand. Marketing covers much more than brand awareness. It should include every step of the process, from innovation and communication to distribution and customer care.
Co-creation, seed funds and crowdfunding can help start-ups or sluggish businesses to evolve from a slow bell curve to an explosive shark fin curve innovation. In that way companies should be able to spend more budget on both content curation, sharing optimization, contextual integration, and human-centered design. In the 21st century enterprise relevance is king.
MORE ABOUT THE RATPACK SESSIONS
This evening was part of 11 local intense brainstorm and challenging sessions in the areas of MARKETING, DESIGN and BUSINESS. The Ratpack Enrichment Sessions were set up in February and March, to help The Ratpack Agency to refine their vision. A group of professionals dedicated to making crowdfunding projects successful. They strive to mix the latest trends in digital / social media / marketing strategy with a creative approach. Eager to make products better, brands stronger and cool projects even cooler. As their correspondent, I summarized conclusions and took note of witty one-liners. More info: www.theratpack.agency