We live in a time of tremendous innovation, massive disruption, and constant change. Our customers are rewriting the rules on how they engage with brands, media, content, and each other. As marketers, we need to rethink the way we reach our target audience.
But often our companies, executives, and teams lack the vision, skills, or understanding of how to address the changing business landscape and green-light the right projects. These times call for a new leader to emerge — one with the right vision to focus on delivering customer experiences, and one with the leadership skills to inspire executives and internal teams to get on board. Equally important, we need leaders who know how to communicate the impact of our marketing on customers and the business value it brings to our company.
It's time for marketing that matters. This starts with understanding where we are today:
The boss isn't happy. Managers aren't happy. Employees aren't happy. Customers aren't happy. But why? In conducting client interviews, surveys, and research, I've found that the majority of CEOs are expecting more ROI from marketing, in addition to demanding marketing campaigns that have questionable, if any, business value. While putting your logo on a bus, a stadium, or a golfer's hat sounds like fun, most campaigns fail because the content we create simply misses the mark.
As employees, we're tired of being told what to do and coming up with new ideas that executives won't approve. And as customers, we're punishing the brands that interrupt our media consumption with advertising we don't want.
B-to-B buyers tell me they have a real need for information from brands to support the buying process. But too often they get promotional sales messages and content they aren't ready for.
The bottom line: marketing needs to change, and change fast. Here are four steps marketing leaders can take right now to drive the change they need for their company, their career, and their customers.
1. Push back: Marketing leaders need to start driving change by pushing back on bad ideas that don't deliver real value and focusing on creating marketing that matters to us, our buyers, and the companies we work for. Pushing back doesn't have to be an act of disobedience. We just need the courage to stop doing the things that don't work.
2. Have a buyer-centric vision: While the traditional org chart still exists at most organizations, it often fails to take into account the customer. Even if your company mission isn't customer-centric ("We are the leading provider of widgets"), your marketing vision must be. And there is one simple formula to get there: Define the impact you have on the lives of your customers.
American Express OPEN Forum started with this buyer-centric vision: Help small business owners grow. AmEx's website quickly became the company's largest source of new leads and its most effective marketing channel. That vision has since evolved to serve a larger audience in bigger ways: Insights, inspirations, and connections to help your business.
To find out the remaining two steps, click here.
Michael Brenner, author of The Content Formula, is committed to helping brands create marketing programs that matter. He is a globally recognized keynote speaker on leadership, culture, and marketing.