It’s no secret that marketers grapple with constant change on a day-to-day basis. If the next Snapchat emerged tomorrow, you’d be scrambling to work out a strategy for getting your brand’s voice heard there. You’d need to build a campaign to integrate this into your overall content strategy, and find the resources and budget to accommodate it. Then you’d likely be asked to communicate that to teams in your local markets, ensuring you’re consistent and on-brand.

To keep up with constant change and an increasingly global mandate, marketers are stretched thin — and many report feeling overworked. 80 percent of marketers surveyed recently said they feel understaffed and overloaded (Marketing Stress Report, Workfront). Slow approvals processes are a cause of late work completion for over one-third of the respondents.

This extra workload is indicative of the gap between how much marketing has evolved, and how much marketers need to adapt their work to keep up. We took a look at how much has changed for the industry over the past 30 or so years, and distilled it down to the following three themes:

  1. A battle for market share
  2. The need to go global
  3. Managing channel complexity

A battle for market share

If you were to measure change by increasing magnitude, the modern marketer is pretty much living change every day. Marketers are dealing with more products and more consumers in more markets, and so on. With consumers being given more to choose from — and more channels than ever to get their information — each brand has a smaller slice of the pie that is the market.

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The tussle for market share comes from the explosion of products, and the myriad options available for brands to take them to market. About 30 years ago, there were 3000 new products introduced into the market every year – today, it’s between 30,000 and 40,000. In 1975, you could reach 60-80% of America through four TV networks and three magazines. That’s hard for today’s marketing or media exec to wrap their head around.

The need to go global

Coordinating across different markets has become key for marketers aiming to stay on top of the food chain. Their base of potential customers may have grown, alongside their disposable income, but so have brands’ options for communicating with them. Where the brand of the 90s strived for global scale, today’s challenge for brands that have already achieved that scale lies in skillfully translating global messages to their local audiences. It also signals a willingness to speak the language of your local markets.The increasing penetration of smartphones into emerging economies may have given marketers a larger audience, but they must go the extra mile to ensure they’re sending the right message.

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Managing channel complexity

As your brand scales its strategy across channels and markets, your content needs to scale as well. But there’s an economics problem here: the demand for content is outpacing marketing budgets, meaning you can’t place your bets everywhere. In the first ever study of content creation costs, we found that the costs of creating content are growing but marketing budgets aren’t keeping up. An entire 40% of the average advertising budget is tied up in production costs, or non-working spend, according to our survey of over 300 enterprise CMOs, VPs, and Marketing Directors.

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A response plan for the savvy marketer

Before you hit the panic button, not everything has changed. While marketing is being faced with an increasingly global mandate, there are several strategies that hold true for marketers today as they did 20 or even 30 years ago.

Balance your short-term successes with longer-term goals

Marketers are often caught between spending their energies delighting existing customers and enticing new ones. Customer retention can feel like more pain for less gain, and studies show that for longer-term benefits, you should pay attention to the people who don’t buy your product. Brands shouldn’t simply focus on their most loyal buyers but instead focus on the largest audience — infrequent or “light” buyers, and non-buyers. Check out this graph showing Coke buyers in the UK from 2005. Surprisingly, only about a third of them reported having bought a Coke that year.

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It is marketing’s job to focus on the left hand side of that graph: creating demand in those infrequent consumers, who, it turns out, make up the majority of your customer base. And it’s not just a larger customer base, but one that’s gradually growing wealthier. By 2030, five billion people — nearly two-thirds of the global population — could join the middle class, adding significantly to the addressable audience for a brand.

Get strategic about your content

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” – Howard Luck Gossage

The most progressive brands have been paying attention to consumer-level data for a while. Intel founder Andy Shaw was acutely aware of this in 1916 when he observed that the “progressive business man” studies the consumer’s “tastes, habits, and tendencies”. Each major technology innovation gives marketers the ability to reach more people with more compelling media. Today, marketers are being asked to serve more channels, more frequently, but that demand doesn’t come with an exponentially bigger budget. A thoughtful content strategy can help as a first step. If you’ve already mastered that, we have some more best practices to get more mileage out of your content.

Treat change as complexity management

The growth in marketing complexity  creates new challenges for the marketing department. Coordinating on-brand messaging between global markets becomes a key challenge, as the global marketer becomes a new player in the organization, and marketers are rewarded and recognized for having a global skillset, cultural literacy, and the ability to localize content. For scaling content, a one-size-fits-all model is no longer possible with a multitude of new channels on social and digital, so repurposing your content at the atomic level becomes key.

The change that comes with such complexity is by no means easy to manage. We’ve created this scorecard and strategic guide for change management, including the most important questions you need to be asking before rolling out change in your marketing department  whether that’s a new campaign planning process, a new channel strategy, or a software deployment.

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