Taking advantage of the perfect storm
Editorial

Taking advantage of the perfect storm

Why trust issues, customer behaviour fluctuations, Brexit and increasing sales pressures have created the perfect opportunity for marketing to shine

Marketers have always operated at the cusp of the latest developments. Uncertainty clouds the future of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, consumer behaviour is rapidly changing, and technological disruption has spelt trouble for both large corporations and SMEs. How can marketers navigate this changing landscape, take advantage of the opportunities ahead and deliver real business growth? 

CIM has led the way in testing the preparedness of the marketing industry to respond to these transformations – and make the most of them. Earlier this year, the institute produced a major report, Export Ready, in collaboration with PwC, which canvassed the opinion of marketers across the country to gauge the confidence of the sector, ahead of Brexit. The research provides CIM members and the wider marketing community with advice on how to seize the opportunity Brexit affords and avoid the potential pitfalls, with just a third of British businesses having a specific export strategy.

In order to reach into new markets successfully, brands must connect and engage with consumers across a fragmented digital landscape. Marketing can make a vital contribution to a business through its deep understanding of the customer, which can be integrated into the company strategy.

Keeping up with the customer

Consumer interaction with and consumption of rich media has changed the way marketers must operate. One of the key developments in customer behaviour has been the way in which people interact and seek to consume media, and few brands understand this better than Lonely Planet. First formed in the 1970s, they have thrived over the past 15 years by putting the customer first, and today, Lonely Planet reaches two billion people across 34 countries. The business also exemplifies the switch from single to multichannel, after exporting its book-publishing pedigree onto digital platforms.

British YouTube cooking channel and website, SORTEDfood, has harnessed this change by using social media and video platforms to engage challenging audiences such as millennials and Gen Z to grow their subscribers to 1.9 million, with more than 300 million video views since 2010. They now work with some of the world’s largest brands, including Ford, Kellogg’s and the Co-op, but harness the power of their subscriber community to ensure they always keep the customer at the forefront of their content.

Both Lonely Planet and SORTEDfood have successfully managed to resonate with customers, cutting through the noise of competitors and the multitude of digital distractions and more traditional channels. They will be sharing insight on how they have done so at the CIM Digital Summit 2018, and inviting senior marketers from across the UK to debate the hottest issues facing the sector.

Gaining trust in a time of scepticism

By providing a useful service for consumers, brands have an opportunity to develop trust, a valuable commodity in today’s ‘post-truth’ world. More than ever, marketers are called on to be the guardian of the brand and uphold the reputation of the business.

This is illustrated by the results of a recent CIM survey that revealed over a quarter of respondents believed they’d been misled by fake online reviews. The research, carried out in collaboration with BBC Five Live, showed that in the race for conversions, some brands are compromising their values. While three quarters of UK adults now use online review websites, the research found that almost half of those believe they have seen fake reviews. Indeed, the research found that mistrust of businesses is on the rise; last time CIM surveyed the public, 31% didn't understand where and how organisations typically used their personal data, today that's gone up to 48%. 

Spurred on by new legislation, brands are no longer allowed to mass-market their services to anyone and everyone. As the most significant new law in the area of data protection, GDPR, has caused marketers in organisations of all sizes to reappraise their relationship with customers. Now that customers can easily opt-out of messaging, brands need to focus on retaining their consumer relationships and adding value, and how they communicate is key to this.

However, Emma Fletcher, media specialist at Royal Mail MarketReach, who will be presenting at the summit, suggests it may be possible to market to customers by mail on the basis of ‘legitimate interests’.

“There may be some people you can only contact by mail for marketing purposes. Mail is your opportunity to build stronger relationships with your customers. It’s a channel people value and it stays in the home. Around 65% of people say they’re more likely to give mail their full attention, and 87% of people say it’s believable. Most importantly, mail drives action: 36% of people buy or order as a result of receiving something in the post.”

Senior marketers lack skills in PPC, e-commerce and data

The digital marketing conference will announce the latest results of CIM and Target Internet’s Digital Skills Benchmark, a one-of-a-kind study into the digital skills marketers need to prosper in their roles. The research found that senior marketers lack skills in specialist areas such as PPC, e-commerce and data analysis, and worryingly, many marketers are overly reliant on email marketing.

Dr Geraint Evans FCIM, ex-head of marketing at ODEON Cinemas, will also be sharing insights from the latest institute roundtable, where we discussed with senior marketers how to put together a top-class marketing team that is fit for purpose in a constantly changing environment.

Commenting on the challenges facing marketers, Geraint said: “With unprecedented changes to how we live our lives and do business, which are sure to continue exponentially, it really is time for companies define the role marketing plays and support their teams with the resources they need in order to meet their objectives and grow.”

This appears to be an industry-wide development, and one that should be tackled at a strategic level within organisations. After all, digital is a key factor in driving rapid change across the economy. While it has a major impact on channels and behaviours, it has also had a huge effect on structures and organisations.

Building a team for the future

Recruiters Page Group, who will also be presenting at the event, have highlighted the need for organisations to pin down what they are looking for, in terms of culture, business objectives, and the background of prospective employees. From there, a conversation on behaviours can lead to an understanding of what makes people leave, stay, what makes people change roles, and what makes them enjoy work. After all, organisations flourish when they are able to create a culture and atmosphere that supports the employees in helping to achieve the business’s objectives. 

Unlocking the power of marketing

Hosted at 30 Euston Square, London, CIM’s Digital Summit 2018, a flagship marketing event, will assess how the skills demanded by today’s marketing have shifted in line with technology. It’s time to harness the power of marketing to implement key changes in your organisation. Transformative times call for new competencies, and marketers must be ready.

Book your ticket for CIM’s Digital Summit now to gain exclusive insight from CIM, Royal Mail, Lonely Planet, SORTEDfood and network with key figures from across the marketing sector.

CIM

CIM comment

“Now is a critical time for marketing, and as such we would urge CIM members and the wider marketing community to attend the Digital Summit to ensure they are up to date on the latest developments affecting the industry.

Organisations are increasingly turning to marketers to deliver real business growth and lead in the face of uncertain times. With Brexit looming, we predict that this reliance on an effective marketing function will only increase, and marketers need to be sure that they have the skills to succeed.”

Chris Daly, CEO 

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