by Ollie Stewart
The digital world is transforming and countless stories have been written, tweeted, snapped, pinned and live streamed about how brands need to adapt to it. These stories talk about how brands need to embrace new marketing channels, tell more stories, build more experiences, create more engaging content, keep up with growing consumer expectations, and evolve to become omni-channel storytellers to stay relevant.
But of all the stories I hear, a key element is missing… The Marketers. Marketers are people. They’re the passionate, strategic and creative characters behind the brands.
I’m always curious how they are managing the seismic shift within their roles and teams? I have had the opportunity, to spend a good deal of time with marketers who manage some of the most amazing brands in the world. I’ve been able to witness their transformations. From Nike to NASA. Airbnb to Starbucks. I’ve heard many themes, challenges and frustrations. Through countless meetings, conversations, coffees and cold beverages, I’ve been in their war rooms, felt their pain, seen a few tears and celebrated their success as they have innovated and adapted.
I’ve also found that brand marketers lack an honest forum to share their frustrations and challenges with one another. When I bring together customers and partners, they often form a support group for managing the complex orchestration of their brands. I hope that by sharing some of the most common challenges, frustrations I’ve heard, this article will foster more connections and honest conversations about ways to innovate.
3 key challenges I’ve heard brand marketers share about their digital transformation:
“We’re spending way too much time building decks & updating spreadsheets, when we could be doing strategic thinking.”
Raise your hand if you chose to be a brand marketer because of your love of spreadsheets or fifty page presentations. Assuming your hands remain defiantly at your side you may share the frustration of spending so much time creating documents so that you can show your work and plans to your team/boss/colleague/partner/client.
I often hear about the countless hours spent creating documents to create visibility within their own teams to get everyone on the same page. This administrative work aimed to align everyone is daunting and often directly impacts the time spent being strategic and creative. Marketers want to focus more on the parts of their job they love the most.
“There are more people, partners and teams involved in the marketing process than ever. We often have no idea what one another are doing until the last moment. My life feels like one big fire drill.”
As brands adopt more channels and create more content, it is natural that increases in complexity will follow. Getting a small group to sing from the same songbook is hard but when you add in new media formats, channel teams, global teams, and agency partners you are now conducting an orchestra of massive proportions.
We often hear how teams start, rallied around a strategy or campaign brief but as the work begins, everyone falls into their silos, with no easy way to provide visibility across teams, to peers or executives. Their calendars overflow with meetings. They get stuck in email jail. The inefficiency and extra work to stay aligned creates opportunities for mistakes, duplication, inconsistency in message, and not to mention some vey late nights.
“The pressure is on to constantly up our game. We are asked to tell amazing, interesting stories that engage and inspire our customers. Oh… and do it more often and in more places than ever.”
Not fair, right? As teams are challenged to do the most creative and inspiring work of their careers, they are also having to support more coordination tasks than ever.
I often ask marketers to talk about what it takes to be successful as a team. They describe their best work often comes out in a collaborative environment, where they have time to discuss, debate and refine their ideas. They create a place where the team can share a common view of the project, see each others ideas, build upon them and and give each other enough lead time to make all of the work great. Senior leaders get involved to identify gaps and ensure the brand voice and cadence feel right, before it’s too late to make changes.
Although many teams aspire to create this collaborative and creative environment, they often lack the ability to create a process that delivers across the complex organizations they work for. They find themselves, simply too busy… Doing the work to enable their team, instead of doing the work they know they are capable of.