Just as marketers are getting religion about the importance of social media, they are in danger of failing to see that social media is just a vehicle, not the solution.
Rather, information is the keystone. The new market leaders in the next several years will be determined by how well firms embrace the information flow (think big data plus social plus, etc etc) that surrounds their own brand and their customers’ lives. To put the opportunities of this brave new world in context, leaders need to appreciate the changes in the world around them. And build now for the future of marketing.
Welcome To The Creative Age
Having marched through the Industrial Age and blown through the so-called Information Age, this new millennium presents an even more daunting age of opportunity. This could be referred to as the Creative Age. The Creative Age will be characterized by its reliance on small groups of social influencers, who have broad access to consumer information and generate creative and innovative thinking, both building the brand and sales.
For marketers the Creative Age must be thought of in terms of three major impacts. First, and foremost, the creative application of ideas through social channels, as a major vehicle, will spawn a new era of truly integrated marketing communications. Secondly, real-time consumer information and speed of response should be seen as a critical ingredient to developing breakthrough creative insight. And finally, the Creative Age will blur the organizational lines between marketers, their customers and the agency.
So how should a marketer take advantage of this new age? They need to first address their very structure and operations on how best to capture and harness this new creative ground swell. Do they have the framework and the personnel to find, recognize, and utilize valuable consumer information, ideas, and conversations? Can they do it quickly enough to be useful? And most importantly, have they pushed responsibility down to the lowest level so as to not impede that vital information flow?
Key Points For Market Leadership
Leadership – Leaders, who have a strong vision of what the brand is and where it’s going, are in place. This is a conscious strategic decision to reinvest and reposition staff with their brand and the new tools in mind.
Philosophy – Proactive marketers understand the power of this new media and the expanding need for information and speed. They realize that technology is a hidden force that enables empowerment and freedom.
Roles & Responsibilities – Marketers must have the right personnel to determine if ideas, conversations, streams of data flow and information are useful or useless at all levels of the organization. Understanding of the brand AND having the freedom to act is key.
It Starts with Leadership
The new trend in American management is to talk about bottom-up managing, using the power of employees to help move an organization forward. What is often missing in those discussions is the need for top-down leadership that defines boundaries. Marketers need leaders to define the brand vision in order to free up the organization, ensuring high-performance, speed, and results.
Turning Brand Vision into Action – The vision needs to go beyond just a statement. It must encompass tangible goals and a strategic direction for the brand. The vision must be clear and detailed. The more articulated it is the more clear it becomes for those who will be driving the message at all levels, both within and without the company.
Rethink Operations – An operations strategy defines your firm’s structure, processes, information needs, and staff skill levels in terms of your vision. It also focuses on the expense/capital investment side of the financial statement – getting operational costs under control. In this new age the roles and responsibilities of the organization need to be rethought and brought into alignment with the overall brand vision.
New Roles & Responsibilities
“With all this change you must not forsake those important leadership skills that helped agencies deliver the business building results clients so desperately need. These skills, which are in danger of being lost in today’s high-speed economy, were strategic advantages clients wanted to pay for and caused them to treat their account management teams as trusted advisors.”
Bob Sanders, Sanders Consulting Group
The changes sweeping the market require that marketing structures change as well. Simply adding a “social media” director isn’t enough anymore. Just as the advent of television created the need for whole new structures, the Creative Age will drive change throughout the traditional marketing arena, including traditional roles and responsibilities.
Market Research: Focus on listening to the steady-stream of conversations, track reciprocity and trends while providing information that builds the brand in an open format.
Brand Strategy: Shape the message, and push out information to maintain brand personality, voice, style, and image. Create conversation starters, generate business building ideas. Push responsibility for communication to the lowest level.
Advertising: Develop brand awareness tactics that stand out in innovative ways. Ensure the brand stays relevant and visible. Open new avenues for consumers to both discover and engage the brand.
Public Relations: Engage influencers and advocates, support the brand personality, and develop a steady stream of ideas to build reputation and trust.
Sales: Communicate directly with prospects and consumers, market research and brand strategist. Listen and respond quickly. Feed information top to bottom. Represent the active voice of the brand through engaging customers.
The long-term objective, from a Creative Age perspective, should always be where is the next opportunity coming from and what will be the effect on the brand? How can we make it work for us? The current trend of social media only provides us with another tool, it does not build the brand or sales, these come through planning and implementation. The role of leadership is to help create the vision and to make it happen. If this means changing the structure, roles, responsibilities to best take advantage of this Creative Age then so be it.
If you’re interested in learning how we’ve helped many marketing leaders transform their organization, build for the future of marketing, please contact us at 412.897.9329 or just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by BenHeine