What’s scaring marketers – and what can they do about it?

We’re officially in the spooky season and it’s not just about frightening ghouls, horror films and witchcraft. The marketing industry is also facing some demons of its own. Vlad Komanicky, CEO and Co-Founder at Alchemists explores the issues making marketers’ skin crawl and how they can overcome them.

It’s a spine-chilling time for marketers. We are on the cusp of this decade’s most significant economic downturn, and many companies are preparing for the inevitable impact. Even the tech giants have not come out unscathed. Meta recently reported a revenue drop for the second quarter in a row, and it has also announced it is reducing its workforce by 10%.

In a time when businesses are looking to make cuts in spend, it has never been more critical for marketers to state their case.

Marketers have an obligation to do better. Failing to do this can have a negative impact in the long term for marketing departments, who may lose out on the correct budgets, not to mention the chance to truly prove the power that their work can have in engaging and inspiring the entire business internally as well as externally.

But we also know that marketers are under increased pressure. There is a lot to juggle, and certain hair-raising challenges need to be tackled head on.

Changing the status quo

Online fashion retailer ASOS recently admitted that it had invested too much in performance marketing, leaving insufficient investment to drive longer-term brand awareness. It’s easy to be lured towards the immediate availability of analytics and data in online advertising.

It’s been proven many times that brand awareness and salience directly impact the performance of your advertising in any channel. But it takes time to build, often with multi-year brand-building focused campaigns. The level of investment between the brand and online should be at least equal, if not slightly higher.

But it’s hard to achieve this if there are siloes internally. We often see e-commerce or performance teams doing their own thing and brand marketers doing “the other”. And it’s not that easy to align between these two often separate worlds.

Brand, media and digital teams must collaborate and communicate effectively to set the targets and oversee the final execution. When it comes to marketing, there can only be one “north star” – an aligned view on the future model and strategy, and how it sets and delivers on its objectives.

Once the north star is agreed upon, organisations need to relentlessly pursue its implementation, knowing that changing the status quo will require strong leadership and a willingness to change across all levels of the organisation.

Navigating the complex digital marketing ecosystem

Big tech titans such as Google, Apple, Meta, and Amazon have a dominant share of global digital marketing investments. Each platform has unique ecosystems, making it more challenging to understand for marketers.

It can be a minefield to navigate – especially with disruptors such as TikTok being added to the mix. Marketers, therefore, need to focus on a detailed understanding of how each ecosystem operates, then identify the best ways to optimise each to manoeuvre through the tangled web of platforms and tools.

There are several ways for brand marketers to do this effectively. Some rely more on their big tech partners to ensure they are maximising the opportunities. But others find more success in building strong and capable agency ecosystems with higher digital, media and data capabilities that can advise on the best solutions. There is also a case for building these capabilities in-house. There is no right or wrong answer, but it is essential for businesses to internally review the best model that suits the appropriate needs and approach.

Addressing consumer needs

With moral questions at the heart of every decision, consumer sentiment is clearly shifting. Data privacy and sustainability are some of the issues at the forefront of these demands, and marketers have had to adapt quickly to address these changes.

Collecting and understanding first-party data is crucial given the industry’s inevitable shift towards a cookieless future. Marketers who are prepared for the shift and can harness the opportunities with first-party data will be ahead of the game and benefit the most.

And with climate anxiety at an all-time high and consumers rethinking their purchasing potential, marketers must also consider this. Advertising can play a big role in driving positive change towards building a more sustainable future. Sustainability is just as much about a carbon footprint as it is about finding means to achieve less wastage in marketing. Marketers can only win if they focus on spearheading a more suitable approach. Producing less and producing more efficiently is the ultimate goal for any modern marketing team.

It’s a daunting time for marketers, and there’s much to consider. However, to avoid the heebie-jeebies, businesses must look introspectively and evaluate whether their operating model, structure and capabilities are the right ones for what’s in store. Taking the time to consider what is appropriate for the business needs – and its customers – is crucial in finding a clear path that leads out of the maze.