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Tyler Carter, 30 May '17

Are Teams Losing Their Focus? Hire a Marketing Strategist

Working with ever more specialist agencies, marketers can drift off course. A full-time marketing strategist can make sure marketing is aligned with business year-round.

According to Roisin Donnelly, brand director at Proctor and Gamble, “marketers are allowing themselves to be distracted by new digital platforms and are using technology for technology’s sake. Rather than actually focusing on consumers and their needs”.

Sound familiar?

It’s true. Landscapes are changing and for marketing there has been an incredible shift over the years and a fast paced shift at that. Driving this force is technology. There are now 5000 logos in Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape.

The impact that digital has had on marketing has been huge. All of these changes are making the roles and responsibilities within a marketing team very complex. Roles are now varied with lots of “grey areas” and it’s starting to have an effect on our focus on strategy.

So, to support teams and take the pressure off, we turn to specialist agencies for help. But in turn the average creative agency has also changed.

Today, agencies have jumped on the technology bandwagon. They’re now much more specialised in what they offer. They’re finding their niche and they are building and capitalising on this.

Is using a specialised agency a bad thing?

At first, possibly not. Having this specialised level of service is just what you’re after. Its unique, it’s focused and the agency know their stuff.

But think about the role of a Marketing Director or Head of Marketing. Their role is to look at the complete picture. Taking a much more holistic approach to what has to be delivered. Working with specialist functions this is no longer the case.

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The harmony of two parties working together with the clear focus and bigger picture in mind has almost disappeared. We’re now operating in a much more challenging environment with a multitude of partners across a dazzling number of projects.

So yes, we do have more access to more agencies and possibly more advice than ever before. What we don’t have is any co-ordination of all of this. As a result are marketing teams losing their focus and finding themselves forced down a niche path?

Are we blinded by tactics?

These specialised agencies are in a position to wow marketing teams. There is no question you can’t ask them on the topic that they can’t provide the answer to. And this, attracts us.

This specialist bias now forces us to get caught up in focusing on the tactics we can now deliver rather than the strategy we need to build upon. It’s almost the “act first, think later” approach, whereby strategy can sometimes fall by the wayside.

There needs to be an alignment.

Recruit a marketing strategist!

Strategy should be ongoing, not just a one-off event. To help support with this challenge, is there a new role within the marketing function which we need to start to look at and recruit for?

Think about a possible marketing strategist. Someone who sees the bigger picture. Who doesn’t focus on individual campaigns, tactics or brand work. Someone who, instead, has the overall marketing strategy aligned with the company strategy. An ability to pull all the pieces of the jigsaw together.

A role which becomes an ongoing function, not a one off. Where strategy is set at the start of the year and then reviewed mid-point and at the end (and maybe some points in between if we remember) – sound commonplace?

This person becomes almost like a tracker. Ensuring that if a new agency comes on board, they are there for a reason. That they can deliver on the strategy as well as the project. They are not caught out by the wow factor of the specialist, they do not give in to specialist bias. They simply help to set clear and concise parameters.

In turn, the marketing function can then almost become lean in their processes. Whilst delivering, dare we say, exceptional performance? All linked to plans and most importantly the customer experience strategy.

Those specialised niche markets are then utilised to the max. Used in a way which best supports the marketing function. No longer do marketing teams have to lose their way and we hasten to add, sometimes and just sometimes, become a little narrow minded.

Marketing strategists add value

The value this new marketing strategist would add could be priceless. Especially when we just think about how much time and resources we spend with agencies.

The role can look at how teams are structured, making them more lean. How priorities are determined (they support the “think first, act second” mentality). They also take into account the changes in technology and what should be invested in. How performance is measured. Making sure that above all, that doing the same thing or doing more of something isn’t simply a `waste` because we got drawn into a niche area.

Marketing should not be underestimated in its capacity to help drive businesses forward.

We as marketers and marketing teams need to remember to take a step back. To look at what is actually needed and make sure we’re always able to see all of the pieces of the puzzle. Oh, and of course to make sure all the pieces are from the same box!

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