Transformation is unpredictable and there’s no formula for success – or even survival.
There’s a wave happening across the marketing and advertising industries. That wave’s name: digital disruption. It’s causing brands such as Blockbuster, Nokia and Woolworths to shut their doors. Yet among this peril, we believe it’s more useful to take a look at the ones that managed to stay relevant and even use disruption to their advantage.
One example: Fujifilm. They realised they lived in a world where photographic film might not exist anymore and that they would need to change and adapt to changing times.
Brilliant Noise CEO Antony Mayfield has been sharing his thoughts on the state of the industry at events such as the World Federation of Advertising’s (WFA) annual conference in Lisbon, Hamburg D2M Summit and Campaign Brand Forum. From these we’ve gathered six key things you can do to make your marketing better:
1. Understand what disruption means to your marketing ecosystem
Disruption is literally an interruption to the way a system works. It’s not a shift from one state to another. Digital disruption has altered the foundation of advertising itself. When a system is broken, it must change or it is destined to die. Transformation becomes urgent.
Ask yourself, what’s driving disruption? It falls into three main categories:
- Customers, they are more empowered, informed and have more choices than ever.
- Competitors, who have come up with new solutions and new business models that are more adaptive, often using new technologies to get ahead.
- Capital, Silicon Valley investors that powered the success of Google and Facebook, now look at the myriad of opportunities that are available when you build a new system around the customer.
2. Think about a world with no ads
When you have a system like advertising, that’s corrupted and spiralling down with mistrust, you need to start thinking about a world with no ads. It’s difficult to imagine something completely different from what we’re used to. But that’s exactly when you give yourself the opportunity to change and reinvent for the better.
Fixing the ads is not the real problem. It’s a distraction from the real work to be done. Transformation is not a pretence of change or just saying different things. People don’t care what you say as a brand. It’s all about what you do. You have power as a brand; the power of spending money and deciding how and where to spend it, the power to make things happen.
3. Embrace complexity
Our brains love complicated things but are scared of complexity. Complicated is something difficult to understand but once you’ve got it, you can repeat it. Complex is something difficult to figure out that remains unpredictable each time you approach it, such as raising a child.
Our industry is complex and unpredictable so we need to stop thinking about it as complicated and predictable. It’s not. Forget annual planning and stability, embrace complexity and the richness that comes with it. Once you embrace the unknown with questions, complexity allows you to experiment and leads to discovery.
At Brilliant Noise, we have a system of constant improvement, the flywheel. This is a system of constant questioning, testing and learning and experimentation that encourages us to make marketing better and deliver better marketing. Marketers are ready to cope with a better system, but they need help and direction to implement a real change in the way they do things.
4. Learn from direct to consumer brands
A good example to learn about real change is D2C brands, such as Glossier and Harry’s Razors:
- They’re fast and flexible, with incredibly rapid planning cycles.
- They’re very responsive to data and they use it to experiment, test and learn.
- They put the customer first by building an identity-focused relationship with their customers.
D2C brands are succeeding because their culture is set up differently. Purpose and objectives are clear to the whole organisation, this focus creates alignment and an agile mindset that’s embedded in the company culture.
A report by LUMAscape reveals that 40% of CEOs of D2C brands are women, which is another striking element of difference compared to incumbent CPG brands numbers.
5. De-risk innovation
Change, transformation and all things new scare us because they’re risky. But there are ways to de-risk innovation and reap the benefits of taking that risk:
- Have a clear strategy that’s actionable. This puts into place a plan that follows your mission and gives you purpose.
- With an A/B testing mindset, you can work out which hypothesis work and from that you will constantly learn how and what to improve.
- Prioritise your opportunities. At Brilliant Noise, we use Bridge. It’s a prioritisation and experimentation tool we created that lets us capture and prioritise opportunities in terms of impact, effort and strategic importance. The opportunities that can be realised in the most cost-efficient way are visually apparent. It’s all there in the data, but it’s easy to lose track and prioritise the wrong things unless you have a tool like Bridge that helps you assess and prioritise the right actions for growth.
- Capability is essential for marketing in the digital age and that’s where you see real change because it improves how your people work with tools that will benefit your process the most.
6. Lead with questions
Previously it was all about leading with solutions to problems. When it becomes clear that challenges have changed and they’re not so easy to define, solutions are not that evident. Leaders need to take a step back and lead with questions now. Only through curiosity, questioning and knowledge will you be able to build the expertise you need.
Explore with data all the available possibilities and spend more time and money in analysis, as this is where you’ll get ideas and the strategy for improvement.
When you deal with complexity and unpredictability, you need to accept a simple fact: you just don’t know. Solutions, success formulas and easy way-outs all live in the Unknown, if not the Impossible.
The path to transformation is different for every brand. You can use these six things to help you start work on how to achieve better marketing.
Get in touch if you’d like to know how we can help you fight digital disruption. Enter your email below to receive regular curated brilliant content direct to your inbox.