Archive for the ‘Fragmentation’ Category

I’m not sure how much longer people can keep continuing to write the same articles, about the same topics, saying the same things, predicting the same “changes”, and expect anything to fundamentally change. I’m referring to an article published in Advertising Age called “The New Normal for CMOs” ironically under the column called CMO Strategy.

Simply regurgitating the same information that has prevailed the past several years is not strategic, and surely won’t help CMOs. Listing what the prevailing market conditions are, rather than offering new ideas for CMOs on how to deal with prevailing market conditions, is not strategic – it is informational. Plus, the information provided most of the time, or at least in this piece, is not new.

If a particular mindset has been in place for years or even decades, it should already be normal.

To paraphrase the main points in the article referenced above, each of which the author points out as “changes” or shifts for 2011:

* Your media mix is probably changing.

* LTV and customer loyalty is crucial, rather than a churn and burn strategy.

* Marketing and customer engagement is better when rooted in analytics.

* Marketing is no longer siloed and close partnerships with Finance is necessary.

* Performance-based procurement partnerships will become prevalent.

* Niche, creative expertise replaces one-size-fits-all agencies.

* Production and creative will decouple for efficiency’s sake.

* Consumers are tough to reach; agency compensation models will change accordingly.

* Minorities, and minority buying power, are significant, too.

* CMOs need to have a diverse skill set.

Summary: CMOs will be asked to do more with less.

Really? Which one of those have you not heard of before? Some of this is so basic and fundamental to what a CMO should have been thinking about for year that if you’re not thinking about them now, you shouldn’t be a CMO.

Everyone knows about the allure of social media. Everyone knows a 30-second spot won’t blanket your target audience anymore. So what can CMOs do, what should their new reality be? CMOs and top marketing executives need some new thinking or alternate points of view. I will give you two:

1) CMOs need to stop talking about shrinking budgets; everyone’s budget is tight and everything is fundamentally related to the recessionary times we live in. At some point, the more CMOs talk about their budgets shrinking, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sure, it is tougher to reach consumers than ever before, and CMOs have to “do more with less”, but when has that not been the case?

If your partnership with the CFO is as strong as the author in the Ad Age piece says it should be, and your marketing is rooted in analytics and ROI as the Ad Age piece says it should be, then why is your budget shrinking? Why not work to get your budget larger at the expense of another non-revenue producing, unproven, less impactful area? You can fix your shrinking budget, trust me.

2) Why do you think audiences are so fragmented nowadays versus, say, 10 years ago? Because they have thousands of places to get and receive content, and communicate. Content includes communication, but also includes websites, forums, social networks, and blogs. Why aren’t CMOs focusing on creating content for themselves or their brand and build their own communities that way? It is great to rely on Facebook and Twitter as communication mechanisms and platforms, but why not own your own real estate rather than renting? Have the conversation on your own (branded) terms. Then it becomes a lot easier to engage your target audience.

I think this should be *the* trend for 2011. By “creating content”, I’m not solely talking about having a Facebook page. I’m talking about creating your own forums, blogs, mini-sites and the like. Let your target audience and potential consumers talk about your brand and your product on your platform or your site where you can be a lot more creative and interactive. It is cheap, free, easy and efficient.

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Over the weekend, on the heels of two very successful events run by my marketing team, I was asked by a client how marketing today was different than marketing 10 years ago. I thought about it and answered “CMO’s and GM’s need to be comfortable in embracing the fragmented nature of the world”. He looked at me strangely and here’s what I meant:

Fragmentation happens in two ways for marketers: There is audience fragmentation and marketing fragmentation. Both occur now in ways that just simply weren’t applicable a decade ago. This is because of two things: a major shift in consumer trends and growth in technology (specifically devices).

At its core, marketers fundamentally want to go where their audience is to give them the best chance to promote their brand, generate sales or generally appeal to those they think will be most interested in information, a product, or a service.

Audience fragmentation means that it is much tougher for a marketer to get in front of their target audience. The shift in consumer behavior to cause this has been an increasing demand for all things to be “on-demand” and digital, thereby giving consumers a vast number of choices in what they consume and how they consume it. No longer do consumers actually behave in a way that has them interacting with just a few forms of media. This is good for marketers as well as a challenge. Good, because there are now tons of ways to reach people; a challenge because the number of ways to reach people is actually dizzying.

It seems like the days are behind us where consumers rely or interact with a handful of media to get their information. It isn’t just a daily printed newspaper, a handful of TV channels, and a couple of radio stations. Think about what consumers use now which fragment a marketers audience: hundreds of TV & satellite channels; hundreds of satellite radio choices; a vast array of devices like the iPhone, iPad, Kindle and more; millions of websites, forums, search engines and blogs like the one you’re reading. In fact, if you were born in the mid-1980’s or later, you probably can never remember a time when there was no worldwide web, cell phones or hundreds of DirecTV channels.

Audience fragmentation always leads to (or should always lead to) marketing fragmentation, meaning a wide array of budget line items. So like actual consumer behavior, a marketers toolkit must follow with a wide assortment of line items and creative thinking. No longer are there only traditional elements to a marketers toolkit like advertising, public relations, event marketing, etc. Now, a marketer must have a strategy for mobile devices; a detailed web strategy which includes many elements like social media, display and search – and often a strategy-within-the-strategy for each of these pieces. Depending on your industry, there is probably still TV, radio and print strategies in your budget, but those are becoming less as consumers shift their usage; there are simply dozens of new things that have to be accounted for by a marketer.

I would qualify a marketer’s job, or challenge, as somewhat ironic. Ironic in the sense that consumers are more fragmented than ever before because of the number of choices available with which to consume things; yet, there are a wide number of tools, applications and strategies with which to reach that fragmented audience. What will make CMO’s or GM’s successful is their ability to educate themselves, watch what consumers are adopting and be highly-organized in their approach.

One thing that hasn’t and won’t ever change is a marketer’s desire to “go where their audience is”. What has changed and will continue to change are the ways that marketers actually make that happen.