The long-term effect of short-termism
An open letter to CMOs
uberbrand recently attended the annual CMO Summit on the Gold Coast. The event brought together over 150 industry leaders to connect and discuss the most relevant themes driving marketing today. When we analysed their priorities against their challenges, we saw that digitisation and sales automation outweighs brand awareness and strategy 3 to 1.
Question: What are your key priorities for FY 18/19?
Cheaper, faster, measurable
This highlights an endemic issue. Our obsession with digitisation means that, like everything else, all marketing is assessed on its ROI. And because the easiest and fastest pathway to ROI is short term marketing activity, we’re all trained to focus on campaigning sales over sustainability.
What’s even crazier is that as professionals we all know it. And we all know short-termism isn’t going to deliver long term brand value.
Yet our jobs depend on having good quarters – and the more this continues, the more culturally embedded it becomes. So, what can we do about it? How can we build brand whilst achieving short term ROI at the same time?
Hitting numbers or building brand?
uberbrand discovered that whilst CMOs see brand awareness as the major challenge for their company, they generally have their focus set on other agendas. In fact, brand awareness tends to sit at number three on their list of priorities, coming in below both digitisation of marketing and sales automation, which came in at number one.
Question: What is your biggest marketing challenge for FY 18/19
This corroborates a recent study from Facebook/Deloitte* that found that just one in five Australian marketers see building brand as their most important objective – despite more than a quarter reporting that they felt their brand has stagnated in recent years.
Furthermore, as this culture continues, brand sustainability will become less important. As a result, we will train ourselves out of the skills of brand management, with future marketers working with a blind spot. This will become even more acute as marketing teams struggle for talent and expertise.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that when we leave our positions, we leave our brands in a better place than when we started. As part of this responsibility, we need to equip the next generation of marketers with the skills and capabilities to do the same.”
A clear contradiction
The contradiction was surprising to see expressed by some of our industry’s thought leaders. If brand awareness is considered the biggest challenge for CMOs, why isn’t it top of their list of priorities? Our conclusion is that this rift can only be due to internal pressure; leadership needs to see measurable return from their marketing investment.
For us at uberbrand, it comes as intuitive that sales are driven by a strong brand strategy, and that digitisation is part and parcel of effective brand management. In other words, without brand the top two priorities have no legs to stand on.
One of the things we’ve noticed however, is that brand related activities are being compressed – across timeframes, process and budgets.
Striking the balance
Balancing short-term with long-term is perhaps what should have been exposed as the biggest challenge facing CMOs today. But how do companies achieve sales now (whether via digital channels or otherwise) whilst ensuring they remain relevant and sustainable?
With everyone talking at once, the only way you can get cut-through is by bringing meaning to your brand. When you stand for something, your message becomes authentic and your content will actually resonate with consumers. Because brand never stops.
While a campaign may last a few months to support a good sales period, brand is there long before and after, maintained and built up over time. That’s why brand management is so important. It’s finding a position and owning it.
Don’t forget the old rules still apply, the tools are just different.
Brand is the bigger picture
In order to survive and succeed, effective branding is essential. Far more than just trending content, it permeates everything your company does. It guides all your communications, across the complete customer experience – every touch point, from digital to print to instore and everywhere in between. It’s the strategy that gives you the purpose to carve out a space to step into, leading a base of hard-earned advocates.
“When you can see the bigger picture, branding is really everything when it comes to good marketing.”
With this in mind, marketers overlooking brand awareness in favour of sales is like choosing the egg over the chicken. How can marketers expect to generate sales, through any platform, without brand awareness? And leads are important, but if you can’t build a relationship between your company and consumers, then maintaining sales is going to remain a struggle.
This year’s CMO summit confirmed what we at uberbrand already know and live by: partnering with an agency that understands the value and dynamics of branding, at every level, is the best move towards sustained business success.
That’s what we mean by brand-led communications.
*(17)Shared stories: Building Brand in the Digital Age. Deloitte & Facebook Australia 2018