The modern marketing department needs to be a rapid response team. Consumers are adopting technology at an unprecedented rate, and marketers need to prioritise their often scarce resources to understand and exploit these new technologies in order to continue to reach and serve their customers. It is a constant, ever increasing challenge and make no mistake it is overwhelming. On top of this, the rise of the global consumer and the ease of selling internationally means it is not just scale and volume to contend with, but also the complexity of adapting your marketing messages to resonate in local markets. We’ve examined the challenges and suggested some solutions based on our experience of implementing major global campaigns for our worldwide clients.
What’s driving the change?
There are two major factors responsible for the change, which marketers need to be aware and keep track of:
1) Scale and Flexibility
Often the biggest challenges that marketing directors face is getting the right level of resource across the year. Each business will have its own season pattern and resource planning becomes even harder when the business is expanding and growing rapidly.
When your business is growing how do you quickly turn on additional resources to help you scale up? From our experience of working with dynamic, high growth businesses, the decision to launch or expand in a market can often be taken very quickly with the rest of the business expected to keep up. Suddenly new resources are required, not just in the central office but locally. Planning a global marketing campaign is not a project, it is a strategy and deserves to be given the necessary resources.
What we’ve described (very much simplified) is that the typical resourcing plan for a marketing team is not linear, but full of peaks and troughs, as different specialist skills are required at different parts of the growth plan. There are two pinch points, when a new resource is urgently required and when an existing resource is no longer needed. Marketers are looking for a model that can accommodate this level of flexibility.
2) A digital world is much more complicated than print
New digital channels to consumers have increased the complexity of the campaign elements required. Compare a global campaign ten years ago that might have required a creative agency to come up with a print ad, billboard and a TV commercial. These ads would then be adapted for local markets. However, with digital there are now hundreds of different channels. One single banner ad will need to be adapted for dozens of different publisher formats. It’s rare to see a hero 60” TVC anymore, brands are creating shorter videos that are targeted to microsegments. Each video is made for a particular channel. Different social channels don’t just have a different file format, they require a totally different message and proposition. This challenge is even more pronounced for adwords campaigns where 1,000s of keywords need to be reviewed, reassessed and adapted for the local market and language. Digital has made producing a global marketing campaign much more labour intensive at the implementation stage.
In addition to the campaign assets there is also the increased complexity of building and maintaining websites. Most global brands offer their websites in multiple languages, requiring the entire site to be translated. On top of the main website most brands will be using dozens of landing pages, blogs, forums, and ‘hub’ pages where SEO optimised content is housed. Brands that sell internationally have the additional challenges of having to adapt their ecommerce pages. Website translation is a specialist and high volume task in itself as it requires both cultural context, as well as an understanding of Search Engine Optimisation.
Consumers all across the globe can now access your brand. For many businesses this has opened up the opportunity to sell to consumers across the world. This brings with it a range of logistical challenges including shipping and payment, but specifically for marketing this requires language and materials that are relevant, accurate and optimised for each market. For example, in India the vast majority of consumers might be accessing your website via their smartphone. Whilst for a brand from the US selling to a middle eastern country may need to adapt the models wearing its products to better reflect local sensitivities. Suddenly, one website that is complex enough to maintain, has become three, five or seven websites with some common functions, but often with many features, or content that is unique to that country or region.
Marketing is faster, more global and more complex than ever. The existing agency model and marketing department can longer deliver. So, what are marketers doing to cope with this challenge? We examined several strategies:
1) Bringing skills and resources in house
Brands are looking for more transparency in their media buying, together with more cost efficiency in the production of their campaign assets. This has resulted in a growing number of brands bringing their media buying and creative production in house. This allows those brands to have dedicated expert resources available and enables a much tighter ‘feedback’ loop, ensuring that learnings are shared quickly and that the knowledge of the whole team grows. Of course, bringing a specialist function in house is no easy task. In addition to the HR and resource challenges, there is usually a whole tech stack to build to provide the right tools and software for the media team to be able to buy effectively, or to build an internal design or creative studio. This sort of investment is a fixed cost that can be very difficult to dial down when times are lean.
2) Seeking expertise on demand
There are many new specialist functions within the marketing team that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. What used to be ‘marketing’ is evolving into ‘marketing technology’. Whilst it’s possible to recruit for these specialist functions, there are typically two problems. 1) These specialist functions are in high demand 2) Businesses are reluctant to increase headcount for a role that the broader business does not understand, that is brand new, untested and may not exist next year.
For these reasons, it’s often far easier to bring in specialists as contractors. In this way businesses get access to the necessary specialist skill set whilst also being able to evaluate the long term requirement for the role, and if necessary build the business case for making the role permanent. A secondary benefit is that the specialists are often able to share their knowledge with the existing team and help them up-skill. This is a truly flexible approach to skills, allowing you to hire the expertise you require as and when you need it. The challenge comes as you start to grow and require resources that are dedicated and that understand your business.
Whilst contractors are highly flexible, they can also prove to be costly in the longer term. What if you could have the flexible access to specialist skills that you require, from one team? This model allows you to scale up and down the specific resources you need. This month you may not require designer resources to adapt the design of your ads, but you need more translation resources to help research and generate local headlines for the ads. Get the both of best worlds and work with an implementation partner like Freedman that is built for scale, providing you with the right resources only when you need them.
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What does tomorrow’s advertising agency look like?
3) Develop the campaign management function
Marketers have always had to plan and orchestrate complex, global campaigns, but as the complexity has increased so has the importance of planning, coordinating and managing the process. The discipline of ‘campaign management’ has had a renaissance and is now the critical, perhaps defining, function of a modern marketer. So what exactly do we mean by campaign management, it’s not just Gant-charts.
Marketing is becoming more agile in approach, testing different strategies and tactics and making decisions quickly based upon data and evidence. This data driven approach requires excellent reporting as well as analysis. Being agile also involves working at speed with many individuals and teams which requires effective communication and coordination. Technology teams often use systems like Jira to track their projects, increasingly marketers are using the same type of systems, or slightly more visual forms like Trello, Monday.com or Asana. These tools provide campaign management alongside team collaboration and communication.
Team coordination is vital for marketers who are managing multiple agencies in multiple markets. Sometimes agencies from the same network may have some internal coordination, but that won’t include all the other teams that need to be aligned. The global marketing team will want to have visibility of the major milestones and be able to plan their agency and team resources and budgets accordingly.
A large part of any campaign plan is making sure that the right resources are delivered to the right media, at the right time. It always sounds so easy, but in practice is always a lot harder to achieve every time across multiple markets, particularly with the added challenges of ensuring compliance with local regulation and different formats.
An effective asset management platform can massively simplify the campaign implementation process. But like any new system, it needs to be set up and programmed, conventions and processes need to be put in place and the whole team needs to be educated on how to use it. Marketing teams usually try to ‘figure it out’ by trial and error. That’s part of being the marketing technologist we talked about earlier. The downside is that this route of learning whilst doing is longer and inevitably leads to some avoidable mistakes.
It’s clear that having an effective campaign management function is essential to the smooth running of a global campaign, but how do marketers start to set up that function? It can take a lot of time to figure out the system, the tools and processes and even longer to test whether they work, or how best to use them for your team. What if you could outsource it to an experienced and specialist campaign management team?
That’s where Freedman comes in. We’ve been planning and delivering global campaigns for our clients for over 27 years. We’ve built the systems and customised the tools, we have experienced teams of account managers who have delivered successful global campaign for brands such as Shell, IHG, EA, Fitbit and Dropbox.
Freedman: Flexible solutions for global growth
Over the last 27 years we’ve pioneered the processes and systems to ensure swift, accurate and powerful delivery of your campaigns around the world. We have road-tested the best software to plan, manage and coordinate the delivery of thousands of different creative assets around the world. We have built a talented and experienced team including a dedicated account team and dozens of creative resources, plus a global network of in-country experts who can be called upon for local insight. Our clients know they can rely upon Freedman for effective and scalable solutions when they need global campaigns delivering fast.