Marketers time to move away from ticking the box


One of the things that I’ve realized are important in a professional life is the ability to decipher and discern the issues around you, your operating environment, bosses subordinates and working culture. I believe mastering these issues and developing a workaround will always help be on top of your game and on top of every situation. Having worked both on the client side and now working within an ad agency, I cannot help but witness gaps within the marketing fraternity in Zimbabwe. Over the months I have been engaged on the ad agency side there’s one thing that has been more glaring for me and quite worrying “ticking the box” behaviour from some of our local marketers. I want to share a few thoughts on how as marketers we can improve the institution and really circumvent some of the natural fights we always have with those in the upper echelons.

Ticking the box is in my view, running a marketing campaign without clear and concise goals about what exactly one intends to achieve and how to objectively quantify your success or lack of it thereof. This behaviour is confined to not only running a marketing campaign but also manifests in the strategic thinking or lack of behind any marketing programme or activity with pertinent questions on appropriate media channels and reason thereof demonstrating the frailties of the overall thinking process.  Over the past few years many local brands have encouragingly adopted social media as an additional platform to their marketing mix. However most brands (and their custodians) I’ve witnessed still view social media as an extension of where they can place a press ad and for some an afterthought, “by the way what do we upload on Facebook kind of behaviour” all this is a manifestation of ticking the box behaviour.Within the space of about an hour it was impossible to carry out any menial task, be it making a coffee or flicking off a light switch, without first being presented with at least three different words related to this action.

Cdes, I urge us humbly to move away and migrate from this notion of ticking boxes, running campaigns without clear cut goals, targets and objectives and also just creating presence on social media for the sake of ticking the proverbial box. The basic premise of marketing is simple, reaching your target audience with the right message at the right time through the most effective channels but sadly most of today’s campaigns are driven by systematic routines, we have always done it this way! We must appreciate that there’s a lot of clutter, a lot of information being shared and consumed both online and offline and if we’re not crystal clear about what we want to achieve and how to measure success, then all we’re doing is fulfilling marketing rituals and shooting in the dark.

Cdes what I’m advocating for is performance driven marketing, marketing that is driven by where you can get maximum and measurable impact on your campaign, we need to objectively ascertain the (ROAS) return on ad spend. I believe the day we start developing a campaign from this point of view, is the day we will begin to have less fights and arguments with our colleagues in finance. The finance manager is a numbers guy and all he wants to see are numbers and not stories, you spent 10k on the campaign, what is the outcome period!
This brings me to the issue of digital marketing an exciting new form of media that helps you ascertain the impact of your campaign with surgical accuracy. As I alluded to, digital media is a potent weapon of mass destruction which we need to take full advantage of. We need to kiss goodbye days of when we were on social media simply because everyone is on Facebook and move into a space where we create interactions and synergies between press and social media and where social media becomes the hub of our marketing insights. If you’re running a campaign, think about what the press ad will help you achieve and not just flight because your boss expects you to flight! Sometimes you will realize you don’t need to have a press execution but if our thinking is still traditional then we keep falling in the same trap.

A marketing campaign should always be guided and informed by the target audience and the cost/reach/impact ratios, we always need to constantly ask ourselves the following questions; how effectively can I reach my target audience? What media channel gives me maximum impact at a lesser cost? How many can I reach and how best can I create media synergies? Cdes let’s move away from just running a press ad simply because over the past 10 years you’ve always launched a campaign with press executions! Our thinking needs to change, the consumer has evolved and so must we. If we’re on Facebook, understand that it’s a social platform for interaction through organic posts and if you want to promote your brand, there’s paid advertising. If every day all you’re talking about is what you’ve achieved and asking us to buy then I’m afraid you’re on the wrong path.
Marketing is not about pleasing the client or pleasing your boss it’s about the consumer, it’s about how can we create and communicate a message that cuts through the clutter and get noticed via the most effective channels. My former CMO used to tell us “your customer is your mother, your girlfriend, brother, father you name it”. A good message can be nullified if not conveyed through the most effective channel.

Cdes, now that we have embraced digital, let’s sink our teeth in, let’s drive qualified leads and qualified traffic into our shops and our websites. It’s all about conversion and with digital media channels, everything is measured and you can with surgical accuracy determine the impact of your campaign. If we’re to go digital, let’s go the whole nine yards and not driven by ticking the box and pleasing your MD or CEO that you’re fully into digital when all you’ve is a Facebook page. Digital media is an ecosystem where your website (owned media) is at the heart of it and social media forms the hub for all marketing insights about your brand.

In conclusion, l make another plea for us to migrate from ticking boxes and running campaign without thinking through the entire process. Ticking boxes will please only those who want to see boxes ticked but will not translate into the desirable success that we so crave. In marketing, what get’s done, get’s measured and we need to objectively assess and evaluate the impact of our activities. It’s deeply worrying when you’ve marketing managers in this day and age (2016) who don’t understand and appreciate the potency of digital media channels. I rest my case!



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