2013 challenges: Andy Lark

2013 challenges: Andy Lark

Andy Lark, chief marketing and online officer at Commonwealth Bank, shares the challenges facing marketers in 2013

“What are the biggest challenges facing your business in 2013?,” B&T asked. Easy I thought. Lots. And but a few of them unique to financial services.

In fact, the challenges faced by marketers in all industries are getting larger, not smaller – and this is interesting to talk about. And while it would be easy to frame them all as wonderful opportunities, some just aren’t. They are mind-bendingly complex. 

Challenges like media, technology, planning, and people are driven by the +1. It’s not going to be enough for marketers to just compete well – we are all going to be looking for that one element of our work and strategy that drives a step-change advantage, a +1. Success or failure in 2013 is going to come down to how you deal with the +1.

Take the +1 in media. For the past 20 or so years (about as far back as I’m keen to remember) we’ve been dealing with at least one new major entity every few years, a +1 that we slipped into budgets and let grow. Think Yahoo, MSN and Google. Now, we’re dealing with a multitude of +1s. Massive media fragmentation is going to require a complete up-ending of budgets and a new approach to mobile, Facebook and whatever is next. Sports sponsorships and how the media charge for them are up for a total rethink as marketers look at the opportunity afforded by social and mobile.

+1 in Australia has profound implications. All marketers face the same challenge – at least those I talk to telling the truth. There is no more money! There simply isn’t enough anymore for us to continue to fund traditional media and programs at the expense of new opportunities. 2013 will be the year in which we see more progressive brands – like Dominos – make an even harder turn into new media and cut ties with the past. We won’t have the opportunity to be so slow in adapting to the +1 in media. Today 78% of B2B buyers start their research with search and yet 51% of B2B marketers currently spend 10% or less of their budget on search. It’s taken a long time to get to this point.

+1 is happening in our hands and on our laps. We’ve gone from watching TV to watching TV +1 mobile or tablet. We read the paper with our smartphone in hand. It’s no longer sufficient that we just integrate our campaigns across these new mediums; we need to synchronise the creative and idea. New apps from Foxtel and Channel 10 are going to get the ball rolling in 2013 and open the door to all kinds of new interactivity. Facebook is adding 600,000 mobile users per day. 36% of marketing emails were opened on a mobile device. You get the picture.

So, how to accommodate the +1 in mobile? Easy. Stop doing stuff. You know, all the little stuff. In 2013 marketers are going to need to stare down the 90/20 rule. That is, about 90 per cent of your budget goes to doing what you did last year – it kind of worked after-all, and 10 per cent to innovation in new spaces like mobile apps. That is where the eyeballs are going, and you are going to need more than 10 per cent to get you there.

+1 is happening to the pillars of marketing. Much like search quickly moved from an element of media and online strategy into being an entity in its own right, so has social. Social is the new +1 in marketing strategy. It can no longer be left to agencies of all kinds as a campaign element – an afterthought to add sizzle. It has to be a cornerstone of the marketing strategy spanning product management, service, sales and customer conversations. Heads of social will sit alongside the rest of the marketing leadership orchestrating social strategy across the business. 2013 will mark the spot where social has earned a seat at the table.

+1 can be seen in data. 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years. We once produced for ourselves – now we produce for everyone. Most of us have that +1 app that has resulted in an exponential increase in our communications – for me its Facebook. What this information tells us as marketers represents a significant evolution in data driven marketing. Think about the rise of Instagram or Pininterest where the conventional photo is now linked, loved and shared. Or Facebook, where a simple status change indicates a marketing opportunity. Data is the end result. Data on where you are, what you are interested in, what you love. And all that data is an opportunity for the marketing technologist. Smart marketing teams will get a grip on this opportunity in 2013, taking data driven marketing to a new level.

+1 is also about people. Across Australia, new marketers are landing alongside those the traditionally trained in media, advertising, marcom and direct response. They are data driven, demand centric, social, mobile, local loving types. They are more likely to have degrees in mathematics and technology. They are the +1s in marketing. They are going to usher in a new era of marketing planning, programs and accountability. Soft metrics will be replaced with much tighter correlations to business performance.

All this equals more change. If you don’t like change, you probably aren’t going enjoy 2013. Like change though, and all those +1s are going to make for a great 2013.

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