There have been some huge marketing stories this year but, in the mind of Atomic 212°’s CEO Claire Fenner, the best marketing teams need to bang their drums even louder.
Ahead of the B&T Awards, we sat down with Fenner to talk all things marketing. She told us why marketing is more important to businesses than ever given the economic climate and what the best marketing teams can do to ensure that their invaluable contributions are genuinely appreciated by the rest of their companies.
B&T: Atomic 212° is sponsoring the marketing category for the B&T Awards. Why is it important to make sure these teams are recognised?
Claire Fenner: Marketing teams are often undervalued in our industry and businesses more broadly.
The agencies are very good at recognising their work and celebrating success. But marketers are the ones driving that work behind the scenes and their briefs are what trigger that amazing work. A good partnership between agencies and marketers is critical to get an amazing campaign at the end. Marketing teams don’t necessarily have the opportunity to invest in awards programmes, either and we want to support that and celebrate the amazing teams in the industry.
More broadly, marketing often isn’t valued for the role it plays in business growth. It is seen too often as a cost centre rather than a growth centre and we want to change that. We have also written a book that can act as a guide for marketers to ensure they leverage their media and marketing investment to maximise effectiveness. We’re constantly looking at different ways that we can support marketers and not just through delivering great work for our clients.
Marketers and agencies must work hand-in-hand to quantify the impact of their media and marketing investment. Marketers need to drive that change and structure their activity so those insights can be found through experimentation and analysis to give them an understanding of what genuinely works.
As a result, when marketers report back to the rest of the business, they can demonstrate the growth they create and the levers they can pull to generate more business impact.
Do you think it’s especially important that marketers have those skills given the current economic climate?
It’s critical because any business will have cost pressures and look for opportunities to cut costs — particularly at the moment. The cost of living pressures that consumers face can lead to fewer sales for some businesses and this creates pressures on the marketing teams to prove the great work they do. Great marketing is such a powerful lever for businesses to pull to drive growth.
As an industry, I think we have deviated too far from quantifying the impact of total marketing investment. We became hooked on easily reportable digital metrics that aren’t meaningful to the business as a whole. This narrowed down the impact that marketing can deliver and those vanity metrics are very short-term in their focus and only represent a small portion of the overall impact of marketing.
How can marketing teams demonstrate that value to the rest of the business — beyond winning a B&T Award, that is?
They need to have day-to-day conversations on the topics that matter to business leaders, generally sales or any revenue-driving activity. If they can quantify the impact of marketing on those metrics — and particularly the incremental impact of marketing — that will be the most meaningful demonstration.
To get to that point, marketers need to understand what works for each business. We approach that by trying to scientifically narrow down what will deliver results for each business.
Why do you think that marketers aren’t having those conversations at the moment?
They need to leverage the resources around them and they might not have that capability around them. I don’t think marketers need to do the analysis themselves — that can require quite a specialist skill set and they might not have that capability within their partners or it could be perceived as too expensive by the business to invest in analytics services. Marketers need to understand what the output and insight into marketing effectiveness would look like and then seek partners who can help to deliver these insights.
There is a trade-off for marketers in terms of allocating budget to generate those numbers and insight. That can be challenging when they don’t necessarily know the value it will provide to them. There is a lot of education to be done within marketing teams on what sort of analysis would be valuable and meaningful but also to give them the confidence to back these numbers when they present them to the rest of the business.
Which marketing teams and campaigns have stood out to you the most this year?
Of course, not ignoring the work of the finalists, I think the Shift 20 campaign is a great concept both in terms of the creative idea and the media idea. A creative idea spanning campaigns across 10 of Australia’s most well-known brands is a feat in itself, but combined with the clever “unignorable ad break”, we saw a highly impactful marketing campaign that conveyed a very important message. That’s a powerful combination that really stood out to me this year.
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