Originally published by Campaign Middle East.
By Gautam Kukreja, Associate Director at OMD UAE
It’s that time of the year, when some are eagerly awaiting the festive season, while others are dreading this time looking at their balance sheets and wishing for a superpower that enables them to stop time!
Unfortunately, in our very early years, we learnt that “Time waits for no one”. However, we also learnt about the good and bad that was invented with time, i.e. the bad part of good time is that it doesn’t last forever and the good part of challenging times are that it too doesn’t last forever.
Every business goes through these two cycles of good and challenging times. While it’s critical to continuously transform your thinking across both these times to future proof your business, it is very natural to only think of change and transformation during challenging times.
Does this mean we let challenging times put us down? Absolutely not. We might not have control over time, but our brains are a part of us that we have full control over to ensure nothing, not even time can control it. Just as any industry, our industry is currently faced with a set of challenges, however, the 3c’s can be identified as the most common but pressing ones:
The competitive landscape has drastically evolved in the recent years whereby businesses aren’t competing in Tiers of 3 any longer but are competing against anyone who is offering the same, in some instances, similar service to brands and experiences to consumers at a better value. It is this reason that is encouraging start ups, giving rise to boutique/specialized agencies, consultancies and in some cases brands themselves to set up in-house services as their set ups allow for a cost advantage.
Complexity has impacted everyone. Be it consumers, businesses or marketeers. We need to acknowledge that despite the positives fueled via Omni-Channel experiences, it has created an extremely complex environment, for consumers who are being flooded with communication from brands within multiple categories and their competitors, for businesses that need to continuously and effectively adapt with agility by providing solutions for the constant change in consumer behavior and finally marketeers that need to engage with multiple stakeholders that own specific channels within a company, to invest their time with them in ensuring to devise a bespoke approach across the multiple channels to effectively communicate their message. All these factors put together has created a phobia among marketeers to vest their interest and investments with a single company as they believe it makes it harder for them to move while not seeing synergies that can be delivered from a product, cost or an ROI perspective.
Cost is the most critical factor that not only defines the health of a business but has a direct implication of it on its bottom line. Unfortunately, despite proven constantly over many years, via various marketing science analysts, marketing investments still appear to be within the cost side of marketing P&L’s as opposed to the revenue side. This continues to fuel a short-sighted approach as marketing investments are not yet seen as ROI drivers but are instead being considered as additional weight that can be chopped off as required and based on convenience.
In order to overcome these challenges, differentiate themselves, build trust and equity with brands, companies need to focus on “Transforming their Thinking” to make decisions that enable the calling for their good times, faster.
The top 3 decisions that would matter the most are the Approach they take, the Synergies they create and the Process they formulate.
If consulting companies want to be an integrated partner to brands, they need to own the brand. The first step of becoming an integrated partner is to have a Consumer led Business Performance Approach. An approach that is devised to acquire and be remunerated based on business KPI’s that are mutually set between brands and consulting companies. This, however, contributes to only 50%. For optimal functioning of this approach, brands need to equally contribute to this relationship by trusting their partners and operating with full transparency.
With the constant advancement of technology that has reshaped the consumer behavior and expectations giving rise to a non-linear journey via multiple channels of communication, it has become increasing important for consulting companies to have synergy at the top of their structural agenda by creating an environment for their talent that allows for specialists within different cross functional disciplines to gain from each other to transform themselves and their companies via a one on one interaction between brands and consumers through a people-based marketing approach infused by data led solutions.
Consulting companies need to equip their talent by partnering and investing in best in class technology to innovate by blending it with human emotion and deliver seamless consumer experiences that not just create short lived impact but result in effective solutions that enables the optimization of cost that can positively impact the bottom line of their businesses. Brands on the other hand need to have an eye for synergies demonstrated by consulting companies and accordingly find an integrated partner who they can completely trust to consolidate their marketing investments with.
The dynamic nature of the industry we operate within today demands beyond agility and adaption to acquire a competitive edge and be an industry leader. The output of any action is a result of the collaborative input that goes into it. Given any instance, even with the best in class talent, technology, product or service, we know that nothing works in silos. Consulting companies today need an end to end process that works in harmony with technology and allows their talent to create valuable consumer experiences that deliver business performance.
So, the question is, are you ready to transform your thinking? Because if you aren’t, your competition may have already started to build an edge over you.