Simon Francis: saddle up for better marketing in 2014

Unknown-9Simon Francis, CEO of integrated marketing consultancy Flock Associates, suggests five New Year Resolutions for marketers, inspired by this year’s Chinese Year of the Horse.

In many cultures around the world the New Year is marked by people making ‘New Year Resolutions’ – promises to themselves to help them improve, and achieve their goals.

We thought we would write our Flock Marketing Integration New Year Resolutions, to help you celebrate the New Year and achieve your integrated marketing goals, wherever in the World you are.

In the western world we celebrate our New Year according to the Gregorian calendar on January 1. In Russia, Serbia, Macedonia and other countries that ran the Julian calendar, the New Year is celebrated on January 14. Until 1751 England celebrated New Year at the end of March, which actually seems quite sensible when you consider that’s when nature awakes in the UK. Nava Varsha (New Year) in India is celebrated in March-April. Wherever you are, and whenever you celebrate the New Year, we should all be thinking of how we can improve our marketing efforts in the year ahead.

Maybe we will be inspired by learning about the Chinese New Year. This Chinese New Year is the Year of the Horse. It begins on January 31 2014.

Flock-associates-New-years-blog-1The spirit of the Horse (adapted for people, horses don’t do finance as far as we’re aware) is important to the Chinese, mirroring their ethos.

They make relentless efforts to improve themselves

They are energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.

Ingenious with communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight.

They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career.

They like entertainment and large crowds.

However, they are independent and rarely listen to advice.

They usually have strong endurance but with bad temper.

Flamboyant by nature, they are wasteful since they are not good with matters of finance due to a lack of budgetary efficiency.

They tend to interfere in many things and frequently fail to finish projects of their own.

We thought there was a lot about the Horse to be admired, and some things to avoid, especially when considering integrated marketing!

So, using the Horse and the Chinese New Year as inspiration here are Flock’s five New Year Resolutions for marketers:


1/ Drive Relentless Improvement
This is not a project it is a mission!

2/ Use Ingenious Communication Devices

Flock-associates-New-Years-Blog-3Set up tests of new media stuff. The only way to learn is to experience things first hand. The average Fortune 100 company spends seven per cent of turnover on research and development, so how come the percentage amount spent on marketing testing is far, far less than that? If just five per cent of a company’s marketing budget, or any campaign, were designated for testing, the speed of learning and growth in efficiency and effectiveness would pay out very quickly. What are you testing this year?


3/ Seek Crowds and Entertainment

We all need to go to where the consumers are and engage them with entertaining and informative content. The days of ‘driving’ people to websites devoid of useful content are dead. We all need to find virtual and real communities and engage them. Have you figured out where your consumers really are, and have you drawn up compelling content plans to engage them? Do you really know what content will entertain and engage your communities at each stage of the customer journey? We run special cross-department and cross-agency customer journey sessions for our clients, and then plan out Content Calendars to help our clients engage with their communities. What about you?

4/ Try not to be wasteful – optimise budgets

The lack of science that still seems to accompany the setting of marketing budgets is amazing.

How do you build yours? Do you work from the objectives you need to achieve and work back to the budgets required to deliver them?

Do you build a list of initiatives and prioritise by likely return on marketing investment, then set budgets by department and by agency?

Or, like most marketing folk, do you haggle with someone else based on last year’s budget?

So, maybe you should re-optimise your budgets this year?

5/ Accept expert independent advice

One of the traits of those born under the Chinese Year of the Horse is that they are independent and will not accept advice. This is probably a very bad trait in today’s marketing landscape. In the fast moving marketing world it is just about impossible to know everything and do everything perfectly. That is why expert advice is required. That is why agencies are utilised. And clients should listen to their advice, as in the useful American expression: ‘Why have a dog and bark yourself?’

But all of the agencies you use have businesses to run so they are hardly impartial and independent. So how can you get the best of your agency advice, but without the downside?

This is where having advice ‘decoupled’ from agencies is useful, ie. someone who gets paid for independent advice not a creative, media or a technology product. Someone who can look ‘across’ the agencies, work with them, bring them together, and sort the good advice from that born of self-interest.

Who are you going to listen to this year?

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