There’s a crisis brewing in the marketing industry and it’s not because of the growth of digital or the shrinking of television viewers. While those issues are certainly real – and legitimately causing shifts in how we connect with our targets – they are also creating a new results-driven anxiety among clients and agencies that is sometimes getting in the way of the great strategies. It’s a state of mind that – if not treated – has the potential to completely commoditize our industry. Let’s call it marketing envy.
Marketing envy affects both clients and agencies though it manifests itself differently. On the client side, there’s the desire to do the same thing or one-up brands renowned for a marketing success – in other words, be the next Oreo (real time marketing) or Old Spice (viral video) or Biogen Idec (patient portals). But by framing the marketing need in this way, clients are pre-defining the desired tactics and, as a result, de-valuing creative thought. The risk is that tactics become commodities – chosen for what they’ve done for others but not necessarily for whether or not they are right for the brand in question.
From the agency perspective, there’s pressure to constantly sell in the latest capability and show that the agency has the skills and knowledge to deliver the marketing technique that’s trending. Media exacerbates this problem: search “real time marketing” on Google and you’ll find 457 million entries. Today, an agency not talking about real time marketing appears not to have its finger on the pulse but an agency talking about it too much is, like the client who wants to be like Oreo, putting a solution (but not necessarily the right solution) before the problem. This specific request/project work is turning agencies into vendors instead of the strategic counselors they once were.
So how does a marketing executive get the most value from his or her agency partner and avoid falling into the marketing envy trap? The answer lies within the brand itself. Instead of starting with a vision of what the output should look like or a brand to emulate, start with the most basic questions: Who are we trying to reach and what need are we answering? How do we a) convince the target we can meet his or her need and b) encourage the target to see for him/herself?
Always coming back to those questions will ensure a thoughtful, brand- and target-appropriate marketing solution that will – in the eyes of the target (the most important eyes for business success) – make your brand the new must-have. An added bonus? Start with these key questions and stay true to your target and you’re very likely to become the subject of someone else’s marketing envy.
We Asked, Marketing Executives Answered