The future of marketing

?The future of marketing is rapidly evolving, driven by digitisation, the proliferation of social media and changing consumer expectations.

These emerging trends, as well as the connection between creativity and marketing effectiveness, were discussed as a recent Effie Dialogue, hosted by GIBS and chaired by Chief Executive Officer and Creative Chairman of Ogilvy South Africa Pete Case.

Marketing and brand building activities are important drivers of market share and acquisition of new customers, General Manager of Brand and Communication at mobile network MTN Nomsa Mazibuko said.

Social media channels in South Africa are considered to be both engagement and ecommerce platforms Mazibuko explained, and research has shown that South Africans spend an average of 8,5 hours a day on their devices.

"The entire marketing mix has changed. Consumers are digital and we have seen a significant rise in the consumption of video content," she said. "As marketers, we have to become mobile first in our thinking and have to look across all platforms and go where the consumer is."

Data, digitisation and new tech

Vice President Marketing at AB InBev Vaughan Croeser said data science has fundamentally changed the way marketing works with its ability to analyse customer preferences. "Today, technology shapes our role as marketers."

Data enhances marketers' ability to track the business and connect with consumers, allowing for iterative messaging, Case explained.

Chief Creative Officer at Joe Public United Xolisa Dyeshana said the best client relationships are when the agency is given access to customer data, allowing for the creation of a real partnership through insight. "We understand what marketing can do. It has become critical to share information, especially in the context of the real time world."

"Data can inform strategy and creativity. It can be your worst nightmare, or your best friend, it depends how you interpret it," Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy, Camilla Clerke explained.

However, Dyeshana cautioned marketers not to allow data to stifle their creativity and sense of innovation: "Half of all brilliant ideas die at the hands of data and research," he said.

Creativity as a differentiator

"Creativity drives the desire for products and sales, and marketing has an important role to play as a key driver for growth," Croeser said. Marketing is an engine of organic growth for business, which needs to have a real belief in creativity and ensure that there are deliberate platforms and tools to enable people to deliver creative work, he added.

"Creativity is a differentiator," Dyeshana said. "The only way to achieve growth is through creativity. Clients expect a certain level of ability to package their proposal creatively for consumers. Clients are either brave, or willing to learn to be brave."

He said it is important to get finance and strategy behind creativity, and it is the responsibility of HR to hire the right people and give them opportunities to grow.

Dyeshana added that it is often possible for marketers to do less brand interventions, that can have more impact, rather than "speaking loudly at the consumer. For consumers, it is just about the brand showing up. So much of what we do ends up being wallpaper."

The appropriate combination of creativity and effectiveness seeks to understand the problem the business is facing, who the consumer is and the local and global context, Clerke said. Finally, marketers must take into account the client's budgetary constraints.

Purpose-driven brand building

Can purpose-driven, brand-building work lead to increased sales?

The state of the economy means there is increasing pressure from clients on short-term sales, rather than a predisposition to place investment into long-term purpose brand-building work.

South African brands have "a huge amount of influence and have a responsibility to do purposeful work that will make a difference to the country, even if the impact is not immediate," Clerke argued.

Consumers care for brands and how they behave beyond product and price, and purpose-driven work does lead to increased sales. "I am a firm believer that it leads to a more respected, more powerful and uplifted brand that will then translates into sales," she added. "Be brave. When you aren't, creativity dies."

"While there is huge pressure for short-term sales, it should not be a choice between brand building or sales. There is a time for both," Dyeshana argued.

Croeser said that brands must be clearly positioned and sure of their place and role in society. This requires strong relationships between brand partners and teams. "It comes with risk and needs grit, as some ideas take time to make and go through a few evolutions."

"Creativity and effectiveness are two sides of the same coin," Dyeshana concluded. "Clients have to trust us, as it is our job to be close to the consumer in terms of storytelling."

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