Accelerating Speed to Marketing: Exploring the Means to Improve Visibility

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As an industry, marketing often looks to itself and to history for clues about the coming evolution of our field. We have not generally looked to broader business solutions for insight into coming trends that marketers will have to wrestle with. Yet much can be learned from the ways key business leaders are driving “visibility” and “speed to market” within their organizations.

“Visibility” and “speed to market” sound like terms that might be used by Wal-Mart to describe shelf space inventory management or by Apple to describe their product roll-out plans (or challenges). Yet these same business aspects are becoming crucial success differentiators for marketers.

By “visibility”, I mean having the ability to see what is occurring with your marketing efforts — not just online, but cross-channel — before the results become stale and unusable. By “speed to market”, I mean the ability to quickly launch or optimize your marketing efforts based on this vision.

The reason that these two factors will likely differentiate winner from loser is that the marketing world is undergoing a tremendous fragmentation and marketing model upheaval.

Media Fragmentation: “Media fragmentation poses a challenge to advertisers in reaching more elusive consumers. This places a greater imperative on creating more effective marketing campaigns”, claims Bear Stearns Publishing & Advertising Agencies Analyst, Alexia S. Quadrani. Alexia highlights fragmentation as one of the major 2006 challenges facing agencies.

The only way to ensure fragmenting, marketing campaigns are effective is to have “visibility” into what is working (and not).

Mass-Customization: The tried and true mass marketing model is losing steam rapidly. As Howard Daft, CEO of his eponymous New York agency says, “In the past you would keep pounding the creative message out into the market place and look at reach frequency. Well, basically that is dead. What you have today is an informed consumer who is taking control of the way he learns and hears about products.”* What will replace the “broadcast” distribution model is a question of great concern to many marketers.

A new consumer-driven environment will require significant testing, and rapid course corrections — making “speed to market” to test and implement new media/creative marketing efforts a significant competitive advantage.

To provide clues for solving these challenges, let’s look to an industry that is embracing Fragmentation and Mass-Customization as a business model: the retail world. For major retailers, database-driven Intranets inform corporate staff each day of the year-over-year sales/margin of each store, department and product. Staffers can view month-to-date, quarter-to-date and year-to-date sales versus goal when they turn on their computers each morning. They can spot problems with product sales, particular stores, etc. and spend their time responding and being proactive. Imagine if you as a marketer had the ability to frequently view your marketing success vs. goal metrics, and could spend time each day improving your marketing effectiveness — across multiple media vehicles.

Search marketing has been an early indicator of the power of harnessing “visibility” and “speed to market” in marketing efforts. API computer connections between marketer and engine allow for computer “dashboard displays” of results and drill-down analysis of data – similar to the large retailers. Search marketers are able to view highly specific user-initiated keyword results across numerous search engines. Problems can be pinpointed, trends analyzed, and strategies for future growth based on current success can be laid out. “Speed to market” is accomplished by putting these changes in place rapidly through API connections and automated bidding solutions.

Now imagine that search is just the beginning. What about dashboards that incorporate all media? These tools are already out there and are improving daily. And what about connecting via API to manage/optimize Print and Radio buys? Google rolled out Google Print recently with ads in the Chicago Tribune and bought dMarc Broadcasting to automate Radio buying (and potentially optimization) with this vision in mind. Clearly this is a new world where “visibility” and “speed to market” will dictate success for marketers.

If I had to give this new marketing world a name, I would say we are entering the Intelligence era.


* “Crowned at last”, The Economist, March 31st 2005

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