Interview Transcript

Lisa, can you provide some context to how the marketing function structure has evolved, over the last 15 to 20 years?

The marketing function, as well as marketing structure, I would say. But marketing function has evolved, most recently, I would say in the last 10 years, if that. Historically, marketing communication was limited to earned/paid. You had limited channels. You were looking at print, you were looking at broadcast and out of home, perhaps. Those were the three areas where you would, actually, engage with your potential customer, for any kind of brand awareness or brand messaging.

Today, fast forward, with the internet, as well as the increase in technology, the amount of channels in which you engage or where your potential customer could find you, has exploded, through the various social channels, through the internet, through the traditional, which is still there – the print, the out of home, broadcast, radio. It’s much more diverse; it’s much more fragmented. This has created a bigger challenge for marketers today, from not only a strategic perspective, but also from a skillset requirement and internal organizational structure. It’s fast. Everything is very fast. A lot of it can be tracked, with real key performance indicators, KPIs. Some of it still can’t. It’s really trying to understand, in real time, the efficacy of the strategy. The beauty is, you can change it in real time, unlike 10 years ago. Then, you bought an ad, you committed, you signed a contract, you put in your purchase order, you ran it. There was very little flexibility.

Today, you can look at a week’s worth of digital advertising and, based on insights, tweak it. That’s great, but it then requires a whole new requirement of data extraction, analysis and a team that can pivot and move, based on what you’re seeing.

What typical silos have you found in both large organizations, with different functions within them, but also within the marketing functions, in these big corporates?

I think, what I’ve seen most, and the last two companies I’ve worked for have had tremendous growth, so I had an opportunity to meet and interview hundreds of people. What I found, most of the time, were that the organization structures, internally, particularly from legacy companies – companies who have been around and are established – that the org was very much from the past, when business ran in a certain way and when the customer was, less so, in the driver’s seat. This meant that the brand was, basically, dictating to the customer, here’s the product you need; here’s why you’re going to buy it. Here’s why it suits you.

Whereas today, because of the fragmentation of the marketing communication landscape, and the amount of information that the consumer has and the research they do, they are now much more in the driver’s seat. The requirement for the company, in order to create a coherent, consistent ecosystem of brand, has to have, in real time, this integrated approach, because the customer has it. For any young person – millennial or Z – it’s a natural habit to research, to consume on various channels, various platforms, sometimes at the same time. They’re very aware, they’re very educated, whether it be brand story, brand promise, even price check. That puts a great onus on the brand, to be in step, which means that there are multiple departments, within the company, not just in the marketing comms team, but across the company and organization, from customer service, to product, to retail – whether it’s online or brick and mortar – to the marketing. They all need to be in step. It’s incredibly challenging and the orgs don’t, typically, really address this. They’re from, as I said, a legacy time. It creates a lot of havoc. It doesn’t set professionals up to really succeed, in my opinion. It doesn’t, necessarily, allow for the best outcome, in terms of your return on investment.

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