The colouring-in department

Iain McInnes of McInnes Communications discusses how has the marketing landscape changed over the last year, and what new ideas are on the horizon in the next 12 months.

Marketing was founded on the four Ps of price, product, promotion and place, and yet for the last five years, digital marketing has seemingly taken precedence over everything else. While it can provide marketers with a unique way in which to address the target audience in a one-to-one relationship and with exacting metrics, it cannot be implemented in isolation.

The most successful campaigns are those that are multi-faceted and cleverly integrated with e-mailers, advertising, sales promotion, social media, video content and PR elements and, importantly, the sales function.

Nor should campaigns be solely focused on new business, as improving communications links with existing customers builds loyalty, trust and sometimes greater sales volumes. We should look at examples of outstanding marketing campaigns in other business-to-business sectors and through consumer channels for further inspiration.

E-mail campaigns in some industries are almost reaching saturation point, and so the metrics and ROI five years ago are a mere distant relative, in comparison to what can be achieved today. We are also further faced with the consequences of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May.

Independent of the impending legislation, some companies are now looking to revert back to physical direct mail, and I would suggest that the returns could be significant, with careful execution and integration within the marketing mix and sales function.

With vast improvements and personalisation in digital printing in recent years, it’s more than a compelling opportunity, with relatively low unit costs through careful customer targeting and profiling. So, will direct mail challenge e-mail marketing in 2018? Not en masse, but it could well be one of the marketing trends for 2018.

Marketing is a fluid business discipline requiring expert management and with “strategic thinking emerging as the most important skill for marketers, 2018 will be the year references to ‘the colouring-in department’ die a death’, according to a recent article in Marketing Week by Charlotte Rogers in December, 2017.

The same article goes on to suggest that “in fact, 82% of the more than 600 marketers surveyed believe the need for sales and commercial awareness will only grow in importance”. What was once the isolated department of marketing, is now an important and fully integrated hub in all businesses entities, with the perceived void with the sales department narrowing all the time.

But what about PR and corporate communications? Well, they are more important than ever before, and an external business resource must bring in an element of fresh thinking and consideration. Such companies and consultants need to be able to offer clients much more than typical marketing services and help minimise marketing spend wastage, with an expert and guiding hand.

The days of writing and distributing copy only may have gone, and now strategic thinking and an ability to add brand and corporate value have come to the fore. Many companies will claim their respective abilities, but I would suggest few can back this up with tangible evidence, as we have done over the years with some of the most successful brands in the fenestration sector.

New trends will inevitably emerge in 2018, including direct marketing, and there are also the added consequences of the GDPR legislation to consider. Marketers need to think strategically within the confines of a business, not just within the marketing department, and this premise should extend to all external PR and corporate communications services.

So, has the colouring-in department come of age? I certainly believe it’s heading that way.