Marketing is best kept simple: Interview with Charterhouse

By Chris Lee

In the multi-channel world of 2013, marketers have a tendency to overcomplicate matters when simplicity is what is really required. That is the argument of David Fincham, business development director at marketing services production company, Charterhouse.

New Media Knowledge caught up with him to gauge his views on keeping it simple.

You say marketing is best kept simple. How?

Marketing is a discipline that is entering new realms with little creative boundary. As more and more new concepts and channels come into play and marketing campaigns more complex, it’s becoming increasingly important to identify opportunities to simplify things.

For example, how a marketer approaches these new marketing opportunities and chooses to integrate them with the wider marketing function will have a big effect on the efficiency of how marketing assets are produced. The production of marketing materials, distinct from the creative process, is one area that is ripe for industrialisation. Although many still resist it, collaboration with the procurement team is key to making this happen.

Why does marketing production now need to take a more collaborative approach in order to be more efficient?

We are now in a world where integrated, multi-channel marketing is necessary to have any chance of cutting through the noise and stay ahead of competition. Especially for big brands, this means producing and coordinating more brand assets than ever before, meaning more suppliers, more expressions of the brand, more costs and also more opportunities for things to go wrong. Tackling production in this environment is becoming a more complex and costly issue for both marketing and procurement professionals.

The economic climate doesn’t leave much wriggle room either. Marketers are feeling the pressure from board members to be delivering the best return on investment on decreasing budgets, so they should be thinking about identifying and removing inefficiencies in their current marketing activities.

How are marketers approaching this challenge?

Many marketers go down what they assume to be the most logical and easy route by tying marketing production into agency contracts – different silos for different services. But, while this may seem like one less thing for marketers to think about, it has some serious drawbacks. A siloed approach can lead to high levels of inefficiency, duplication of effort, risk of brand inconsistency and unnecessary costs.

Charterhouse’s own research found that Europe’s Top 500 businesses could be wasting up to €716m a year when purchasing marketing products and services. Much of this is down to inefficient purchasing and duplicated production tasks across multiple agencies. Bringing this under control is a big opportunity.

Can you give us some best practice pointers here?

There is a better way to go about marketing procurement. By taking the creative and production pieces apart – and decoupling to an external agency, marketers are able to focus on the things that make a difference.

The relationship between marketing and procurement is key to driving marketing production efficiency. Collaborative working needs to be adopted across all areas of the marketing campaign. At the moment this happens largely in print and pre-press, but the opportunities are much broader.

It is still early days for digital as the creative process and production are so closely linked, but this can and will change.

So, in summary, a more integrated, collaborative approach between marketing and procurement is desperately needed. Nowadays, businesses want to see maximum return on investment. When done well, decoupled production can truly transform a brand’s speed to market and overall efficiency. Marketing really works best when kept simple, involving as few stakeholders as possible. Confucius did say that life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated and I couldn’t agree more.

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