Russell Parsons: It may feel chaotic, but it’s a good time to be a marketer

It has been a bizarre and challenging year, with Brexit set to cause more headaches for marketers in 2017, but that also presents an opportunity to surprise and delight your customers.

“Bonkers” was how one marketer recently described 2016 to me. As seismic, serious and shocking as events have been, there is no better way to sum up 2016.

From David Bowie to Leonard Cohen, from Leicester City to Portugal, from Brexit to Donald Trump, I have lost count of the number of times I have delivered a piece of news and was met with a quizzical, then resigned, “really?”.

As the year draws to a close it is incumbent upon us to try and make some sense of it all, while looking forward to seeing how events of this year may impact the world next year. We have kick-started the conversation here at Marketing Week with a series of articles giving our view of 2016, as well as looking forward to the coming trends in 2017.

2017 will be the year that Brexit bites.

Whether you agree with our prediction that we are entering a ‘post-truth’ age or whether marketers could benefit from the ‘Trump effect’ – emotion-based message + earned media + reducing your competition to an afterthought = campaign success – these articles are meant as a conversation starter.

READ MORE: 2016 Year in Review

One prediction that I would challenge anyone to disagree with is that Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 will have a negative impact on UK plc, in the short term at least. Despite the recent Bellwether report and others predicting media spend will grow this year and well-placed sources telling me that marketing recruitment levels are holding steady and even increasing, 2017 will be the year that Brexit bites.

First up, rising prices. The ‘hedges’ that allow retailers to mitigate against the worst of the impact of a weak pound will soon disappear, leading to wholesale price hikes for many and subsequent pressure on margins. How long can retailers maintain the cycle of price cuts and hold out against higher prices charged by suppliers?

READ MORE: Mark Ritson – A ‘hard Brexit’ will be harder on marketers than anyone

We had a taster with the Unilever/Tesco spat. Expect many more. Those brands that have an honest dialogue and innovate to mitigate the pressure will win.

So, things will be tough but far from impossible in 2017. Data and the demand for accountability mean marketers are better equipped to demonstrate effectiveness. Technology, meanwhile, still opens up possibilities to new and old brands and marketers alike to disrupt, delight and deliver for customers. The events of 2016 will lead to consequences in 2017 but it’s still a darn good time to be a marketer.

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