I often say I’ve seen more change in the past five years as chief marketing and communications officer of Unilever than I did in the 25 years I was in business before that, and it’s not a statement I make just for dramatic effect. As the author and consultant Shelly Palmer has said, the pace of change will never be this slow again.
The connected world and ubiquity of technology have revolutionised the consumer journey, involving a complex, multiple-device process, which leaves a digital trail littered with numerous relevant moments where a brand could engage. We have moved to an era where data, algorithms and analytics rule. This has a knock-on effect on our marketers and their day-to-day.
At Unilever, we remain focused on driving a quality digital ecosystem and raising the bar for the industry. To do this, we equip our marketers with the right tools and skills needed to navigate a rapidly changing world as the complexities and challenges are not going to go away.
Our marketers are trained to join the digital dots, create great digital assets and improve the three Vs of viewability, verification and value. This means seeing one consumer, one budget and therefore needing one measurement system across the industry, allowing us all to create a more efficient media market. In order to build transparency into the system, we need to track and transact across our entire media spend and start to measure total audiences.
The next aspect of training revolves around the consumer: we must always firmly put people at the heart of what we do. A brand’s role should be to anticipate and assist the needs of the people it serves.
We all know the battle for attention has never been greater. At Unilever, we are increasingly focused on ‘seek-out’ content that provides solutions to questions consumers are actively asking or appeals to their passion points. Take cleaning as an example: we know that people search for problems, not products. We saw this as an opportunity to create Cleanipedia, a portal powered by search that can match cleaning problems with cleaning tips, solutions and products. We have had more than 28 million people visiting Cleanipedia and have a number one Google ranking, meaning we come up first for cleaning searches.
And finally, live the space, get out there and understand what a global marketplace connected by technology looks and feels like. We would never ask a marketer who has only ever heard a radio ad to make a TV ad, but we seemingly routinely expect marketers who have little social engagement or presence to create efficient digital campaigns. It’s madness.
It can certainly feel overwhelming at times to face this new world order. But I genuinely believe it has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer. Even some millennials who are digital natives were born before the creation of the world wide web, so the opportunity for growth is huge for us all.
Keith Weed is chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever