This year’s Festival of Marketing was an unparalleled source of insight into what marketers are grappling with on a day-to-day basis, and how best to meet these challenges and deliver for their customers. Here are some of the things we learned from 2023’s Festival partners:
1. The role of AI and innovation will only grow
It became clear at FoM that innovation is going to be even more central to marketing moving forward. That accounts for new technologies such as AI, which is already having a big impact on marketing businesses, but also simply in how agencies deliver for clients on a day-to-day basis.
Sue Mountford, CEO at Team ITG, says: “What is apparent is that brands and agencies who are slow to adopt a technology-led approach to their marketing are going to be left behind, as customer demand for more personalised, localised content grows – fast.”
Automating processes through marketing technology has gone from a ‘nice option’ to absolutely imperative in recent years, particularly in creative production, where manual tasks are often the cause of stretched budgets and missed deadlines. Creative automation alleviates these issues by enabling businesses to instantly create high-volume, high-quality marketing content that’s automatically tailored for their various channels and global markets, while liberating talented creatives to focus on brand storytelling.
“It’s an issue we’ve tackled within our business, and one we continue to support our clients with,” Mountford says.
“Tying into it is the increasing need for collaboration and efficiency in marketing operations. Martech helps drive these efficiencies, but we’re also seeing brands who want their agencies to provide an end-to-end service, moving away from ‘large division groups’. These days, more and more of our clients want a single creative agency that delivers for them both at brand level, and from an ROI perspective.”
2. Brands should be part of the community on TikTok
For brands to gain real traction on TikTok, it’s not enough to just show up with a content schedule and a marketing playbook. Engaging, authentic, native-feeling content will go a long way, but the real prize lies in meaningful community engagement.
“It’s about building trust through real connections, rather than this unhealthy obsession in our industry of grabbing attention through distraction tactics,” said Charlotte Parkes from TikTok’s marketing solutions team, speaking at a FoM workshop. “You need to deliver entertaining content that people actually want to see, rather than advertising that they try to block out.”
Community engagement can give brands a competitive advantage: “It drives trust as well as brand performance,” Parkes points out. “This is a step-change in brand communications. Being ‘always in’ allows brands to be active, responsive and actually useful.”
3. Authenticity is key to grabbing audiences’ attention
In order to tap the full potential of today’s digital channels and opportunities, brands need to rethink how they craft content and cultivate relationships with online audiences.
It begins with getting to grips with what makes customers tick, according to Caroline Orange-Northey, head of lifestyle industries at Amazon Ads, speaking at FoM. “We start with the customer,” she said. “Where are they? Why are they there? How are they consuming content? We work really hard to understand the time and the place to make messaging that’s relevant, that resonates and is sticky.”
This level of insight in turn helps to build genuine relationships with audiences. “When people feel seen and heard, that’s when they reciprocally pay attention,” added Orange-Northey.
4. Marketing must focus on both sales today and loyalty tomorrow
All brands face the same quandary of whether it is better to prioritise acquisition or retention to drive growth. What makes more financial sense, adding more customers or getting increased revenue through existing clients?
For clothing retailer, Boden, the answer is not to choose between the two but rather use a balance of lifetime value for existing customers and predicted lifetime value for prospects, to guide where budget should go. As the company’s performance marketing and CRM director Jamie Irving told attendees at FoM, decisions also need to be balanced between immediate sales and the longer-term value of retaining loyal shoppers. In a session entitled ‘Acquire or Retain? That is the Question’, hosted by relationship marketing specialist Marigold, he outlined how decisions are made at Boden.
“It comes down to a balance between profit and growth and, for us, how much we can risk in-year versus how much we can risk in three to five to 10 years,” he explained.
“Lifetime value is a massive part of how we look at the success of our business, and that’s both for retention and acquisition. I know it’s often spoken about mainly as an acquisition driver. We see it as a really key instrument in valuing and deciding, who can we spend money on?”
Read more about finding the sweet spot for customer lifetime valueTo find out how you can partner with the Festival of Marketing in 2024, contact email@example.com.