Full-marks marketing

Andy Fennell’s call for marketers to take risks in aiming for ten out of ten performance is an inspiring one (Architect behind a global brand-branding mission, MW 3 June). But his message about the need to balance this with accountability for profitable growth and return on investment presents a difficult challenge. As Andy argues, achieving brilliant success might require some three out of ten failures along the way. So how can marketers minimise the potential commercial downsides of taking braver decisions?

There is no doubt that great marketers always aim high in the way that Fennell describes. But there is another characteristic which helps them address the risk dilemma – they also have a passionate desire to experiment and learn. Delivering brilliant marketing isn’t about taking a few gambles and hoping one or two come off. It requires an approach where innovative ideas are created, tested and refined with consumers in an environment where failures have limited impact. Big bets especially on global brands should only be placed when sufficient levels of evidence and confidence have been built up that they will pay off.

The recent dramatic growth of social media is creating exciting new opportunities to work in this way. By collaborating and innovating with consumers on a large scale, rather than just for them, marketers have new techniques available to sharpen their performance. Marketers need to extend their innovative mindset to evolving their own tools and ways of working if they are to take full advantage.

By approaching marketing in a more collaborative manner, rather than sticking to the more rigid, linear processes often established in large companies, a path to more systematic ten out of ten marketing may be found.

Andy Bird, co-founder/joint MD, Brand Learning

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