What marketers need to stop, start, and continue doing in 2024

As we look forward to the year ahead, some of Marketing Week’s roster of columnists have taken a step back to provide a to-do list for the year ahead. Here, they share their thoughts on what behaviours, approaches, attitudes and practices should be reconsidered, ramped up and maintained.

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Grace Kite, founder and managing director of Magic Numbers

Stop: Wasting money on performance marketing that targets people who were going to buy from you anyway.

Marketers also need to stop reporting numbers from last click or multi-touch attribution to the board – they’re just not suitable for decision making at that level.

Start: Using YouTube and other online video more and in more interesting ways. This is an under-utilised channel for brand building.

Relatedly, start investing in your team. There’s amazing training available for marketing people, and it can fit in around full time jobs. Better trained people will improve the effectiveness of everything you do.

Continue: Measuring how your marketing is working. Many businesses will have a tricky 2024; the economy is not easy. Getting the most from every single £1 in the budget matters more than ever.

Stop reporting numbers from last click or multi-touch attribution to the board – they’re just not suitable for decision making at that level.

Grace Kite, Magic Numbers

To do that, keep working with finance. Continuing high rates of inflation, means price will still be a factor. Marketing has to represent the customer in these discussions, or the risk is raising prices too high and losing out badly.

Jon Evans, chief customer officer at System1Group

Stop: Marketers need to stop taking themselves too seriously. News that Cannes Lions is introducing a category for humour is a sign that perhaps we have reached peak purpose and are rediscovering that advertising should really be a form of entertainment. As the brilliant Sarah Carter at adam&eveDDB said, planning starts with the realisation that the customer doesn’t give a shit.

Start: Believing in AI. I started the year as an AI sceptic and ended believing it will transform more of the marketing industry than we realise. Its ability to be good enough at a lot of the more mundane aspects of a marketer’s job and deliver it extremely quickly and cheaply is impressive.

We need, therefore, to start valuing creativity, human collaboration, innovation and ways of learning. If we can learn to use AI well and combine it with human ingenuity it will be a very interesting year.

Continue: Doing what works. The standout brands of 2023 from start ups like Lucky Saint to challengers like Aldi and category leaders like Guinness all had one thing in common – they didn’t change. Instead they really understood what works and focused on continuously executing to a very high standard. Let’s hope more brands take that lead and change less in 2024. It won’t make for as many headlines but might make for a better bottom line. As Jeff Bezos famously said: “tell me what won’t change in the next ten years”.

The AI-powered Google apocolypse is heading for your brand

Helen James, CEO, CPB Europe

Stop: Thinking only about reach. Zuckerberg won’t tell you this, but not all platforms are created equally when it comes to capturing attention (and Meta is actually pretty terrible.) It all comes down to the high-speed scrolling nature of Instagram and Facebook, which severely impacts ‘viewability’, aka the number of milliseconds and seconds someone spends engaging with an ad.

Given what we know about the magic 2.5 seconds needed if a brand is to have a hope in hell of creating all-important memory structures and thus mental availability, it’s frightening that 85% of Facebook and IG assets tested don’t reach that critical threshold. This doesn’t mean we should forget Meta, but reach without attention is an empty and failed metric.

Start: Prioritising attention. At its core, marketing is, of course, pretty simple – ensuring the target audience remembers, and then actually chooses, a given brand at the point of purchase.

If no one has been paying attention to that brand’s marketing, then we can safely say it’s an investment wasted. All too often brand marketing looks the same across a category and, as such, is easily ignored. If an ad doesn’t reach the attention-memory threshold of 2.5 seconds, it’s as if it never happened.

Continue: Entertaining. If we’re going to prioritise attention, we have to create brands and campaigns worth paying attention to. It’s all about putting your audience first and understanding what they want to see and hear. And the number one reason people watch content online? Because it’s funny.

If we’re going to prioritise attention, we have to create brands and campaigns worth paying attention to.

Helen James, CPB London

TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform not because of its ability to connect you with friends you never see and not for posing in pictures. It’s because it’s an entertainment platform. So much marketing today is chock full of rational messaging, achingly serious, and sales pitchy (which is ridiculous given we know no one likes feeling they’re being sold to.)

Luckily, our understanding of this piece is improving, and as Kantar research has shown, since the pandemic, we’ve seen a steady uptick in funny ads returning to our TV screens. Long may this trend continue.

Andrew Tenzer, co-founder of Burst Your Bubble 

Stop: Looking to technology to solve every marketing challenge. Over the past year, marketers have taken their obsession of new technologies to even greater heights. Have a read of 2024 trend decks and you’ll see exactly what I mean. You can’t move for talk of generative AI and how it’s going to revolutionise and solve marketing’s biggest challenges.

With marketers positioning themselves as social warriors, there has also been a lot of discussion about technology tackling some of society’s biggest problems such as sustainability. One CMO recently compared AI to the invention of electricity in its transformational impact. We need to scale back our ‘techno optimism’, and stop placing blind faith in technology always being the answer.

Start: Seeing tech as a tool, not a destination. We must come to terms with the fact that while technology can be an enabler to great marketing – it is a means to an end rather than the end in itself. The starting point should always be to seek human solutions rather than technological ones.

Continue: Investing in understanding the consumer. I worry that techno optimism takes marketers further away from the fundamentals of marketing. We must continue to place great importance on market orientation, and developing a deep understanding of the customer out there in the real world.

Brands’ biggest AI opportunity is in making customers believe the bullshit

Helen Edwards, director of Passionbrand

Stop: Looking for a one-size fits all solution to marketing: people are different, categories are different, brands are different. Also, speeding through the strategy process with ‘scrums’ and ‘squads’ and the like. Give strategy the time it needs and then you will save time on execution.

Start: Executing faster. All that testing – is it really necessary if we know the strategy is right? Secondly, getting out of the communications bunker and using all the levers of marketing. To do that, you need to work across the organisation.

Get out of the communications bunker and using all the levers of marketing.

Helen Edwards, founder Passionbrand

Continue: Being the voice of the consumer and the conscience of the business – because you know that business value comes from adding value to people’s lives.

Andrew Geoghegan, chief marketing and transformation officer at PZ Cussons

Stop: Worrying about all the on-going uncertainty.

Start: Putting together the boldest, most imaginative plans you can muster to entertain and attract new customers.

Continue: Finding joy in your work despite always having to have plans b, c, d, e, and f for all the things that might happen despite your best intentions.

Joe Glover, co-founder of The Marketing Meet-Up

Stop: Seeking partisan views, and embrace nuance. One example of this is the conversation around AI. The chatter often fits into one of two camps: “AI is going to change everything” or “it’s nothing on a human being”. The truth almost always lays somewhere in the middle. Fundamentally this is about having a curious mindset, being willing to listen, and seeking opportunities to learn.

Start: Thinking about collaboration with the broader team. Begin 2024 by placing a focus on communication with non-marketing colleagues. Too often I see the narrative of ‘marketing vs.’ other business functions. Next year will be another year of tight budgets so changes such as how Chrome deals with cookies will make direct digital attribution even harder.

We have all the evidence we need that investing in the long term helps companies win. But we need to be able to take our colleagues on a journey of understanding why we’re doing, what we’re doing so our value becomes undeniable.

This starts with clear communication, a curiosity about our colleague’s world, and an open mind about how we approach our work. Marketing is both internal and external.

Continue: Learning and improving. It’s easy to forget how much progress has been made in such a short amount of time. A short list of transformative things that have happened in recent marketing history might include the publication of the Long and Short of It, or the launch of Marketing Week’s Mini MBA.

This is stuff that we can build on in 2024. The information is there – we just have to keep on digesting and using it.



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