Matthew Carlton
Feb 10, 2015

2015 Marketers' Outlook: It's never been more important for marketers to step up

ASIA-PACIFIC - With the launch of the 2015 Marketers' Outlook survey, conducted in association with Ipsos, Campaign Asia-Pacific asked Ruth Rowan, CMO AMEA for BT and chair of The Marketing Society in Asia, what path she believes the industry will take this year.

Rowan: Thanks to transparency, marketers will need to take more responsibility for colleagues' behaviour
Rowan: Thanks to transparency, marketers will need to take more responsibility for colleagues' behaviour

The results of the 2015 marketers' Outlook Survey appear in the February Campaign Asia-Pacific, which is available to subscribers online in e-magazine form. We will be publishing highlights of the survey online tomorrow. 

In your opinion, what is the current level of optimism among marketers and how does it compare to this time last year?

Pretty positive, particularly in this part of the world. Clearly there’s still a lot of uncertainty in all our markets as the economy stutters along and the geopolitical world continues to be disruptive. All of this has a knock on effect on our customers, be they consumers or other businesses. However, our ability as marketers to refine our products, messages and better communicate to our customers is improving at a pace we’ve not seen before. So, in uncertain markets, I’d say there’s never been a more important time for marketers to step up.

Which sectors are likely to invest the most in marketing in 2015? Do you foresee any notable increases/decreases?

Difficult for me to comment on this as I can only really comment on my own sector. As the world shrinks, it’s clear that most of our industries are becoming more competitive. New entrants are getting to market, and acquiring market share more quickly than ever before and we are seeing many brands, previously considered unbreakable, disappear. In this context, it’s really important that marketers help organisations understand and articulate their unique value and build on this to ensure we stay competitive.

What do you expect marketers’ key objectives to be in 2015?

I don’t see this changing dramatically—but what I do see change is how we achieve these objectives. For example, we’ll continue to be responsible for defining and building our brands. But in a world where organisations are increasingly transparent (through social media), we will need to take more responsibility for how our colleagues behave and what they say for example. Internal comms and employee branding will become a greater focus for all of us. Linked to this, we will need marketing to be stapled to the end-to-end customer experience and help ensure this is as simple and seamless as possible.

What will be their priorities for development/investment?

I see three trends. Firstly, we’ll continue to make sense of the tsunami of data that is now coming into our organisations, and to turn this into actionable insight. Secondly, our ability to engage our customers with something that is really compelling will become increasingly difficult. Every day the noise in our market increases as more and more channels come online—finding a way to engage emotionally with our customers, even in the B2B space, will require increasing investment both to indentify and to activate. Finally, I see a need for us to invest in talent in marketing. As our industry becomes more complex, our organisations more highly matrixed, we’ll need more senior people with broader skills to lead marketing organisations in the future. We’ll need to invest in all of these areas as we move through 2015.

What are marketers concerned about? What keeps them awake at night?

Thankfully very little keeps me awake at night, but I’m always concerned about our scorecard and underlying business metrics. Contributing to this, the things I don’t yet know the answer to, so are in the category of concern, are the following:

  • Transparency: How do we ensure that everything we say is rooted in absolute truth and we can execute against. You only have to look at the Twitter feeds of celebrity passengers at airline check-ins that don’t get the service they want to see the problem here.
  • End-to-end design for customers: How can we make everything easier for our customers, product more intuitive, make working with us quicker and paying bills less painful. As someone said to me recently, no one needed to read an instruction book to use Facebook so how do we bring that mentality into B2B?
  • Compelling, engaging content: Still a big challenge for the B2B sector where, if we are honest, so much of our content is boring. How can we speak in simpler English with a story that excites our customers more?
  • Change: As the world around us speeds up, the one thing that will be constant is our need to change with it. And the ability of us and our teams to be as agile as possible.

Who are marketers looking to for guidance?

I’m seeing us increasingly look beyond both our industry sectors and other marketers for inspiration and guidance. For example, big businesses are starting to learn lessons from startup entrants on product and service design.


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