Q: Morgan & Co launched exactly two decades ago this year. What’s been the most surprising shift in advertising since those early days?
Somewhere along the way, there was a dramatic shift in the conversations we’re having with our clients. Advertising and media were the primary focus of conversation. Today, business, revenue, and operational topics are just as common.
While a significant portion of our work revolves around acronyms like CTR, GRP, CPC, and CPM, we realized in our early years that such topics are irrelevant when it comes to running and growing a business. As a business owner myself, these aren’t things we discuss internally, so why should we expect our clients to discuss them?
Since that realization, the client conversations are about the bottom line – new client acquisition costs, capacity for new customers, defining the most profitable customer segments, and most importantly, establishing metrics that matter most to the leadership of the client.
Q: Where do you see the future of advertising heading in the next 10 years?
We see a lot of shiny new things out there – AI, driverless cars, automated systems. Short of those type of revolutionary shifts (some of which won’t survive as history has shown), we’ll continue to see a continued trial and error quest of connecting brands with consumers.
Digital and experiential will be at the forefront, partly at the expense of traditional vehicles. Some traditional forms clearly have a very bleak future and must re-invent themselves as we’ve been seeing on the print side (with its shift to digital). But I really don’t see all these dying off anytime soon.
At the same time, I see a greater need for “integration” between marketing investment and the operational side of clients. Too often departments within an organization are not connected, which hinders the sharing of information. It’s not intentional, just a holdover from when data and information weren’t given the priority or respect that they are now. With the realization of the value that lies in bringing customer retention or new patient admission information (values) to the conversation of marketing, there is a movement to connect more departments together.
This is something we’re discussing with clients. What is the best information a department other than marketing has? Who has it? How can we access it consistently to become smarter about the real business (bottom line) value marketing investment can generate? Think ROI, sales lift, customer retention, customer value growth.
Q: Why should a business that’s struggling through tough economic times invest in advertising?
When the economy slows down, the first thing on the chopping block is marketing/advertising. It’s an expense item on a P&L, and few organizations have an strong grasp on the true value it generates.
While your competition is making budget cuts, the platform is clear for you to become the main market authority and subsequently grab a share of the market. Actually, the simple practice of maintaining your marketing investment while others cut back will inherently generate a greater ROI in your investment.
Q: What’s the biggest advertising challenge facing businesses today?
Quantifying marketing’s return on investment, differentiation within the category, creating and executing a successful media campaign. Differentiation is one of the biggest challenges in many, if not all, industries. Too often organizations are saying the same thing their competition is already screaming from the hilltop. At that point, the product/service becomes a commodity based on price or some variable that reduces the brand to a transaction and not a valuable experience.
As for creating and executing a successful media campaign, it’s easy for businesses to get overwhelmed. Between determining the correct business metrics (which sometimes require buy-in), defining the most ideal audience segments, qualifying and correctly utilizing the vast array of media options, success is far from a given.
Often, the marketing team lacks the resources and tools (due to budgets) that allow for the accurate analysis of markets, audiences and media tactics. They don’t have the opportunity to work through these critical marketing exercises regularly. They don’t have regular contact with the media outlets. They don’t get to see marketing performance first hand on a daily basis. This is where an experienced marketing and advertising team comes in.
Q: How has the digital advertising space impacted the real world advertising spaces of billboards and benches?
If anything, the digital tactics have made offline tactics like billboards focus more on their true role in the media mix. OOH (Out Of Home – billboards, benches, etc) has always been a great tactic for achieving diverse marketing goals. It’s highly effective at generating frequency and achieving large reach in a market, for instance.
Branding is where it excels. With the highly targeted world of digital advertising, too often businesses lose sight of the need to brand and reach the masses. As such, OOH has had to re-orient itself to what it does best – branding, frequency, reach. We’ve been successful at this transition and have found OOH locations are in still demand.