Tebogo Motsepe, Head: Brand and Client Insights: Nedbank CIB, was a speaker at the Nedbank IMC Conference on 29 July. His topic was: ‘The Matrix. Fate vs. free will for marketers’. He said organisations are paying increased attention to the efforts of marketing teams. This level of scrutiny brings a desire to please internal stakeholders. The end result is that marketers end up with work that feels uninspired and feeling like they are not in control.
‘How do we elevate ourselves and our craft back to the level we all believe it should be? Back to where we had the impact we had in our dreams and ultimately feel like we have control and can navigate The Matrix we find ourselves in?’ he asked.
The idea of the Matrix is that this world we find ourselves in is being pulled over our eyes – that there is something better that we have forgotten about just on the other side. Most importantly, it is up to us what we do with this information. ‘I hate the idea that we as marketers are not in control of our work. But it is not that we don’t have control, it is more that we gave it up.’
In The Matrix, the character Morpheus said: ‘You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life: that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth.’
Motsepe said this might have an element of truth to marketers in organisations. ‘What you tend to find is we gave up that control. What we set out to do versus what we find ourselves doing end up being different. The ideal that we dreamt of and the reality that we find ourselves in need to merge.’
‘Similar to what Morphues did, I’ll give you options. You can either take the blue pill and carry on as you were – doing uninspired work to please the powers that be – or you take the red pill and marketers remember what they have always known: that marketing is more than a function, it’s a calling, and we are the connection that our organisation needs to target the consumer.’
Ways to navigate the Matrix
Intercept the interference
Businesses are made up of a variety of people working towards a common goal, independently and with their own specialised roles and functions. Marketers’ objectives are to tell the brand truth, engage emotions and, inevitably, assist the business to achieve its strategic objectives. To achieve this, they need to emphasise the clear articulation of the brand strategy.
‘This is what intercepting the interference is about. Most of the time, we like to tell the creative story, but forget to tell the brand strategy. By focusing more on the brand strategy, we are able to link how the creative output will enable the organisation to achieve its commercial objectives. Once we can articulate these ideas to our consumers and internal stakeholders, we can show them how our creativity is an enabler to them achieving their objective.’
1. Know the requirements of your internal audience.
2. Speak their language.
3. Demonstrate how your campaign enables their objectives.
Assemble your ambassadors
We need to put as much emphasis on our internal marketing activities as we do to our external campaigns. Research has proven that 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know, whereas only 32% of people trust ads. 50% of buying decisions are influenced by word of mouth. Now imagine the power when you galvanise your staff and make them brand advocates. Motsepe cited an example of NASA. When the organisation was working on sending the first man to the moon, if you asked any NASA employees at that time what it is they did at the organisation, they all said one thing: that their job was to put a man on the moon. ‘Imagine having that kind of belief system in the work that we do as marketers. You cannot buy that kind of advocacy, and we need to harvest it.’
Empiricism beats emotion
Marketing is an emotional subject, but it is still a business function. Marketers tend to rely too much on their gut instinct instead of focusing on the data, which they need to embrace. As Sydney Mbhele, Chief Executive Brand: Sanlam, said, data can be used to formulate an opinion and make sure that your non-marketing executive actually understands what you are doing. ‘That will enable us to move away from seeing internal stakeholders as people who are stopping us from achieving what we want to do, and seeing them as enablers for us to achieve what we actually need to do.’ He referenced the Nedbank Money Secrets campaign, which fostered a sense of trust between business and marketing within Nedbank.
Know more to be more
It is widely believed that the best marketers are those with a FMCG background. This is because they are part of the entire value chain. They work with people in product development and R&D, manufacturing and they are part of the demand creation team, including sales and distribution. This exposure and knowledge gives them enough credibility for FMCG companies to proudly say they are marketing-led.
‘If marketers take it upon themselves to develop an intimate understanding of the business operations of their respective organisations, they will build the necessary trust and credibility with their internal stakeholders. But more importantly, they will be able to brief and engage with their agency partners far better, enabling them to create breakthrough work,’ concluded Motsepe.