Five Items Every Marketer Should Have on the Agenda

Take These Steps to Elevate More Brands

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Great marketing isn't great unless it is validated by terrific business results.

At the recent Masters of Marketing, we saw evidence of what it takes to produce tangible growth. Marc Pritchard from P&G, Lisa Cochrane from Allstate, Alfredo Gangotena from MasterCard and others demonstrated how brand creativity and innovation, combined with evolving media strategies, can invigorate consumer relationships. That secret sauce is just the right ingredient to propel brand performance to grand heights.

As an industry, we need to find ways to elevate more brands to find such success. To do so requires the industry to break down barriers -- barriers that often restrain brands from achieving their full potential. We must act as agents of change to move the industry forward. As such, our industry needs to improve the way we do business -- and, in particular, the business of marketing.

For 2013, I see an industry agenda of five core areas in which I will push for accelerated change:

Accountability and Measurement
The imprecision of our industry and our tolerance to accept imprecision is one of the great frustrations of our time.

To look at the realm of technology and the embrace of big data leaves me wondering why we can't move more aggressively to substantially grow measurement capability. I recently said that 2013 must be "the year of accountability" and I am determined more than ever to make it so. Imprecision costs marketers millions of dollars. Fortunately, initiatives such as 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense) and the ascension of the Media Ratings Council as the centralized standard-setting measurement body lifts our hopes that we will crack the code for this legacy industry issue.

Consumer concerns are real. Public-policy groups raise legitimate issues. Legislators issue calls to action.

But does our industry know that we are already doing something about this?

The Digital Advertising Alliance, in concert with the Advertising Self-Regulation Council, has created an end-to-end system that addresses most, if not all concerns for "ads that track consumers." Starting with an FTC-endorsed set of principles, the DAA/ASRC system tracks marketers' behavior through the use of the "power-forward icon." This permits monitoring, reporting and enforcement against those not aligned with these principles. The groups are expanding their coverage into the mobile arena.

What the industry lacks are vibrant education programs to spread the word and alleviate this concern. These concerns have manifested themselves with poor solutions such as do-not-track mechanisms -- which do nothing but eliminate consumer choice and threaten our industry.

Building the Agency of the Future
What should an agency do for marketers? As its most basic objective, agencies should help marketers navigate the rapidly changing landscape and create new marketing and media strategies to achieve success. They need to be the creative engines that lubricate the brand and move it aggressively forward. Does your agency do that? Is it structured to accomplish that goal?

Too often, the system gets in the way. Sometimes having too many agency specialists gunks up "brand machinery." Other times we focus so much on process elements such as agency-search practices, procurement and agency compensation that we take our eye off of building our brands.

So what does the agency of the future look like? We owe it to ourselves to find out in 2013.

Solve Mobile
Mobile is an extraordinarily exciting opportunity for marketers. But we're still not sure what to do with it. Leveraging apps, integrating screens, enacting search and more are part of the arsenal that marketers are anxiously looking at as the next generation of business-building opportunities. Guaranteed, it will be solved. Let's do it in 2013.

Organizing Marketing for Growth
Marketers need to think of themselves, first and foremost, as growth champions. Many don't.

To do so requires marketers to rethink how they do business -- in how they are structured, in the skills they acquire and in how their business should be conducted with agencies, publishers, researchers and consultants.

Marketers need to unleash themselves.

They need to get out of their own way and overcome barriers that are restraining their growth potential.

Bob Liodice is president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.
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