“To create a company where anyone who wanted to touch the brand could have access to it” – that was her vision. Simple, Powerful and Embracing – that had the customer at the centre of whatever she did. She knew there was a new consumer she had to woo. She knew she had to drive significant change. She knew she had to engage her customers and her employees internally. She knew her company had to communicate with a new demographic in a new language. And she knew she needed technology to help her scale, get connected and drive great experiences that went across the globe. She’s Angela Ahrendts, the CEO of Burberry and the article appeared on the June 11th issue of Fortune Magazine. Today, Burberry spends half of their media budget on digital.
So investments in digital can and will follow. But it’s not going to come in a big way if the focus is merely on running digital campaigns. Going digital and making technology decisions today is more than a line decision – it’s increasingly become a business decision. And when the business decides, that’s where the investments will come in a big way. Customers will need partners to make this real in their organizations – Partners who understand today’s trends, the changing landscape and how organizations can re-tool and re-organize for success – technology partners, marketing partners and others. And that made me wonder – whether agencies can or should play a bigger role than they do today going beyond creating digital campaigns and cool advertising?
Digital dollars are growing albeit from a smaller base. But today, in many instances it still doesn’t dominate advertising spend. And to a large extent many organizations are still trying to figure out how to embrace Digital. There’s a bigger picture at play here – it’s not about digital advertising but it’s about how we market in this digital age. And this means not just engaging my customers but also my employee base. This means letting go of control to increasing my influence. It’s about building communities, rewarding them and conversing with them. And it’s very much about how two worlds can co-exist to complement one another – the Digital and the Physical world!
Imagine if an agency could help organizations with this transformation. Not just help them do Facebook and other Digital campaigns. But help them evolve how they engage with their customers. How they stay connected with their customers. How they need to re-think organizational structures and technology platforms. How they work with the employee base to empower them and through that empowerment drive every day innovation where every single employee is an innovator; where ideas from the outside can be implemented on the inside in real time; where new experiences are delivered on demand in a meaningful way to a consumer wherever he or she may be. Where engagement goes beyond a campaign and becomes a way of life thru new and old mediums.
Companies that see the new customer embrace the new medium and make change a part of their culture are doing very well and delivering great value back to shareholders. Burberry has a relentless focus on digital innovation – not digital marketing. Coke has let go of control and have Coke fans running their Facebook page. 7 Eleven in Indonesia has re-invented itself in the local market in innovative ways where they are now the place to hang out with Social Media being a key part of their strategy to engage the fast growing middle class with a higher disposable income. In all these 3 examples, they’ve had to re-invent and change. And the impact is visible. Profits grew and in the case of Coke and Burberry, they outperformed the stock market over time. No small feat in today’s environment. There was impact but it took leadership and partnership to make it happen!
But none of this takes place with short term bets. The changes we are seeing today need organizations to make mid to longer term bets. It needs organizations to acknowledge that they operate in a new era of business with a new generation of customers who are very empowered. Success will depend not just on how fast they change today but how fast they keep changing. As a result, these organizations will need good and trusted partners to help them succeed and sustain success. And potentially, agencies of today can play a much bigger role in this digitally engaged world with the organizations of today – even more than just delivering creative digital campaigns. Just because you are here today, doesn’t mean you’ll be here tomorrow. Your dance moves today – may just not be cool tomorrow. So you genuinely need to ask yourself – do YOU really think you can dance?