5 Operational Marketing Trends for 2016

5 Operational Marketing Trends for 2016


I maintain that this is the most exciting time for marketing and communications since the emergence of television as an advertising platform in the 1950’s. Since that time marketing has been ever evolving but what’s required now is more revolution than evolution. Anyone who opposes that statement I believe is either in denial or resistant to change. Here are the 5 key pillars that I believe will see further progress in 2016:



The first place to start is structure. We live in a new world where leaders are required to be more open, more authentic and more communicative. Hierarchies are making way for open networks so what was once a highly top down bureaucracy is now moving more towards an environment which optimises our ability to better share information and communicate. This year, I expect to see more progress in this area driving inclusion and transparency within businesses and creating more of an aligned set of vision and values that everyone can buy into from top to bottom. Siloed structures lead to siloed thinking which in turn leads to duplication of ideas and cost and threatens our ability to deliver marketing strategies and campaigns that are innovative and integrated.



The buzz word in marketing, often derided and certainly over used. But that doesn’t make it any less essential to the future path of marketing. Held back by structure and by proxy budgeting, we need to see more work done on the integration of marketing services. Think about it, marketing covers a lot of things from paid media through to public relations, digital marketing, events, brand partnerships, content, influencer management and social. If large businesses are structured to have media, digital, events, promotions, creative and PR teams, and they in turn hire agency specialists in all of these areas, how does this enable us to move more towards an open network where ideas and learnings are shared and strategies cut through each department? Moreover, how do big businesses re-learn how to manage, prioritise and distribute their budget in a way that drives efficiency and effectiveness?


The Great Budget Re-distribution Debate

We all know the words, PAID, OWNED and EARNED. We understand that the budget holders are structured to have owners of each of these principles. We then in turn understand that there are agencies that represent each (for example, your media agency, your social agency and your PR agency). This means its critical for marketing heads, or the person that sits over the top of all these principles are well versed in each and able to make top down decisions that drive the best results. Once again, a dangerous structure given generalist marketing leaders are few and far between. So what happens? The ongoing power struggle between the old world run by PAID and the new world run by savvy marketers looking for budget re-apportionment and integrated thinking. This at the heart of the imminent marketing revolution challenging the very fabric and DNA of how decisions are made and by whom.


Market Consolidation

As such, I expect to see more consolidation within business generally and specifically within marketing. Perhaps not this year, but moving forward I expect to see the re-emergence of specialist agencies over generalist businesses such as media agencies. Once this happens, I expect to see those generalist businesses acquiring many of those specialist businesses so that the generalists can call themselves specialists! There are dozens of agency networks selling a vision of the integrated approach but in reality, it’s still a number of disparate agencies all operating separately under new management. The market does need to consolidate further but it also needs to know what to consolidate into and how to drive the very best in efficiency and effectiveness. One way to do this is to think more globally.


The Global Approach

Centralised strategy, local implementation. This is the way forward for global businesses and I am still surprised how many businesses operate in a decentralised or even federalised capacity allowing the kind of autonomy that leads to restricted regional output. That simply cannot exist in a digital world and the need to be more global in approach and spending will grow as does the influence of YouTube, Facebook and newer players coming into the market. Again, how will this work with regards to central vs local budgeting? How is digital managed within all of this? This all comes back to structure. The days of wayward spending are over. If economies of scale are to be fully exploited, a global structure needs to be put in place with an open network infrastructure. This will help deliver on some of the major marketing challenges emerging in the 21st century driven by a market that has become digital led. A fundamental shift in mind-set that many businesses still haven’t cracked. The world has changed. The audience has changed. So how we communicate with them needs to as well.


Written by Adam Rubins