THE MANTRA FOR DRIVING CHANGE IN MARKETING & ADVERTISING – A BLUEPRINT FOR TRANSFORMATION

By The Malketeer

In the rapidly-evolving global business landscape , the mere mention of change often triggers trepidation. The discomfort associated with stepping into the unknown, abandoning the tried and true, and venturing into uncharted territory is a formidable challenge. However, as the saying goes, change is the only constant, and in the dynamic realm of marketing and advertising, the cost of clinging to the familiar might just be irrelevance.

Embracing the Uncomfortable

Change, by nature, is disruptive. It means abandoning the comfort of established routines and embracing the uncertainty of the new. In acknowledging that change is no walk in the park, marketing and advertising professionals can begin the journey towards transformation with honesty. While change may suck, the alternative – irrelevance – is far worse. The discomfort of change is a small price to pay for staying ahead in an industry that thrives on innovation.

Recognising the Human Element

Despite the digital revolution, people remain analog. The decisions we make are often driven by emotions and perceptions rather than sheer rationality. Successfully driving change in marketing and advertising requires a profound understanding of human needs and concerns. It’s not just about technological upgrades; it’s about aligning with the human psyche, recognising the emotional stakes involved in departing from the familiar.

Aligning Incentives for Change

In the world of marketing and advertising, behaviour is often incentivised. To catalyse change, the first port of call is reevaluating these incentives. As Stephen Levy, the author of Freakonomics, aptly puts it, understanding someone’s behaviour starts with understanding their incentives. Change becomes a reality when it aligns with economic and career sensibilities.

Mitigating the Fear Factor

Fear and change often go hand-in-hand. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown – these are the stumbling blocks that can impede progress. Cultivating a culture that sees failure not as a setback but as a steppingstone to success is crucial. Silicon Valley’s acceptance of failure stands in stark contrast to cultures that stigmatise it. Creating an environment where fear is reduced allows innovation to flourish.

Respecting and Navigating Company Culture

Every marketing and advertising firm has its unique culture. Some are robust, fostering success, while others may unwittingly become obstacles to change. Altering or challenging a company’s culture requires the precision of a surgeon. Recognising the importance of each cultural facet is vital. Change agents must tread carefully, understanding the role culture plays in both success and potential pitfalls.

Effective Communication

Direct confrontation may not be the most effective strategy. Communication must be gradual, avoiding personal attacks and melodrama. Let the facts speak for themselves; allow reality to sink in without plunging into chaos. Go about telling the truth. Delivering truth too directly will only overwhelm the recipient. Instead, it’s best to get at the truth in a sort of roundabout way, telling it gently or bit by bit, so as not to shock people .

Backing Arguments with Data

As marketing and advertising professionals prepare their organisations for change, they must arm themselves with data, facts, and compelling examples. Legacy metrics of success should be scrutinised, and a compelling case for change presented. Illustrating how new approaches can unlock value in the digital era is crucial for garnering support from key decision-makers.

Role of Inspirational Leadership

Numbers, incentives, and reduced fear pave the way for change, but at a certain point, a leap of faith is necessary. This is where inspirational leadership comes into play. In the marketing and advertising industry, where creativity and innovation reign supreme, leaders must inspire teams to embrace the unknown. It’s not about wielding power points but about embodying a vision that resonates with the collective goals of the organisation.

The journey of transformation in marketing and advertising is multifaceted. It requires a delicate balance of acknowledging the discomfort of change, understanding the intricacies of human behaviour, realigning incentives, mitigating fear, respecting company culture, communicating effectively, supporting arguments with data, and, above all, providing inspirational leadership.

As the industry hurtles toward an increasingly digital future, those who master the art of navigating change will not just survive but thrive in the fast-evolving landscape of marketing and advertising.


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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

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APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
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