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Is Marketing Consultancy Dead?

By Piyush Gupta, President, Kestone Integrated Marketing Services

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Piyush Gupta, President, Kestone Integrated Marketing Services

Marketing Consulting is a fancy terminology for a lot of marketers as well as for aspirant marketers. While for a student pursuing MBA in the marketing stream, the most aspiring dream is to become a marketing guru. For him, the world of marketing consultancy is beautiful. Such aspiring marketing professionals dream of being in the place of renowned marketing experts like Kotler, the American marketing author and consultant.

But soon comes the time, when the real world welcomes them. Especially in India, when the marketing students are brought to reality, they are shocked to face it. As soon as they wear a marketing professional’s hat, the first and the most important expectation is, how many leads will they get. ROI has unfortunately become the key mantra everywhere. Now because of the focus shifting from brand to ROI, everyone is in the execution mode. No one is willing to slow down and think of creating a brand. The life cycle of a product has also become too short and hence the concept of building a brand has also moved to the last priority for any marketing manager. With this kind of mindset of marketing managers, the marketing consulting has also become execution driven. The entire concept of understanding the consumer, doing the desired research, testing the products and other associated tasks hardly exists these days. Even the launch of any product is also dependent on the competing brands. In the IT and Telecom sectors, product launches have become more reactive to the competition rather than the consumer needs.

Analyzing the state of marketing consultancy

Is marketing consultancy dead? Not really. It just needs to be revamped, like “Old wine in a new bottle”. With the new era of digital marketing shaping up, marketing consulting should use it as one of the major tools.  Everyone tends to discuss about digital marketing strategy, but a very few have actually cracked it. There are so many examples where what a brand talks on a digital platform is very different from the instances when it speaks in a retail environment. And, there is no focus on overall brand. One important aspect of marketing consulting has to be the integrated approach. A marketing consultancy cannot be limited to competition analysis and product positioning but also needs to include a complete integrated go to market plan so that whenever someone comes across the brand, the communication remains the same. A lot of times we see what a brand manager talks about the brand in a closed door conference or in a press release is different from how he has been talking about it at the point of sale. This is what the marketing consulting should start focusing and revive the brands through Integration of marketing tools.

How should it ideally work?

Imagine an environment where marketing consulting team works with the brand/ marketing/ product managers to first work on the positioning of the product and then integrates all other communication aspects with the creative agency, sales team/ training partner on what is being communicated via them to the consumer, with the digital partners on what is being said on the online platforms and the execution partners to make sure the product is being communicated to the right target group.

Along with this, the marketing consulting team does a data analytics on how has the movement of brand across all platforms been, how has its acceptance been and which platform has been the most effective. With this, they help the brands to channelize the marketing dollars in a more effective way.

In the current ecosystem, the marketing managers are always short of time and this is where the Marketing Consultants need to step in and fill the gap that lies in the process of building brands. The market is huge, the opportunities are bigger and it is up to the marketers to grab them with both hands or let them go.

The other aspect of building the brand is not just the overall brand of the organization, but small programs such as individual as brands. For instance, it can be considered as making a sales incentive campaign a brand, making a simple email campaign a brand or working on making the sales executives as brands. Instead of emphasizing on only one brand, if there are thousands of smaller brands that integrate with the bigger brand, the entire organization will move faster. This will ensure motivated employees, passionate sales guys and excited customers. What would any organization expect after having achieved this?

Data Analytics, A tool for marketers

Data analytics is one of the most critical tools for a marketer, but is ignored by most of them. Marketing is incomplete without data analytics, but data analytics is generally used for sales. The reason for this is not the unavailability of data. Data remains available to most of the marketers, but a very few know how to use it to their advantage.  

Every marketer will have the data on how many people were touched in the entire year through direct marketing but rarely will there be any data on which campaign was most effective in terms of influencing the target group and taking them to the next level. How many times do we track the journey of a customer from the first campaign onwards and whether the customer is actually moving to the next level from understanding the brand or not? Owing to the execution mode that most of us are into, all the important data of marketing is being overlooked. Numerous data analytics tools are available, which the marketers can also get customized as per their needs. But, the first step is to change the ROI focused mindsets to the ones that are brand focused. If a brand does well, ROI will follow.

So the recipe for a successful marketing consultant is to have an overall integrated approach to the marketing challenge, add the flavor of branding to it and make it spicy with data analytics.

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