Marketing in B.C. – what's hot and what's not?

I've recently been involved in some unique research that explored the state of marketing in B.C. The joint BCAIM Ipsos Reid initiative looked at marketing opportunities and challenges as defined by marketers in B.C.

I've recently been involved in some unique research that explored the state of marketing in B.C. The joint BCAIM Ipsos Reid initiative looked at marketing opportunities and challenges as defined by marketers in B.C.

As part of this, I examined the state of marketing in Canada and other parts of the world to see if we are really all that different in B.C.

I then hosted a panel discussion at a recent BCAIM luncheon with a few senior B.C. marketers. I wanted to share the key findings, the discussion and provided some commentary from this work.

Digital media including social and mobile is red hot

Like marketers the world over, we in B.C. are enthralled with digital media (including social media and mobile) and the possibilities digital can bring. Upping their digital game is a key mandate for most organizations and, as a result, marketing departments are adding digital talent and new skills to their ranks. Despite marketers' frustrations in measuring the impact and ROI of social media, they are not shying away from it.

Social media and mobile marketing are the hot focus areas for marketers in the coming year, with company budgets for such initiatives being carved out from more traditional media.

We also found social media was extremely influential within the industry itself. The top source for marketing information, news and trends was Linkedin.

Areas of concern for marketers in B.C.

The big ones here were:

  • fragmentation of media and media channels;
  • the increased overall advertising message exposure to consumers; and
  • the decreased ability of companies to distinguish or differentiate their products or services.

To overcome these challenges, I would suggest really defining and understanding your target group and truly knowing what solution your product/service is providing. When you do this, fragmentation of media and message clutter is a blessing and an opportunity because you can focus your targeted message to your well-defined target group and your message of your differentiate product will stand out.

Homegrown brands that B.C. marketers admire

The top brands mentioned were Lululemon, Telus and Coast Capital Savings. These weren't a surprise to me as I know that Telus is held up as a textbook case study for brand consistency. And Lululemon – what's not to love? It is a local brand that has gone grass roots to global with little to no paid media (at least in Canada).

Coast Capital Savings is seen as unique, memorable and fun not only in its marketing but just as importantly, in the customer experience.

Consistency. Grass roots/community connection. Being unique – and carrying this through to customer experience. Do these well and you too will be admired by marketers and, more importantly, your customers.

Brand experience is critical

Customer experience and new products or services were the top strategy focus areas for marketers in B.C. This mirrors what I have seen in other market reports.

Marketing in more progressive organizations has influence beyond the traditional marketing department boundaries. For instance, marketing will have say in messages relating to customer care, sales, HR, NPD, pricing and more. With all the consumer insight that marketing already owns, this expanded influence makes sense. Good marketers know that marketing is not confined to the marketing department. And while marketing would love to have complete control of the brand, they don't. Often it is someone far removed from marketing who makes an impression (good or bad), which in turn is posted up by a customer on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook or Google and has the opportunity to potentially influence others.

B.C. not so hot on analytics

What stood out for me comparing the state of marketing in B.C. with elsewhere in the world was that analytics here took a back seat. With the growing digital channels, including social and mobile, fragmentation of media overall and the expanding role of marketing beyond traditional marketing responsibilities, there is more data than ever out there. This data stream needs to be understood so that it can inform and optimize marketing efforts. Elsewhere in the world, big data is seen as key. It's a huge challenge and opportunity for marketers. From the B.C. survey and what I have experienced, marketers and their organizations, both small and large, could benefit from more focus here.

Can B.C. talent overcome small budgets?

It is no secret that the budgets for marketers in B.C. are typically smaller than those enjoyed in HQ central, Toronto and the U.S., where there is greater scalability to marketing investments. That being said, as B.C. is such a desirable place to live, there is an abundance of marketing talent here. As someone once said to me, there are two types of marketing currency – ideas and money. As marketing budgets in B.C. are tight, those in this province are just going to have to draw more upon talent and ideas to connect with customers.

All in all, it's a great time to be a marketer in B.C.