By Dorothy Thompson.
Have you noticed; every time you pick up the trade press there is another Charted Accountancy firm who is dipping their ore into the murky waters of the dark craft of Ad Land. Years ago it would have been as likely and popular as a Voodoo “Houngan” (Priest) been welcomed at the Vatican by his Holiness.
There was in the 80’s a brief dabbling into consultancy attempts, when some of the firms establishing hotel development and marketing divisions, where they looked at doing feasibility studies as to wether resort and hotel projects were viable. However their modelling was questionable, and most ended in costing them (the accountants) a fortune in settlements, to avoid very public litigation and damaging publicity. They were soon closed and they retreated back to their green pens and pocket protectors, believing that the two industries (consultancy and accountancy) where culturally incompatible.
But the world has changed, and here they are again now dabbling into the dark arts. Why?
With the market changing, two simple, but definitive things have come into play, they are procurement and content.
What is Marketing Procurement?
The definition of marketing procurement is the act of endeavouring to obtaining or buying goods and services at the most competitive costs. They seek to minimise risk and maximise value, which can be illustrated with these seven core benefits:
- Security of supply
- Obtain lower costs
- Reduced risk
- Improved quality in outputs
- Drive for greater added value,
- Increased efficiencency
- Encourage innovation
Who runs procurement? Well accounts do. The greatest challenge for them is the huge difference between buying a marketing / advertising campaign and purchasing 100,000 tons of flour or copper sulphate. This is where Marketing and Procurement clash most. However “he who has the gold makes the rules”, and Procurement runs the treasuries.
It is little wonder with kindred sprits (procurement) on the inside of the fort (of the marketing companies) that this is why the big firms (accountants) are dipping into the marketing mix for the additional streams of revenue that they have never before had access to.
What is Content?
You’ve heard people speak of “content marketing” and you get the idea you should already know what it is, but you’re too embarrassed to ask anyone. Fear not neither do most of the people that espouse it.
The Content marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all things content marketing related matters, defines content marketing as:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”.
The key word here is “valuable.” It’s what is supposed to be the difference between it and the traditional form of marketing. However its flaw is that this definition from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing is almost identical. You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it. Surly a dubious handle to rely upon.
But why have the Bean Counters seen a fresh opportunity now?
The trusted relationship between Clients and their Agencies has changed dramatically over the past 10-15 years. Where an Agency CEO would meet with a Major Client CEO once a week to just chat about the market, opportunities, staff and agency performances, this has in the main has now disappeared. Why? Well frankly they are both to blame. The Agencies, because of their flawed and doubtful methods of charging fees for their services, and Clients, because of the relentless pressure to drive costs down with little or no consideration for the end creative outcome or quality.
There is a substantial miss trust that now developed between the two once close allies. It is not surprising. One always finds it difficult to trust those who they believed have betrayed or are cheating them.
But the need for council and advice (for marketers) still exists. So marketers have turned to their most trusted advisers, those who know where all the bodies are buried, the keepers of their secrets, their Accounts.
Picture this; a major client comes into to see their accountant and during the course of a regular meeting they ask, “what do you know about this content business thing”? Not to miss a beat the accountant’s reply, “well we have a specialist team that does exactly this”. To put this in process, the accountants go scurrying about retaining every big name so called expert in the content field they can find, and instantly, they are experts and are now part of the online digital community. Be it correct or not, the concept is gaining traction.
The other, in this new digital data driven world, the need, or apparent need for countless graphs, books of data explaining and justifying supposedly all things. It would appear it has now become more important then the activity itself. It was in years gone by the purview of the research providers, but now the content and digital community are awash with it.
Fortunately the blow torch has been put on the reliability of much it (digital content marketing) by many of the largest FMCG corporations, with the consequence of them reducing their digital spend significantly until they see reform. Who better to refine a mathematical dilemma then your trusted Been Counter. That is of course, if they are not up to their armpits in the whole bloody mess themselves.