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Future of Caribbean marketing is integrated

Published: 
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Consumers today are more connected and empowered than they’ve ever been, and it means that even here in the Caribbean, businesses must radically evolve the way that they engage, sell and market to their customers.

The Telecommunications Authority of T&T’s (TATT) Annual Market report 2016, showed that mobile penetration across our population of 1.3 million stood at 160 per cent, with over 700,000 mobile internet subscriptions.

Sales and marketing against this backdrop is tough, mainly because marketers must engage connected consumers who have access to more information than ever, making them both empowered, and overloaded. In addition to customers engaging businesses far later in the purchase decision journey, research shows that consumers overwhelmingly trust their peers and online reviews more than advertising.

In my over ten years as part of a digital agency, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the approaches to marketing taken by local businesses. Sales and marketing leaders have become more and more adept at utilising digital in their marketing and engagement of customers, but we’re now at a turning point. The next wave of marketing that will have impact in the Caribbean is the imperative to seamlessly integrate marketing.

That assessment has led me in my own agency to transform from being focused on helping marketers harness digital to reach, engage and sell to customers, to a broader focus on integrated marketing. With web, mobile and Internet technology here to stay, consumers move easily between the online and offline worlds and except brands to do the same.

That core insight has led me as an agency owner to also seek to evolve from a digital-only focus to a more expansive integrated marketing focus at the newly branded Caribbean Ideas, Synapse, because regional leaders need more and more help adapting to this change in customer behaviour.

Caribbean sales and marketing leaders are working to engage a variety of consumers through the entire consumer product lifecycle, and increasingly struggle with the mix of content creation, storytelling and cross-channel marketing that is most effective.

Many feel forced to compromise, choosing between agency partners that may be good at digital or traditional marketing but not both. Some hire separate agencies for the subject-matter expertise, but because of a lack of experience in managing multiple partners, they struggle to get truly integrated results. Others take a different path, choosing the simplicity of working with one partner, but accepting that they are losing out on expertise in one area or another, leading to a different disconnect.

The reality is that true marketing success is impossible to achieve without consistent, connected experiences that consumers can see, feel and engage with across multiple platforms and channels. Creating the type of powerful campaign that achieves this requires significant skill at both left-brain marketing that relies heavily on strategy and data, and right-brain marketing that is personified by brilliant creative design.

For us at Synapse, marketing is about integration and storytelling in service of key business goals. Our focus is on helping modern marketers who need to tell compelling, connected stories to today’s consumer wherever they consume media, and wherever they are in the buying cycle.

Our philosophy, is that the future of Caribbean marketing is about putting together left brain and right brain marketing, combining analytics and data with creativity and storytelling to achieve success and show ROI. Our belief in this future led us to evolve from our pure play digital history to the integrated marketing agency that is now Synapse, where helping marketers excel at delivering storytelling, messages and experiences cross-channel is our focus.

These approaches can be immensely powerful, as we observed in recent work with Republic Bank. As collaborative partners, we were both inspired to change the conversation on and offline in T&T from many negative things—crime, unemployment and corruption—to one that reminds all of us that there are pockets of positivity around us. As a financial institution, attempting a campaign that was more focused on storytelling than disruption advertising was a departure, particularly in the typically busy Christmas period where product marketing is usually top focus.

The resulting #BetheOne campaign focused on promoting the things we can all do to make life better for ourselves and others, showcasing foundations, people and scenarios where good was being done in the market. With a heavy focus on storytelling in digital and other channels, this campaign has already crossed the 1 million video views mark and counting.

It has also gone on to win two Silver Addy’s for Social Media Campaign and Social Media Single Execution at the Caribbean Addy awards, a prestigious award that recognises excellence in advertising and creative industry standards.

The campaign and resulting win reinforced that great content and storytelling are essential parts of modern marketing, but they are also just one component. Mastery of integrated marketing will challenge Caribbean marketers to excel in the ways that they communicate, track and measure success and tailor marketing efforts to the media consumption habits of different consumers.

We believe that while it’s never been harder to be a sales and marketing leader, there’s also more opportunity than ever before to develop deep, long-term customer relationships and brand advocates.

The future of marketing is integrated.

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