If you’ve only just discovered this series, you’ve got a little catching up to do. If you made, it all the way through the week – this is the grand finale!
This week I’ve been unpacking Trevor Hardy’s five trends shaping the future of marketing and communications, and applying them in a B2B context. On Monday we tackled ‘radical transparency’, on Tuesday we turned our attention to ‘embracing uncertainty’, Wednesday was all about ‘the emotional economy’ and yesterday we looked at ‘brands as educators’. Today, we unpick Trevor’s fifth and final trend: ‘thinking long and slow’.
The business world is facing a crisis of anxiety, driven by the ‘quarter-to-quarter’ existence of most organisations. Short termism has become a damaging obsession, which causes us to miss, or ignore, or simply panic about longer term challengers.
It’s really hard to overcome short-term bias in business, which is why some things just don’t get the attention that they need and deserve. But Trevor contends that the age of the MVP (minimum viable product) is under attack and is being increasingly rejected. It’s time that business gets with the programme.
Trevor reminded me of a phrase I’ve heard a few times: ‘cathedral challenges’. Long term, critical challenges that take years and even decades to address. The challenge for B2B marketers and communications professionals is to strike the balance between planning for the long term, while acting in the short term. This is all too familiar for me.
I’ve spent nearly nine years as the CEO of CCgroup. For the first five, I was very short termist. I didn’t think I was – I had my five year strategic plan and we were progressing against it (most of the time). But we weren’t tackling many of the things that we felt may impact our business in the longer term.
The trick was to figure out how to maintain focus on the short-term needs of the business and our clients, while addressing longer-term challenges. The move that has really accelerated our ability to do this was adopting a balanced scorecard approach. Now we’re wrestling with two main cathedral challenges.
Aperture – an attempt to make disruptive audience and market insights available to B2B firms (and thus improve the briefs agencies receive from clients) – got off the ground last March, but has been four years in the making, and it’ll be several more years before it can be considered a true success. But that’s OK – because we have time.
Next up, we’re working on the automation of PR. This is another four or five-year journey that’s going to require significant investment. However, the long-standing issues it will empower us (and the PR industry as a whole) to address – wastage on admin, the lack of time for training, the difficulty in hiring quality talent in a growing market - are enormous.