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HBAs learn how to navigate the new marketing landscape

  • Communications
  • |
  • Apr 4, 2022
HBAs learn how to navigate the new marketing landscape

Tim Welsh

Creativity is always going to set you apart.
– Tim Welsh, Vice President and Managing Director, FCB Canada

As new technology and changing consumer behaviour transform the advertising landscape, it’s more important than ever to tap into the customer’s journey, says award-winning marketer Tim Welsh.

Speaking to HBA students in the 4431 Ad & Promo course taught by Marketing Lecturer Colin McDougall, MBA ’06, Welsh gave advice for building a career in advertising and insights on how the marketing agency industry is evolving. Welsh is Vice President and Managing Director of FCB Canada, an award-winning marketing and communications agency, and has also previously worked with BBDO Canada and PepsiCo.

With customers being faced with endless content, he shared four ways to create memorable campaigns.

Focus on the customer journey

Whether purchasing a big-ticket item, such as a vehicle, or just a bag of potato chips, customers take various steps before choosing a particular product. First, there’s a need, then they consider what product might fulfill that need, and then they go out to buy it.

Welsh told the students marketers need to adapt their messaging for each step of the customer’s journey to keep the brand they’re promoting top of mind. For instance, a television beer commercial won’t have as strong a call to action as that on a transit shelter billboard because people are less likely to spring into action while at home compared to when near the store.

“You have to figure out what people are doing – when, where, how, and why,” he said. “Then you can create a continuous loop of engagement across the journey.”

Leverage data

Data is fundamental to understanding the customer journey and delivering a personalized experience. Welsh said marketers use data for insights on people’s interests, lifestyle, and what formats appeal to them so they can both target their spending on the right platforms and create better one-on-one communications. Data can also help you to assess the performance of your marketing tactics, strategies, and campaigns.

“If nothing is measured then nothing is gained,” he said. “It’s great to put a campaign out there, but if you don’t track how it’s working, how will you build on a success or correct when a campaign doesn’t go right?”

Find new ways of working  

Television and print advertising were once the mainstay of media marketing. And while they’re still an important part of the marketing mix, Welsh said new platforms, such as TikTok and Snapchat, can’t be ignored. These new formats demand what Welsh called “quick and efficient content,” not the big campaigns of traditional media.

“As a result of these new formats, we need to change the way we work … Our ideas are in all new places and in different forms,” he said. “If we’re not playing in the spaces where people are at, they’re going to pass us by.”

Unleash creativity

Having insights on customers helps you to crystallize ideas so your marketing strategy will inspire, engage, or tap into their emotions and your brand won’t be forgotten. Calling creativity an “economic multiplier,” Welsh said you can’t always be doing the same thing. Embrace new technology, challenge formats and conventions, and try new ways of producing engaging content.

“You need to be offering a good quality product or service, one that is worth the customers’ money, but lots of companies already have that. If you have a good quality brand, the only tool in your toolbox is creativity. That’s what will separate you and help build your brand,” he said.

Welsh said there is also increased demand for brands that value corporate social responsibility (CSR) so you need to tell the story of how they’re bettering the world. He shared examples of how FCB communicated BMO for Women Initiatives, that help address gender bias in the financial industry, and the Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s partnership with Google to launch a new Android app that aims to help the 78 million people around the world with speech impairments.

“A lot of people are demanding that brands stand up and make the world a better place, not just be making money,” he said.

Tips for breaking into advertising 

Noting that advertising is a highly competitive field, Welsh also gave advice for increasing your chances of making it your career:

  • Have a business mindset – You need to be creative to enter advertising, but also have business expertise. Welsh said the best creative people are the ones that care about the sales they create and delivering an action for a client;
  • Pay attention to advertising that’s out there so you can speak to it during a job interview;
  • Create a good cover letter that’s tailored to the agency you’re applying to;
  • Network – Meet as many people in the industry as you can; and,
  • Persevere and follow up – Welsh said he landed his first job by following up on an application. It just so happened someone had quit and he was hired on with the company.