Tim is a multi-disciplined marketing executive with a proven record over 15 years of optimizing strategic efforts to expand the influence of leading organizations, such as the Canadian Marketing Association, Cineplex Entertainment, Lavalife.com, IMI International and North star Research Partners. In September 2017, Tim earned his Chartered Marketer designation. The Marketing & Experience Team is dedicated to optimizing CMA’s strategic brand efforts, technology platforms and live events – including Canada’s #1 Marketing Awards – to create memorable experiences at all touch points in the member journey to drive deeper engagement.
The 2018 Canadian Digital Market was recently released. Were you surprised by the results?
I was surprised by the way results in one respect, which is really around the notion that for all the talk that is going on out in the marketing profession right now, about how agencies and client relationships are changing, and the results show that we’re actually still pretty stable in terms of the changes that are going on in the marketplace. That certainly surprised me because again, there’s a lot of chatter, but the research shows that the agency relationship with clients will continue to evolve, but it’s not a matter of having changed exponentially in the last few years. So that was great to see.
What aspect didn’t surprise you?
Again, I was not surprised to see that agencies continue to add excellent value for their client relationships, and we know that that ecosystem between agencies and clients and media buyers, for instance, Agencies are really important one for the Canadian economy and for the Canadian marketing profession. So, as a result, We need to make sure that we’re able to provide value for each of those areas. Again, We see from the results from the Canadian digital pulse study, that agencies are adding an essential part of the mix to make sure that clients are intercepting consumers in the right way.
Many entrepreneurs take marketing activities in-house, where it is cost, do you believe that their business can suffer by not having experts to take over the marketing aspect?
There is a risk. So, agencies again, are an essential part of the marketing ecosystem. When clients are planning campaigns and branding initiatives to go out and talk with consumers, agencies can offer much value, and so it’s important to remember that sort of value, and part of it is that there’s an investment involved with it.
Like with anything, you get what you pay for. So, there is a cost saving component to having things brought in-house that previously may have been executed by an agency. If we take a look at that, what we see from the research getting from the digital pulse marketing study, we see that the types of things that are being executed by agencies increasingly are the cutting edge side of the business. So, we’ve got some examples such as augmented reality, programmatic marketing, and wearable tech, some of the search and online media and some of the out of home components.
As a result, agencies have a role to play, a significant role to play, to help clients meet their objectives. So, the cost is one factor, but it’s not the only one. You need to make sure that you’re the best output, in order to, again, have great relationships with consumers and grow those.
However, most of the companies Tim, they see marketing as an expense where it is not an expense, it’s an investment in business development.
Very much so. I couldn’t agree more. The notion that marketing is an expense is wildly outdated. I agree that marketing is an investment to build your business, to create demand, to create new markets, to create new consumers for your products. There’s also on the other side, a way to learn from consumers to find out what they’re looking for, so that can build new line extensions and new growth for your business. So, if you don’t invest in marketing, you’re not going to be able to understand your consumers, and you’re not going to be able to service them properly. That’s going to cost you economically and in many different areas.
In your expert opinion, what marketing areas do you believe that business owner should do in house and which should be outsourced to experts?
So again, there’s an important role to play for both sides, and there’s going to be different for every organization. So, when clients or marketers side are looking for what they should keep in house and what they might want to consider outsourcing, and you don’t need to outsource anything, or you can outsource everything, there’s a strong mix.
Again, it will depend on the business life stage and cycle, how well the business is doing, what sort of expertise is needed. If we look at the results from the digital pulse study, we see that again more cutting edge initiatives such as augmented reality, programmatic, some of the wearable tech, video syndication, programmatic, these sorts of things, many organizations don’t have that expertise in house. So, it’s essential that if those elements of marketing are necessary for their business, that they’re getting the very best expertise.
If you don’t have that expertise, you’re probably going to be spending more time and more money trying to develop that yourself. So, that’s where we see from this research, many client-side marketers are saying, “Yes, I want to go to the experts, I’m going to leverage their insights, and then what we do see over time is that as those cutting edge initiatives, email marketing, for instance, think about 10, 15 years ago when email marketing was still not in its prime like it is now, we see that many clients have brought email marketing in house, because they’re comfortable with it, it’s established, there’s a great pool of talent to be able to service, that type of marketing, and so you can do it often faster and cheaper with your resources.
So, that’s a certainly a significant benefit to doing it, but again, if you don’t know about augmented reality and that’s important for your business, I would strongly encourage you to take a look at some great agencies to cause there are lots of them out there.
Aside from saving money, another main reason why business owners tend to opt for in house when it comes to marketing is because they get a better turn-around time. Do you believe that this is an issue that can be easily addressed?
Well, again, if we look at the research, there are pros and cons to outsourcing some of your work. One of the advantages is that you’re able to access that expertise as I’ve been saying. One of the cons is that, they’re not in house and so, therefore, they may, the agency may not fully understand all the complications and permutations and different niche realities of what’s going on in your business, and so, there is an investment that’s required in time and possibly some money in order to ensure that your agency is fully briefed, they really understand your business and they are able to drive value for you.
So, it really is a mix where you want to find that right balance between, okay it might be more cost effective to keep it in house, but if I have to spend more time in order to train up my staff and maybe they won’t get to that level of expertise that an agency already has, that would be something to take a look at because there’s probably some additional value that you could capture there by working with great agencies.
What are some of the initiatives you’re hoping to put in place following these results?
Well, at the Canadian Marketing Association, we’re always interested in supporting both agencies and clients. We represent over 400 corporate marketers and agencies across the country, and including the top clients and the top agencies, and it’s worth noting that about two-thirds of our members are SMEs.
So, we’re not just the Canadian Marketing Association, is not just that the players, all of you represent all of them too, and we really have the biggest tent, the broadest representation of the marketing profession in Canada, and so, we’re always conscious of what’s changing and what needs are out there, and thus, we’re continually reformulating our products and services to make sure that with agencies and clients are getting what they need from us.
How would you say these results have affected the Canadian Marketing Association?
These results from the digital pulse study, which I should note is in partnership with IPSOS Canada, who did all the research for us, both on the marketer, client agency and consumer side. These results have given us additional granularity to plan our business, and we are focused on doing four things in the marketplace. We’re helping marketers and agencies to promote their content and thought-leadership that helps them to grow their business.
We are always looking to ensure that they are getting the very latest learning and development opportunities, including our chartered marketer designation. We’re also looking to advocate and represent the profession and help guide policy to find the right balance between consumers and even businesses so that both can succeed and be respected.
Finally, it’s about networking and bringing the profession together. So, we do that through events and different social initiatives with our online member directory. So, what this has shown is that we’re doing a lot of the right things in order to make sure that we’re offering the latest and most excellent services that agencies and clients need today.
If we compare 2018 as its previous years, there will be any degrees when it comes to organizations depending on agencies for their marketing needs, other than saving money and better turnaround times, what do you believe that is?
So it’s clear there are some changes going on in the marketplace, and there are shifts, and again, if we look at the research from the digital pulse study, we see that it’s like the rising and falling tide, and there are slow evolution that seems to wax and wane like the moon, and as a result, we see that the profession continues to evolve and we should expect that to continue.
The reality is, is that over time there is not a significant change in terms of the amount of work that is being leveraged with agency partners and versus what’s being brought in house. What we are seeing is the composition of the type of work that is being done by agencies is changing, and so again, there’s more cutting edge initiatives, augmented reality and programmatic and SEM and SEO wearable’s, virtual reality. These are the elements that again, clients don’t really have a strong understanding for a strong capability, and perhaps maybe not even strong pool of talent to be able to tap and hire to bring in house.
So that’s why they’re going to these agency partners, because that expertise is readily available there, and so as a result, it’s constantly in flux. So, I think we should expect to see that continued evolution to happen, and I believe that there’s still a strong place for both agencies and clients to work together in Canada.
In your expert opinion, after reviewing these results, do you believe that marketing agencies are in danger of going out of business?
The short answer is no. Marketing agencies aren’t going anywhere, and I mean that in a very positive way. They’re an essential part of the Canadian marketing ecosystem to make sure that clients again are getting what they need in order to speak with consumers in a respectful, positive and engaging way. Especially now, you’ve got to get consumers excited about your product, and there’s a number of ways that agencies can help.
One, understand those customer needs. Two, package different initiatives and campaigns in order to make sure that those clients are getting what they need in terms of being able to speak and listen to consumers, and it’s about planning and optimizing those initiatives. So, agencies are a crucial part of the marketing ecosystem in Canada.
What is the best advice that you can give to a marketing agency so that they can have more plans following these results?
I think the best advice I would give to agencies right now is to keep providing excellent value, and they’re doing this already, which is great to see. The opportunity for them I think in the future is to remain on the cutting edge of what’s going on. So, it continues to develop the core elements and core marketing, great strategy, great insights, excellent research and great planning in order to make sure that the clients can win consumers.
The opportunity for agencies on top of that, a great foundation that they already offer is really to ensure that they are able to remain cutting edge and understanding some of the new things that are going on, whether it’s AR, VR, wearable’s, programmatic, new tech. These are areas where they can help and service gap that some clients might have.
What inspired you to work with this line of business? Like what marketing–Some think you were passionate about and wanted to go into?
I got into marketing because I’m a politics fan. I love politics, and I always was watching what was going on. So, I went to school for that at Queen’s University. That’s why I studied political studies. As a result, politics is very similar to marketing in the sense that politics is selling an engagement to immediate constituents, and it’s selling the ideas and positions for a party or for a direction for a country to proceed in, and so marketing is very similar to that.
Marketing is the positioning and engagement with consumers to make sure that product and services are matching their needs. I find a great fit there, between politics and marketing, because it’s about understanding your constituents and stakeholders. It’s about putting a plan in place in order to make sure that they’re aware of your positions and opportunities, and it’s about making sure they remain engaged and excited about being a part of your ecosystem.
So, from that respect, I think that marketing is a great fit. Specifically to my more recent five years now at the Canadian Marketing Association, not for profit marketing is an important part of the marketing ecosystem as well, and so, note for proper leaders and trade organizations such as ourselves, have an important role to play in order to make sure that businesses can grow and consumers are respected, and that’s ultimately what the Canadian Marketing Association is focused on.
What are some of the programs that the Canadian Marketing Association provides to SME owners that can be of benefit for them?
There are lots of services and again, about two-thirds of our members, so hundreds of our members, corporate members across the country are SME’s. So, we offer services, and we’re very focused on making sure that we provide competitive and progressive and advanced programming. Thus, a few of those options are learning opportunities. So, if SME’s are looking to increase their capabilities in terms of marketing knowledge and skills and skill sets, we offer many online marketing courses that are available, and you can do them 24/7 anywhere you are with an Internet connection. So we offer those three times a year in different semesters.
We offer in-person seminars, and we’re able to bring communities together. There’s a content marketing seminar going on as we speak right now when it’s talking about how do you plan for great content, and that program was oversold, and we had to add more capacity. So, there’s a need for further education and professional development in that area.
Another thing is on our networking and our connection services. So, for SME’s who perhaps may not have substantial marketing dollars, we offer a very cost effective networking events where businesses can interact and meet with each other, and we also have our member directory where we’ve got thousands of marketing contacts from right across the country, both clients and agency side, SME, all the way up to huge enterprises, and so, we’re able to offer that as a complimentary service as part of our membership as well. So between education, and events, and networking, it’s a big part of it.
Last but not least, I would say there are a lot of compliance guides and resources that are available to our members exclusively, and so whether that’s on castle or GDPR, or cybersecurity, or privacy and data protection, new cannabis regulations that are coming in, and have occurred in the past few months, trademark changes in terms of what elements of a brand can be protected, these are all very active files for us. So, all of these resources are available for SME’s at a much-reduced investment versus if they were to go to a lawyer for instance and approach them to receive the same sort of knowledge. So, it can be very cost effective to be a member of the Canadian Marketing Association.
So, all of these resources are limited members or non-members also can register and attend these events?
It’s a mix, and so there are resources that are locked down and available only for members, and our advocacy, and public affairs regulatory topics, those are exclusive to our members. For instance, with our castle guide, it’s been downloaded thousands of times over the last few years because castle affects all of us, and so we need to make sure that we’re emailing in a respectful and compliant manner, including opt-ins and, and these sorts of things. Some of our events are open, and some of them are our members only. So there is a discount and availability for our members to save money there.
Same thing with our learning and professional development initiatives. There are incentives and discounts in order for our members to have more value and access to exclusive services. The same thing goes with our chartered marketer program. Some savings come from being a member of the CMA.
That’s good to hear. What are some of the top marketing trends that you’re seeing in the business industry at the moment?
I would say the top trends that are going on in the marketplace right now or are really about change. Consumers are changing, technology is changing, demographics are changing, expectations are changing, and so, everyone’s trying to figure out what’s next. Our advice to these business leaders, whether they be SME’s or any other part of the Canadian marketing ecosystem, is to get engaged and understand what’s going on. We would argue that the best way to do that is to get involved with your community.
That’s what CMA offers, it’s a community of marketers where we have thought leadership, sharing sessions where you have networking opportunities, we have professional development, we have our chartered marketer designation, and we have the resources from our advocacy team and public affairs team in order to make sure that you’re able to stay ahead. So, it’s about, in a world of flux, lean in and better understand what’s going on so that you can take advantage of changes and get ahead of them.
What is the most common mistake that business owners make when it comes to promoting their brand?
The most common mistake that businesses make when they’re promoting their brand, does not understand their consumers enough or the potential prospect consumers. If you go without a strategy, and we see this, especially in SME’s where again, dollars are tight, and we understand that. We’re a not for profit too as a CMA. So, making the investments to better understand what’s going on with your consumers, what they’re thinking about, how they want to be connected with, how they want to interact with you and what sort of products and services they need is crucial.
Many organizations get tempted to take the shortcut and go straight to a campaign because they’ve got a great idea. The challenge with that is, that it’s risky, and so you might go out and deploy all of these marketing resources, build up this campaign, but if the core insight was never really understood, never really captured, it was never placed into the brief, well, I would argue that you need to know before you go. So, making that insight based investment is critical.
Awesome. If you could give a piece of advice to SME’s who are just starting their business, what would it be?
The most important advice I would give to an SME who’s starting up right now is to get engaged in their community, and indeed the opportunity there is to get connected, is the most cost-effective thing you can do, because people like working with people they know, and so, if you are part of an association or part of a community such as the CMA, it will allow you to get much further ahead, you’ll be able to tap into available resources on a very cost-effective basis.
You’d be able to get the latest professional development that you need. You’ll be able to tap into a lot of the training and guidance, and round compliance matters, which are critically important, especially in this evolving technology and compliance space. I would say don’t try to do it alone, get involved. There are a lot of great resources that are available to help, and a lot of great people who want to help you, and so don’t feel like you need to figure all this out on your own. There are many people in many organizations such as the CMA who are willing to help and want to help. That’s why we’re here.
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