Mellissah Smith has spent more than two decades working in and thinking about marketing, experience that has culminated in founding Marketing Eye, an agency for small and medium-sized businesses. Mellissah spoke with us about the future of marketing, and the opportunities marketing offers small businesses.
You have more than two decades of experience with marketing. How’d you get started in the industry?
My start is stereotypical of how many people started in marketing in my era, in that I was employed in the industry from the get-go. The advertising agency that I worked for was owned by an inspirational Irishman who had a list of top-tier global companies as clients. He had an impeccable attention to detail, and instilled in me that it’s not important what I like when developing a campaign, but instead who our target audience is, what they want to see, hear and feel – that counts.
Tell us a bit about Marketing Eye. What does Marketing Eye do?
Marketing Eye is a disruptive marketing agency. We go into small- to medium-sized businesses with change in mind, auditing their marketing practices and leaving no stone unturned. Our outsourced marketing team offer is a game-changer for the businesses that we work with. It gives them the freedom to do what they do best, while we focus on their target audience, how to connect with them and nurture them all the way to a sale.
It’s a combination of marketing services, media, networking and education that helps Marketing Eye forge its way into new markets.
Marketing Eye makes a point of stating they don’t outsource. What are some of the reasons you keep everything in-house?
Small businesses have a choice; they can use a freelancer, have someone with select skills in-house or use an agency that may do part of their marketing, but outsource other areas that they don’t have skills in or support, or have a Marketing Eye dedicated to achieving their marketing outcomes, with a team of people collaborating together.
When I started Marketing Eye almost 10 years ago, I had a vision to give small- to medium-sized businesses every opportunity to succeed. An entrepreneur alone can not make a company succeed – they need a team of people who drive the business. In marketing, it is no different. It’s the collective creativity, brainpower, insight and experience of a marketing team in collaboration that ensures all areas of marketing is working together, talking the same language at every touchpoint and telling their story. Unless they are “talking” to each other in every marketing discipline, it is impossible to get this 100 percent right.
What are some common mistakes you see with many businesses when it comes to marketing?
The biggest mistake that businesses face is one person trying to do it all. What happens is the person making the decisions often finds him or herself caught up in what he or she likes, rather than what is going to resonate with the client and nurture them all the way to a sale. Companies need to understand their customers better, and we are fortunate in today’s market that through sales and marketing automation technologies, our insight is far clearer than ever before.
Another big mistake companies make is also focusing on areas of marketing that they know best or have tried before, rather than having an integrated approach to marketing and adopting newer technologies that allow them to connect with customers and intuitively walk with them through the entire sales process.
What’s the value of a dedicated marketing manager for small businesses?
Having a dedicated marketing manager is about having someone with the right skills take ownership of the marketing function within a company, ensuring that it supports sales activities and underpins the overall business plan. An experienced marketing manager has the ability to take an entrepreneur’s dream and help them make it a reality through telling the story and connecting with the company’s customers on multiple levels.
Where do you see marketing heading in the next ten years?
According to Gartner Research, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human. I think that customers will predominantly make purchasing decisions without talking in the next 10 years, through intuitive technologies, using facial expressions to the point whereby a wink is a “like” and a nod is a “yes to purchase.” We are already seeing the use of in-store technologies that recognize through facial expressions and cell phones what people like and dislike, allowing intuitive merchandising to adapt according to the customers individual needs.
This will be the biggest challenge for marketers, as we are already seeing a gap in marketing skills when it comes to analyzing the data that is provided on the digital DNA of a customer, requiring marketers to utilize the services of their tech team. In 10 years, there will not be a marketing position as we see it today. The education system will need to adapt to ensure that marketers have a greater knowledge and understanding of technology, capable of analyzing data and adapting marketing campaigns accordingly.
Smaller will be better, and the use of technology in micro devices ensuring a more mobile consumer environment will be instrumental in pushing marketing campaigns to adapt to mobile, watch, clothing and facial and body recognition. There will only be one-to-one marketing or technology to consumer marketing with most purchases not requiring any human interaction.
Millennials want the ability to order what they want, when they want and wherever they want – and in 10 years time, this target audience that has grown up in a digital on-demand world, that only knows technology as a platform in which to achieve this.