Can marketing make a difference in the world? (It has to)

Sledge's MD, Sarah Yeats, looks to Gen Z, and argues that harnessing our expertise and nurturing talent is the only way to collectively make a difference

We know that marketing and marketers have the ability to influence peoples’ decisions, opinions and daily lives. While this might mean we haven’t always had the best reputation, now more than ever, it’s important we use our expertise for the greater good, and encourage our clients and people to do the same.

Protecting our planet has never been more pertinent, especially when the likes of the UN have revealed that, if our global population continues to grow as its current rate, and we continue to live our lives as we currently do — then by 2050 we’ll need the natural resources of nearly three planets to sustain our existence.

The same goes from a talent and brand perception perspective. Branding and social impact consultancy BBMG, for example, has found that 47% of Gen Zs expect brands to speak out because they believe it’s the right thing to do.

So what can we do to be better?

Act as the strategic consultants our clients need

While our clients might have internal CSR teams and policies in place, communicating those policies via their marketing campaigns might not always be a priority. Alternatively, these organisations might look to their agencies to develop campaigns that speak to these policies, yet agencies aren’t sure where to start because they themselves haven’t made it a priority.

By developing our own frameworks and including these in proposals as standard, and adding value by curating tailored solutions (whether a client asks for them or not) can help us bring important issues to the forefront. Being primarily in the business of experiential marketing and content production, we aim to collaborate with clients to develop long-term CSR and sustainability plans which encompass their entire portfolio. That way, rather than treating these matters tick box exercises, they’re woven throughout every marketing activity as standard.

Place employee wellbeing at the forefront

The pandemic has changed the world of work, forever. Employees want better work-life balance, and yet marketing can be a high pressure industry. Leaders need to have strategies in place to ensure their people don’t burn out — and develop flat management structures, so employees aren’t afraid to speak up if they’re not feeling their best.

It also comes down to planning: ensure there’s more than one point of contact for a client, and assigning clear roles is key to ensuring a project isn’t impacted when a team member takes time off — something that’s especially vital for small to mid-sized agencies.

Attract and retain talent who want to do good

I’ve experienced firsthand how impactful project work can inspire employees at all levels, myself included. It gives us a revived spirit and drives us to want to do better. Prioritising this type of work attracts talent with similar interests, but it’s also leaders’ responsibility to educate all employees about the value of doing work that makes a difference.

Providing teams with the opportunity to develop and lead CSR-related initiatives is essential for employee retention, especially when it comes to millennials and Gen Z. We’ve found young people don’t want to simply do the jobs that no-one else wants to do. They are keen to get stuck in, add value to projects, and ultimately have a voice.

They’re digital natives, are more aware of the world around them than the previous generations were, and have valuable insight to bring to the table.

We need to consider how we create environments where they can thrive. It’s up to all of us, on both a micro and macro level, across industries, organisations and countries to make a difference.

As marketers, we have the ability to educate consumers for the better, so lets harness our expertise and nurture talent; so that we can collectively make a real difference.

Featured image: Mike Von / Unsplash

Sarah Yeats

Throughout her 17+ year career Sarah has worked with leading brands across the automotive, financial, telecommunications and technology sectors to deliver industry-leading events in various corners of the globe. These include exclusive VIP dinners through to large, high profile conferences for thousands of attendees. At Sledge Sarah is responsible for developing key accounts and providing strategic and creative planning on client projects, and has successfully both led and grown the agency throughout the pandemic. Passionate about nurturing the next generation, she works closely with her team, encouraging them to develop their individual talent, think outside the box, and champion innovation and creativity on every project. A firm believer in a collaborative approach, outside of her work managing Sledge Sarah champions the event industry and connects with event professionals to share ideas and creative practice whenever possible. She regularly speaks at and attends industry events, engages in awards judging, and shares her best practice advice with the media and in podcasts.

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