Year-end pundit du jour: RMB’s Karen Best

In 2009 we'll all be working harder, listening harder and doing our part to inspire change, says Best.

Today, as part of MiC‘s Look Back/Look Ahead series, Karen Best, VP business development for the Radio Marketing Bureau, shares some thought-provoking views.

MiC: What are you spying on the horizon in ’09?

At the Radio Marketing Bureau we see accelerated integration on every level within the media and marketing communities. The economic crisis has taken away any possible luxury of time to innovate – to create the unique brand and customer experiences that will stand out and generate solid return. Competitive edge will be increasingly dependent on the integration of assets and bench strength within and across companies. With little time and fewer resources to build best-in-class solutions from scratch, marketers and content providers will be shopping for others’ creations to integrate into their product offering.

We’ve seen a robust emergence of ad networks, integration sales teams, marketing partnerships, technology partnerships, consolidations and inventive cross-platform marketing solutions, but we may have just seen the tip of the iceberg. Alliances, acquisitions and partnerships will continue to be forged for long-term growth, but in 2009 the lens will become focused on solutions that can be implemented quickly and generate short-term return.

To take the marketing dollar further, integration between the various media assets used within a marketing strategy will become more important than ever. Creative teams will be working harder to ensure that there is a cohesive experience with the brand through all channels. This may necessitate reaching out to creative specialists in media like radio, where leveraging the power of sound to maximum advantage often demands a unique skill honed over many years.

MiC: What worried you the most during the past year?

Sound has not been seized as a branding asset to nearly the extent that it could be. To quote a Fast Company article by Karen Post a while back, ‘Sounds take you places. They motivate, stimulate and seduce even the most reluctant. The right mix of sound, music and strategic noise is a vital part of the branding game.’ The majority of marketers’ time still centres on building brands through images and messaging. The power of music and sound to connect and create lasting impressions is still widely overlooked as one of the most persuasive and influential instruments in the marketing toolbox.

MiC: What ’08 happening did you particularly applaud?

The transition many marketers have made to media strategies that effectively integrate social media with online and traditional media. We especially applaud those who have achieved this while re-inventing their approach to traditional media, thereby elevating their overall brand presence and relevance to consumers. It wasn’t a matter of adding social media to the mix, but rethinking the holistic approach to market. The Super Crazy Alive Campaign from Coke-Minute Maid, engineered by Leo Burnett and Cossette Media, is an excellent example.

MiC: What’s the next big looming threat?

Resiliency, flexibility and drive have always been key attributes for managing change and thriving despite adversity. In recessionary times, the requirements for these attributes become magnified, and can threaten organizations caught in same-old, same-old paradigms. In 2009 we’ll all be working harder, listening harder and doing our part to inspire change.