These Surprising Insights on Audience, Teamwork, and Innovation Can Transform Marketing Teams

During last week’s Brand Innovators Entertainment Marketing Summit at NBC Universal, I sat down with Jessica Turner, vice president of brand and marketing at Warner Bros., to chat about her experience in entertainment marketing. She had a lot to teach the crowd (and me) about best practices in the field. As we spoke though, I realized how surprising her insights can be on the surface. Yet, they have the power to transform marketing teams across industries. These are a few of my favorite take-homes from our time together:

Jessica Turner and Scott Harkey at NBC Universal

Audience-First (With a Caveat)
The topic of audience-first has been done to death, but this common rally cry comes with a caveat. Good marketers know to create the products and content that their consumers demand, but it’s important to not get swept up with fads that come and go. Otherwise, marketers are at the whim of every changing preference and style. Jessica noted that when her audience asks for something, her team doesn’t immediately go out and provide it. Instead, they dig deep to find out what intimate need isn’t being fulfilled. Is it connection? Story? Community? Discovering the root of audience preferences can help build a long-term strategy that embraces change while not chasing every flash in the pan.

Bring the Team Along for the Ride
Entertainment marketing means Jessica and her team work in tandem with other mega-corporations every day. While Warner Bros. is often in charge of driving new initiatives, the collaboration required across organizations is important for generating results and presenting cohesive branding and messaging. Situations like this can tempt marketing pros to lead with power and control, but that simply isn’t an option when everyone in the room is an industry powerhouse. Jessica noted that her team “starts from a place of understanding… The role is one not of authority, but of influence.” Whether you’re working with major brands or local personalities, this one bears remembering. The best leaders bring the team along for the ride. They don’t demand or bully their colleagues and subordinates into action; they inspire and create together.

Budget for Innovation
Planning for innovation might sound strange, but this is one of Jessica’s favorite tricks. She allots 70% of her budget for bread and butter tactics, those things that her team knows work well. Twenty percent of her budget is reserved for trying something for the first time (measured against KPIs) that her team has seen work well at other organizations. Finally, 10% of her budget goes toward wild ideas and pushing boundaries, no accountability required. Budgeting 10% for the never-been-done isn’t so much about the money as it is the philosophy. This principle creates an environment where employees are encouraged to take creative risks. It’s a great way to empower a team to challenge norms and experiment, which is how some of the best marketing is done.

For Entertainment Marketing and Beyond
While entertainment marketing has its unique challenges and expectations, thinking deeper than audience-first, improving collaboration, and fostering a culture of innovation can improve performance across disciplines. I’m happy to recognize that our teams at OH Partners take advantage of these practices in their work, but Jessica’s insights help demystify why these tips work so well for marketers, no matter what the industry.

About the Author: Scott Harkey is co-founder and managing partner of OH Partners, one of the nation’s
fastest-growing independent advertising agencies. The agency is turning heads of brands and holding companies alike with its passionate, agile work, focused strategy, innovative analytics and an unmatched company culture made up of collaborators and creative thinkers.

Scott’s genuine passion to grow and elevate OH Partners and the industry is reflected in his forward-thinking work and successful leadership. His experience in media, analytics, and traditional and digital marketing help him spearhead integration initiatives for international brands across a variety of verticals including CPG, luxury hospitality, gaming, entertainment and technology. Scott’s velocity, passion and problem-solving have positioned him as an indispensable partner while delivering profitable business outcomes.

Scott’s understanding of CMO, brand, and marketing trends is rooted in his enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the industry. He is at the forefront of the advertising industry as a member of the 4A’s Business Council and speaking nationally for ANA, Media Post, Media Life Magazine, Digital Marketer and others. Scott’s work has landed him on the Arizona Republic’s ’35 under 35 Entrepreneurs’ and the Phoenix Business Journal’s ’40 under 40′ lists. He was also named the Ad Person of the Year by the American Advertising Federation of Phoenix in 2018.

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