John Wiltshire wants the industry to get serious about results in 2022

The president and CEO of the Canadian Marketing Association is the first participant in our annual Wish List.

The Industry Wish List is back. MiC is looking at the issues and trends of 2021, asking industry insiders what challenges lie ahead and how brands, media companies and agencies are adjusting.

From the ongoing struggles of the pandemic to efforts to adapt to a privacy-first and soon-to-be cookie-less world, marketers are dealing with a lot. John Wiltshire, president and CEO of the Canadian Marketing Association, has been focused on the CMA’s mission to embolden Canadian marketers to make a big impact on business.

Wiltshire caught up with MiC following a cross-sector panel examining trends, solutions and challenges associated with measurement and campaign effectiveness, and spoke about the importance of agility and innovation as we head into 2022.

This interview has been condensed for clarity and length.

What was the biggest priority for the CMA and its members in 2021?

It’s our job to make marketing bold and to be bold ourselves. Everything we try to do lines up to give confidence and boldness to marketers to make a difference in the organizations they work in.

One of the things that we worked on, and have a strong voice on is the privacy legislation Bill C-11 and still coming early in the new year. And making sure that we do what we can to get that legislation – with a few changes – passed.

The other area we’ve really been focusing on is diversity, equity and inclusion. And making the Canadian marketing community a diverse and powerful community requires us to understand the issues and what they are, and then to start influencing the path forward in all areas from entry-level right up to senior management. It’s making sure that best practices are being followed in those areas to the betterment of society and the community, and to the betterment of the individuals involved.

What do you think are the biggest trends that marketers will experience in the upcoming year and beyond? 

I don’t think it’s a trend, but I do believe that there’s a real huge focus on reaching consumers where they’re at. And where they’re at during COVID is at home. It’s not surprising when we do research on the topic that things like email marketing, direct marketing are on the rise. And any form of digital marketing and social marketing has continued to be very important at reaching people at home. I think that there’s obviously the cookie-less world that we all have to navigate, and that’s going to be putting some pressure on marketers to not only work in a different way but to use different tools. And there will likely be a bit of a renaissance in some of the more traditional ways of marketing, but it’s a little too soon to tell.

During the panel on measurement, there was a lot of discussion on the importance of embracing first-party data. How are CMA members handling the shift away from relying on third-party data?

Different marketing tactics may no longer make sense in a world where you can no longer rely on third-party data. The whole topic of measurement is quite interesting and I think that, as we move forward, there’s a desire for some degree of consistency and process with regard to measurements, so you know which tactics work, and what the marketing message or what the media message should be.

There’s nothing better than when people think strategically about this. I think there’s going to be a lot more work on this and a lot more people really having to think through their strategy for what they’re measuring – what their KPIs are, what are they measuring for and how are they going to measure it. And to actually make sure they are measuring for insights as well, because marketing is an imperfect science, and experimentation is one of the most important ways of getting things right at the end of the day.

We’re going to be encouraged as a profession to make a better case for engagement as a key measurement, and there’s a lot of work underway on that. The more we can say that marketing has an impact on profitability and brand value – then it’s more likely that companies will allocate additional funding for marketing and advertising, because they’ll know that there’s a bigger return on their investment.

If the media industry could make one collective resolution for 2022, what would you want it to be?

It would be to get serious about making an impact on business results. If the business world perceives the marketing profession as being a huge part of the success of their enterprise, that’s going to be great for the marketing profession.

Canada has a great professional marketing community and it’s a really great test market for the world to use. We’re a service economy and we’re got all the different components of what it takes to really do a good job in marketing. I think by getting serious about the business impact, it will make us a very attractive test market for other companies around the world. It will attract all the smartest minds to come into marketing careers.