If we only think about all the changes we have experienced during the last months - not just the global pandemic, but also the economic impact, human isolation, social unrest, ... and all the changes we are experiencing are coming at us, all at once. It’s scary. Adapting is hard, but even more so when we try to shift gears and continue to reach unchanged strategic goals.
Yet this also is an amazing opportunity to understand our customers better - how they are experiencing this change how they are behaving and how they will change their experience in the months to come. According to Gartner, 90% of marketing leaders agree that marketing has to become more adaptive to shifts in customer needs, to be able to meet the demand and more deliberate in modifying current capabilities in pursuit of strategic long-term objectives - recognizing customer understanding as a key driver of adaptability in delivering impact.
The question on top of our minds is how do we become more flexible, and more adaptable to the rapidly changing environment? So we stay ahead, being able to respond to short-term problems, doing the right thing at the moment, clarifying the important strategic goals, and developing to be ready for the challenges to come.
Yes, as marketers we have a challenging mandate while being at the center of the growth agenda and being faced with so many challenges at the same time. Therefore I wish to prioritize 4 critical ones that will affect our actions as leaders and actions of our teams in the months to come.
Uncertainty is the only certainty.
Agility should become the new mode of operations. Without it, we are vulnerable. The status quo is being disrupted daily. So, we need to plan differently and implement change-based planning. Being prepared means having always at least two scenarios ready, resegment customers per changes in their needs, and becoming nimble enough in marketing capabilities to effectively execute each, executing swap between the two, on the fly if need be. And think ahead about how their impact could potentially affect the business.
Customer needs are rapidly changing.
How to balance commercial demands and customer expectations? By better listening to customers and understanding of drivers for their behavioral change. Marketing leaders must use this insight to represent customer needs to the broader organization, educate other leaders on shifting customer expectations, and influence them to take action and thus double the chances to influence revenue growth.
Marketing budgets are under pressure.
Multiple conflicting forces are keeping budget pressure high. However, this pressure extends beyond cost-cutting - to optimize the performance of remaining programs and direct investments to strategic initiatives that support growth and digital transformation. Cost optimization starts with data and marketing technology. According to the CMO Council, 69% of companies are investing more in MarTech, but failure to effectively use it to collect, integrate, and analyze data indicates a disconnect between marketing efforts and spending, business needs, and priorities.
Marketing leaders’ success depends on allies and partners.
Marketing represents the voice of the customer (and prospects) and other functional leaders need that voice, to consider it in their business decisions. Making that insight available and using it to inform and influence requires marketing leaders to form an alliance and partnerships with other functional leaders.
So, becoming more adaptable is not just a smart idea, it creates positive results for our customers, our peers, and other stakeholders. The most successful marketing teams are not doing different things, they do not use revolutionary technology, they do not have disproportionally bigger budgets, and they don’t have smarter people. They do the same activities as everyone else, but the way they are doing them is much different.