Understanding our capabilities, resources and relationships as marketeers has never been more important. Danny Hill, Regional Managing Partner for Greater China and South East Asia at The Observatory International, explains.
Our news feeds and inboxes are becoming increasingly full of articles, research and commentary on what marketeers should do, how they should react and what they should prioritise in the wake of the pandemic. Marketeers will potentially face the challenge of their careers in sifting through the shifting signals and behaviors of consumers to position and steer their brand. As we prepare, predict and brace ourselves for whatever the “new normal” brings us, it’s an opportunity to reflect on whether we have the right capabilities, resources and relationships in place to be the fit and healthy marketeers for the future.
Putting the pandemic aside, being a marketeer in today’s world should be more rewarding, more exciting and more empowering than ever before. With the advancement in marketing technology, a more connected and easier to reach customer and increased analytics to prove ROI. It’s no wonder that recent research from McKinsey shows that 83% of global CEO’s look to marketing to be a major driver for most or all of a company’s growth agenda. (McKinsey 2020). On the face of it, marketeers should be the rock stars of the organization.
The reality is however very different, and for good reason. More does not mean better. In fact, the practical reality is that many marketeers feel overwhelmed, unorganized and under pressure. As Larry Light stated in a recent article for Forbes:
“Media channels, apps, devices and other ways in which to reach customers are multiplying exponentially. Instead of integrated marketing these developments resulted in disintegration. The fragmentation of marketing channels forces the CMO to be a ringleader at a multi-ring circus of multi-media messages and media.”
This is the time to focus on the “HOW” rather than the “WHAT” and understand whether we as marketeers need to adjust, transform and optimise our toolkits for the future. Here is a short guide on what to focus on:
Do I and my team have the right capabilities as modern marketeers?
It’s important for marketeers to continually improve and learn new skillsets to match the modern marketing landscape. Whilst we can rely on agencies and consultants to focus on deep specialisms, marketeers need to get the right training and develop the skillsets to be more confident, motivated and collaborative.
Enhancing Existing Skillsets
Undertaking a critical audit of your marketing department’s current skillsets and capabilities may seem intrusive, but taken in the right context and conducted in the right way then it will quickly gauge how far you and your team have to travel in a number of areas:
- Strategic Thinking: HOW are we adapting and refining our strategy on a frequent basis to deliver brand growth?
- Creativity: HOW are we delivering the very best creative regularly, with an effective content plan and an agency team that are firing on all cylinders?
- Activation Orientated: Are we nimble in HOW we get things to market, and do we maximise the right channels at the right time? Do we have the right information to make these decisions?
- Results-focused: Are we sophisticated enough to triangulate different data points from various parties to determine an ROI and to learn more about our customers (and rejectors) than we did before?
Developing New Skillsets
There is a wealth of online materials and courses available to enhance knowledge and learn new skills. Much of which would not necessarily be available in the standard corporate training program. Setting a new skillsets plan and undertaking online courses will enhance your knowledge and confidence. Learning new techniques, theories and technologies will add dimensions to your thinking and enhance your critical reasoning when dealing with specialists in the future.
Do I have the right resources and am I making the most of them?
During more stable times marketing departments can fail to evolve in line with their requirements, with red tape and a lack of confidence being two main reasons to shelve organisational change. Its only right and expected that marketing teams should evolve and rewire more quickly than ever before to align with the changing landscape. The current pandemic may have jumpstarted that requirement to shift resource and bolster projects that have been simmering in the background as nice “to dos”. It’s likely that organisations that are more agile with their resource are more prepared to take advantage of the “new normal” and seismic shifts in consumer behavior.
Even in more stable times, objectives change and as a result the scope of work can change. Maximising your agency resource relies on you having a watertight scope of work and a strong process and methodology in updating it and communicating it with your agency partner. Failure to have this process in place is likely to cause dissatisfaction and confusion with you and with the agency, when actually both parties want to maximise resources as much as possible.
Gartner research states that 80% of marketeers will reduce their spend in marketing technology and as a result reduce their efforts to personalize the customer journey. Why? Mainly due to cost, data issues and IT barriers. The marketing technology landscape is huge, baffling and daunting and it’s highly likely that you are not taking full advantage of the technology that you have invested in. Maximising this resource is key, and setting up a cross-party team that includes your relevant agency partners, IT team and technology suppliers is a must to evaluate whether you are getting the most out of your tech, or whether it is time to pull the plug and rationalise.
Am I maximising my relationships with my internal and external teams?
To maximise relationships internally both within your own team and with other functions requires much more than just a collaborative and open mindset from marketing leaders. Investing in relationships across diverse departments is vital to develop truly collaborative solutions and help them to understand what the role of marketing is for them. Communicating should be a forte of any marketing leader and it’s important to reflect on how you communicate and invest your time with your colleagues, acting as a unifying force and a slayer of office politics can really be the only way to go. The time that is put in to develop these relationships, these approaches and these connections will pay dividends when collaborating across the organisation.
A recent WFA study conducted in association with the Observatory International shows that many clients are dissatisfied with how their agencies react to briefs and their ability to keep up with advancements in marketing innovation. On the flip side, agencies continue to bemoan the lack of quality briefing from clients. These tensions and stresses in the relationship are likely to be exacerbated as objectives, scope and resource change.
Both parties require the investment made into the relationship to work more effectively than ever before. Undertaking a review of the ways of working and identifying pain points in the relationship will be an effective start in getting the relationship back on track.
Evaluating our performance and recognising shortfalls in our capabilities, our ability to manage resources and our relationships is not an easy undertaking. However, understanding HOW we go about our business rather than WHAT and HOW MUCH we do will be far more valuable in the long run. Taking a rigorous health check will identify those critical gaps that we need to act on to make us fit and healthy marketeers for the future, something that will become only more important as we emerge from a post pandemic world.