Traditionally, marketers seek to be better at marketing. The desire for high brand awareness, improvements in acquisition and retention, better segmentation and greater personalization should all naturally lead to increased demand and higher conversions. In turn this should, ideally, lead to more customers and revenue.
But with today’s changing digital and decentralized workplace and with remote work on the rise, marketers must focus on the how. Otherwise, it’s like trying to manufacture the best performing candy apple red sports car with no regard for the factory, labor, robotics, systems, processes, technology or safety. You could tinker enough to build a car in your garage but could never scale production at a mass quantity or to meet best practices and exacting, replicable standards.
Yet we hear from marketers regularly – even at large, corporate and global enterprises – who have focused on getting better at marketing but not on how to build a better marketing foundation. They do not have the infrastructure to enable sophisticated marketing operations and to scale marketing for today’s fast-changing consumer and business world.
The challenges marketers now face can be cumbersome.
You’d be surprised at the number of large brands who are still trying to manage marketing with outdated and disparate systems. Worse yet, many are still managing marketing strategy and execution using email and spreadsheets.
This type of marketing organization is handcuffed when markets are in flux. Unexpected and unplanned crises such as the recent pandemic and economic downturn cause brands to scrutinize every campaign and initiative.
They have no good way to scale effectively in drastically evolving environment. They struggle to handle the basics let alone position themselves and their company to be out in front of the market and lead through the crisis in flexible, adaptive and innovative ways.
What marketers have proven again and again is that work can be done with virtual team collaboration from across the globe. When given the constraints of remote work and stay-at-home orders, marketers work from home with kids in tow. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s doable.
Brands have had to cut advertising and media budgets, and transform in-person events for virtual environments. Many marketing organizations are now working with fewer people and may have fewer resources (such as agencies). This results in staff reductions at agencies, as agencies are forced to shrink from reduced client demand (see Adweek’s regularly updated list of how agencies are responding to the coronavirus).
The challenges people face are real. It’s a different world in which our clients and their customers – the people marketers serve – now live.
Brands that have fared better than most throughout these recent challenges are those that have created strong digital commerce channels (see Optimizing Digital Marketing Channels for Consumer Goods During COVID-19 and A CMO Action Guide – How Leading Brands Outperform in Uncertain Times). They have a solid martech stack with integrated operational tech that includes work management, content marketing, and digital asset management platforms.
Marketers are using automation and AI in their workflow processes and simplified operations to work in increasingly agile ways. They are evaluating costs and optimizing talent, processes, technology and partners (see 7 Questions to Optimize Marketing Operations Costs).
All in all, they are hyper-focused on the customer and they don’t struggle with proving the value of marketing to the business (see How to Prove the Value of Marketing to the Enterprise).
More than ever before, it is imperative to listen to the customer and be able to respond quickly to their need – making daily or even hourly adjustments.
Long gone are the days in which marketers execute from a strategic marketing plan signed off on when annual budgets are allocated. Marketers must build a foundation that will enable continuous and flexible marketing strategies. As well as changes in messaging, channels, campaigns and events.
Adaptive, flexible marketing budgets and planning are essential (see Build Stronger Marketing Plans in Uncertain Times With Adaptive Strategic Planning). Successful marketers review their martech stack quarterly, monthly and even daily to ensure there is a solid martech strategy, tight integrations, optimized workflows and system upgrades (see Build an Adaptable Marketing Technology Roadmap).
Marketers must work differently if for no other reason than to adapt to our drastically-changed reality in which we all now live.
It is impossible for marketers in June to “do marketing” like we did in January.
Note: Gartner for Marketers Practice (GML) seat required for access to full research notes.