As the leading marketing management consultants in APAC, it is natural that a lot of marketers and advertisers discuss the issues that keep them up at night with us, from digital integration and transformation to maximising media transparency and value to getting more effectiveness and efficiency from their ever growing roster of agencies and suppliers.
It is therefore always interesting to get an independent perspective on the industry and the challenges and issues such as this Korn Ferry Institute, Marketing Pulse Survey from December last year.
According to the report, when it comes to their primary marketing objectives, the ones keeping CMOs awake at night include:
- Creating sustainable and engaging customer relationships and improving the customer experience
- Ability to demonstrate marketing’s ROI
- Staying ahead and taking advantage of digital technology to create meaningful business insights
- Aligning marketing with the overall business strategy
Interestingly the latest Senior Marketers Monitor from the Australian Marketing Institute and Colmar Brunton highlighted that the top 5 priorities of Australian marketers were very similar:
Senior Australian Marketer Marketing priorities
- Focus on development of customer and market insights
- Focus on measures to increase sales
- Focus on maximising efficiency of marketing expenditure
- Focus on customer acquisition
- Focus on demonstrating ROI
AMI / Colman Brunton 2016 Australian Senior Marketer Monitor
But what is underpinning this common focus for Global and Local marketers? Through our work we are doing with a wide range of marketers from local to regional and global companies we have identified industry trends and observed patterns of behaviour that provide insights into these concerns and priorities.
But firstly, indulge me in changing the order of what keeps CMOs and Marketing Leaders up at night to provide some context and order to the issues identified.
1. Why digital technology keeps CMOs awake at night
Is it any wonder this made the list? The real surprise is that it is not top of their concerns considering the amount of content in the market talking about digital disruption and digital transformation.
The technology vendors are spending a fortune in creating demand for the latest technology toys to sell and the media is all too ready to write about the latest innovation as lazy journalism designed to feed the content hungry internet.
The fact is that the technology alone is no panacea to solving the issues marketers are facing. Cynically some marketers believe that these challenges have been caused by technology and blame social media and the Internet for making marketing so much more complex. But technology is an enabler it is not the solution.
As any marketer who has invested heavily in technology will tell you, in many ways the easiest part is to make the decision, the hard part is the implementation and the user training to get any value out of that technology investment. Any technology decision should be framed by the strategic requirements of the business and the brand and with a view on the return on the investment.
2. Aligning marketing with business strategy
For something so logical, it is surprising that many marketing teams find this a challenge. Often it is because marketing is positioned as a service supplier within the organisation, reduced to taking requests from the business to produce promotional materials and sales support.
Or it could be that marketing is not talking the same language as the rest of the business and discussing long-term brand value and brand health is failing to engage the management team.
Whatever the cause, it is essential for marketing to not just align to the business strategy but to contribute to the business strategy. The best and broadest definition of marketing I have heard is that “marketing is the face of the organisation to the market”.
This is where business strategy and objectives are crystallised and fulfilled through a strategy to take the business offering to market and realise the value inherent in the business. But increasingly there is also the opportunity for marketing to bring market insights back into the business and inform the business strategy. In organisations where marketing is simply a service provider, these insights are often overlooked.
3. Customer relationships and customer experience
Smart marketers have identified this trend that is moving marketing and its influence from brand through communications and advertising to brand through customer experience and relationships.
This has been enabled by technology to allow marketers to take a more holistic view of the customer and to plan and influence the customer experience across the various touch-points within the organisation.
This has been seen in the C-Suite with the rise of the Chief Customer Officer in a number of organisations including Virgin Australia and AMP.
This evolution acknowledges that brands and brand value is created not just through communications, but is more powerfully influenced through the experiences people have with the brand, either directly or indirectly.
It is this evolution that is requiring marketers to embrace collaboration as an operating principle within their organisations. Marketing is increasingly playing an influencer role to ensure the brand is reflected in the customer experience, as the customer experience is delivered by the organisation as a whole.
4. Demonstrate marketing’s return on investment (ROI)
Marketing ROI is often talked about, but since the Financial Crisis eight years ago, the imperative to demonstrate the ROI of the marketing spend has increased significantly. The CFO and the procurement team have driven the constant downward pressure on marketing costs.
But as the saying goes, you cannot cut your way to growth, the CFO is looking to their marketing counterpart to prove the return and convert the spend into an investment.
The issue for the CMO is that marketing, unlike sales, is a medium to longer-term investment, in a financial system that takes a quarterly or annual view of customer value. In discussing life-time customer value with a CFO, he jokingly said that from an accounting perspective all the company customers effectively die on the last day of the financial year only to be resurrected the next.
But the pressure is also building on marketers to provide ROI due to the increased data available through the application of technology and the ability to track and measure customer behaviour, especially on-line.
Ultimately the value of marketing is in the ability to contribute to the delivery of the business objectives, both in short-term revenue generation and in creating longer-term sustainable value.
The challenges for CMO and Marketing Leaders
The Korn Ferry Institute findings all point to what we already know. The market is changing and these changes are driven by technology and innovation. But technology alone will not provide the solution.
While the market may be more challenging and more dynamic than before, it is increasingly important for marketing to align with the business strategy to build value through the management and co-ordination of the customer experience and relationships.
Technology solutions are the enabler to achieve this, but their choice and application must be framed in their ability to deliver the return on the marketing investment.
This post first appeared on Simple.
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