2016 will be a year when marketers will turn their analytical abilities inward to optimize the way they think and work. After years of being overwhelmed by new tools and technologies, we’ve come to a crossroads, and it’s time to consider a new way of thinking about how marketing operates.
Here’s four resolutions marketers should consider to achieve their 2016 goals.
- Marry your technology innovation and marketing strategies.
Many companies and brands develop an overall technology innovation roadmap, and then pass it along to marketing, expecting marketers to merely promote it. This is an outdated model that leads to missed opportunities.
Excellent marketers will apply creatively rich thinking to business problems and enhance their organization’s technology strategy so that the edges between technology and marketing become blurred.
For instance, product innovations, or new technologies, will be more powerful if delivered through a superior user experience that reflects customer insights. Website architecture and functionality must be revised to fully support a new revenue opportunity, and these must be optimized for mobile. Customer advocates should be identified and activated to enthusiastically share new advances. When all of this is in place, traditional marketing may appear to have a small role to play. That’s because marketing has expanded to perform a highly influential role in how innovations are shaped, how they are brought to market and how customers will experience them. This is a new role, and it’s vital that marketers be at the center of this shift.
Resolution: Put technology innovators and marketers at the table together. Find strategists that embrace an open co-creation model that produces ideas that span mediums and channels. Expect a comprehensive technology strategy that includes detail on how marketing will support, promote and leverage every dollar being spent on tech innovation.
- Take your customer focus to the next level.
The customer-obsessed marketing approach has been a priority for marketers for several years, but most companies still don’t integrate their marketing across the entire customer life cycle. And they fail to match their customer segments with investments that align spend with potential ROI. This is where the gold is hidden. The payoff will extend the length of your customer relationships.
Resolution: Examine and refine your customer journey maps. Chances are, they’ve changed since the last time you charted them. Spend the time required to add detail to your maps for multiple buyer types and identify the micro touch points that present low-cost opportunities for customer influence and intimacy. Next, create a comprehensive playbook that aligns around your key customer types and guides the various players in your organization through the delivery of strategic creative platforms to consistently convey the value of your brand across your customer life cycles.
- Create a single source of truth for your marketing performance.
Managing multiple execution specialists is costing many companies more than they imagine. While they believe they are creating efficiencies by subdividing their marketing efforts and budget, fragmentation results in the loss of an objective means to evaluate the performance of the tactics (SEO, paid search, social media, lead generation, traditional media, etc.) against each other.
As each execution specialist reports their own results, it’s impossible to connect the dots across channels because the reports lack commonality. And frequently, execution specialists are more invested in defending their budgets than in optimizing yours. Thus, a marketer’s ability to allocate spend where it’s likely to perform best is thwarted. It becomes difficult to identify the waste in bad investments, duplicated efforts, and lack of efficiencies when there’s incongruent reporting across specialists.
Resolution: Consolidate your marketing structure so that there is a single source of truth for results and strategic rigor. Pare down the number of resources you must manage (department heads or agencies) so that you have more accountability and more time to focus on the big picture.
- Improve your ability to deal with complexity.
Marketing has become so complex that many CMOs are overwhelmed, although they may only admit that in private. They are unsure that they have checked off all the boxes. They worry that they have not addressed all aspects of their marketing sufficiently, or taken advantage of every new tool and technology. How are marketers to stay abreast of all the changes in our field while also doing their jobs? How can marketers possibly assess the multitude of new tools and services, and determine how much, if at all, to invest in new ones?
The ideal marketing organization is similar to that of a wheel, with multiple disciplines, like spokes, reporting to the CMO in the center. Over the past few years, we’ve added more “spokes” to the wheel, (with new channels and technologies), yet the same leadership structure is still expected to manage this intersection of increased complexity. In many cases, this just isn’t feasible. The CMO’s office needs increased support to continue to function as the hub of all this new activity.
Resolution: Create space for partnership at the highest level. CMOs need an experienced trusted team, partnership or forum to collaboratively bring together a fully integrated marketing strategy. With a 360 degree perspective on marketing technology, customer experience, data, analytics, brand and creativity trends, the CMO is much better equipped to shape the company’s marketing strategy. And once that strategy is nailed, it’s a lot easier to implement.