According to McKinsey research, (June 2021) 78 percent of CEOs are now banking on marketing leaders to drive growth, as more and more company results suggest that those companies who continued to invest in marketing throughout the pandemic performed better than those who didn’t.
Fulfilling an ambitious growth mandate requires a marketing agenda that is far more sophisticated, predictive, and customized than ever before”McKinsey
As we went into lockdown a lot of companies responded as many respond to market downturns – they cut what they (mistakenly) perceive as discretionary spend; they cut their marketing campaigns, cut their marketing staff, replaced experienced (expensive) marketers with (cheaper) junior marketers; and now they are wondering where their growth is going to come from.
To compound the catch-up, there seems to be a shortage of qualified marketers: “Marketing job vacancies more than triple since height of pandemic”. Recruiters are reporting a trend for those “who can do everything, from strategy through to delivery” with a focus on “ready-made candidates with experience”. There’s no time for training and development, businesses need a return on their investment and fast! “We are seeing heightened demand for marketing directors as businesses continue to transform, including launching into new markets, driving growth, and pivoting around their customer propositions.” (Marketing Week Oct 2021).
Even the companies that performed well during the pandemic are losing their star performers to excessively inflated salaries, as the scramble for the best talent accelerates. Yet they not only face challenge in terms of staff shortages, rising salaries, rising campaign cost, and increased competition but from new players, new brands and new play books!
Leaders of all businesses whether large or small will be looking for less risk and greater certainties on their marketing spend and with the acceleration of e-commerce during lockdown, there’s so much data available, that today’s marketers can no longer wing it with Lord Leverhulme’s century old quote.
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.”Lord Leverhulme
I shared a boardroom for many years with a financial director whose pet phrase use to be “the only guarantee with the marketing plan is the cost”. They now embrace (digital) marketing.
Why? Because it gives them less risk and greater certainty.
With all the available data a bad month can become a better month with a little carefully directed and timely spend, when a sales director’s forecast sales shortfall can be recovered, by a marketing director’s digital spend – as the data enables them to forecast with greater accuracy than ever before, the additional sales for every marketing pound spent – the FD loves it, who wouldn’t!
As an SME you may not have a team of marketers, you may not have a transactional website, you certainly don’t have a lot of data and your marketing budget was cut. But you are no different to the 78% of CEO’s who want to drive growth and maximise the return on your investment but are you looking to marketing to drive that growth for you?
The marketing principles of the BIG companies (if not the budgets) can be applied by SMEs, if their Leaders have a mind too, and it doesn’t have to be that technical or complicated – there’s lots of (free) helpful, shared data, experience and information out in cyber-space. For example, Google Analytics 4 is making it “easier to discover actionable, privacy-safe insights from across the customer journey, that you can use to improve your marketing from acquisition to retention”. According to the new Advertising Research Community (ARC) project, “the optimum budget split for the UK as a whole is 55% offline, 45% online.”
Marketing strategy, like all other strategies does not have to be complicated just developed and deliverable!
Here’s a story I heard first-hand from the owner of a small family business who at the time had no e-commerce presence and a limited marketing budget which they regarded then as they do now, as a vital spend not a discretionary spend, but they weren’t sure how effective it was – they were having a Lord Leverhulme moment.
So, they contacted their customers with a simple 4-question survey, the fourth question was “How often do you expect to make a significant purchase (value specified) from us?” The answer to that question told them they could not turn their marketing activity on and off, and that they had to have a consistent and enticing presence in the sector. The answer to the other 3 questions told them with which channels to best engage their customers. They now have an annual A4 one sided Marketing Calendar with activity by channel, by customer segment, by spend and by expected return.
“While broad reach, powerful, resonant storytelling, and creativity remain critical, marketers now need to utilize data and analytics at scale to crack the code that enables more targeted and engaging interactions to shape consumer behavior”
Continue working on your story telling, creativity and channel content but recognise there’s an even greater expectancy on the effectiveness (ROI) your marketing activity generates – which you ignore at your own peril.