When you look back at 2020 marketing predictions published prior to the pandemic, you might notice advice that ended up being pretty spot-on, a little inaccurate or maybe even more relevant than you anticipated in terms of its representation of our actual state of affairs this year.
Of course, any misrepresentation we discover now is understandably justified, but it’s interesting to look back and see where we thought we would be—as well as what, even through all the chaos, has still rung true. We revisited Forrester’s “CMO Strategy: Planning Assumptions 2020,” a research brief outlining “areas of opportunity” that were anticipated to “drive the agenda” for marketing leaders in 2020.
Corporate vision alignment
Forrester detailed the importance of aligning company strategy, marketing strategy, and marketing planning. Oftentimes, when the CMO is left with a “vague sense of how marketing is aligned to the business,” it stems from a lack of a “disciplined process” or “crystal-clear vision of marketing’s connection to company strategy,” the research explained.
“Through the development of a clear marketing strategy,” it added, “the CMO can broaden the view of the C-suite and other functions as to how marketing can help the business achieve its goals.”
Corporate goals, however, likely underwent significant, sudden changes—probably multiple times—from the beginning of March to mid-June. If you’re not up to speed on the latest company strategy, you’re not going to be able to adequately align your marketing strategy.
Instead, to get everyone rowing in the same direction, you must be in an environment to adapt to changes.
For example, when it comes to your martech stack, how much of an effort is it to make a goal or plan change, have that change properly reflected across all impacted systems, and alert any impacted parties?
Instead of entering data into multiple systems that might be out of sync, keep your martech stack integrated in the context of your marketing plan, which—importantly—is connected to organizational goals, no matter how often they’re changing.
When it comes to delivering business impact, Forrester brought up a common challenge for many marketers: having a “myopic focus on pipeline contribution.” Instead, they must remember “other areas where marketing delivers impact,” focusing on serving the right audiences—from buyers to customers to employees to third-party influencers.
“Marketing’s challenge is to identify the right audiences, articulate the value it intends to deliver to those audiences, and measure and record the value that those audiences create for the business,” the research said.
Now, considering that many of your audiences have likely changed, we suggest doing a poke test to investigate some of these potential scenarios:
» Taking into account the unfortunate reality of layoffs or company reorganization, you might be dealing with different people in different roles than you were at the beginning of the year. If, under normal circumstances, up to 30% of your contact data becomes stale in just 12 months, what does that percentage look like this year? Also, how are you accounting for furloughed contacts that will return (at some point)?
» With a shift to a remote environment, many have had to accommodate a different schedule to care for children or conduct remote learning, for example—altering work hours and thus communication. Are the timings of your communications when they need to be under current conditions?
» With travel disrupted, many senior executives are likely at their desk more often, making them easier to reach. Are you taking advantage?
Accounting for these types of changes, you need to ensure that there are no redundancies in your marketing plan: e.g., that you’re not oversaturating an audience, duplicating offers or reaching out to the wrong people at the wrong time. This is where clearly structured and sufficiently segmented plans are paramount, starting with easy calendar visualization with a few helpful features:
» Filtering: Look at only what you need at the most granular level, cutting down on clutter and getting superfluous information out of your line of sight.
» Synchronization: Subscribe to a marketing calendar slice that’s relevant only for you and specific members of your team.
» Use color: Assign colors to individual tactic types, eliminating sifting through pages of homogenous black and white text to find what you need.
If you thought customer retention was important pre-pandemic, it’s time to turn the flame up even more. With the aforementioned company reorganizations and changing strategies, as well as the uncertain economic climate, buying decisions are inevitably being canceled or put on hold, making the focus on current customers ever-so important.
“Gaining a competitive advantage requires delivering an exceptional customer experience, and companies will succeed only if they put the customer at the center of their entire operating model,” Forrester wrote, adding that companies can evolve toward a “customer-obsessed culture” by reconsidering “organizational structure, talent, culture, metrics, processes and technologies.”
Now, however, because you no longer have the luxury of physically sitting in front of your customers, you need to consider alternative ways of reaching them. If you typically hold in-person training, seminars, or trade shows, for instance, you now need to figure out how to virtually conduct these events without diminishing their value—and, importantly, how to effectively organize all the moving (and restructuring) parts.
How Uptempo can help: More productive marketers have more time for customers. For example, if you’re spending hours each month chasing administrative paperwork for purchases, invoices, and payments, you might be delaying the delivery of a PO for an event and, in the end, spending less time doing marketing. Instead, you need to be able to match POs and invoices to the elements of your marketing plan, as well as effectively manage any rogue expenses that pop up.
Marketers should be able to easily aggregate purchase needs into consolidated purchase requests and transmit them to their purchasing system (without error), and then be able to track any updates. (Want to see this? Go here to get a demo!) In the end, this could lead to better vendor/supplier relationships, fewer errors, and higher marketing and purchasing productivity—all leading to happier customers.
One more thing
Figuring out your optimal marketing strategy during a global pandemic was certainly unprecedented. (Sorry for the 2020 buzzword, but let’s put a positive spin on it: The times were unprecedented because technology enabled us to better weather the pandemic, with greater connectivity, collaboration, and transparency than ever before! Imagine trying to market your offerings during the pandemic of 1918 with no data and no access to employees, customers or markets!)
There’s a lot of helpful advice out there, but because we’ve never experienced something like this in the age of digital marketing, nobody knows exactly what the secret recipe is for marketing your brand and maintaining ROI.
Similarly, Forrester made an important point to conclude their research: While you assess “the many sources of information, insight and trends” out there, be sure to also focus on what you know works best for your organization, relying on your own “knowledge, experience and common sense.”
“Consider information, insights and trends in the appropriate context to make reasoned, incremental decisions,” they added.
Whether you’re looking to improve your marketing planning efforts, gain better visibility into spending, or see what’s working and what’s not for your prospects, we’re here to help you get aligned, make sure you’re targeting the right people and, as we all want, help your business achieve its goals.
Get in touch to see if our solutions could be the right fit for your organization.