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New Year, New Challenges: Navigating 2023 Planning for Marketing Teams

A lot has changed in 2022. We’ve innovated through the disruption and changes in buying behavior following a global pandemic, adapted to a hybrid work schedule, and handled the transition of teams during a Great Resignation. This has had significant implications for the way we as marketers do our jobs, as we’ve learned how to re-engage our buyers and customers at each phase in this journey. As we look ahead, a new challenge is here –  navigating a difficult economic climate – the forecast calls for a 100% chance of recession. And we know from 2008 that periods of recession come with increased internal pressure, decreased budgets, and changing buyer behavior.

All of these internal and external pressures over the last few years have caused the workforce to burn out. The US Labor Bureau reports that labor productivity decreased 4.1% in the second quarter of 2022, but hours worked increased by 2.6%. If left unchecked, this gap between the amount of work taking place and actual output has the potential to hugely impact the bottom line. Not to mention, our own research shows that most marketers are still working in silos – most of us send and receive an average of 300 messages a day across 15 or more applications, and three quarters of us feel stressed about having to juggle multiple tasks, systems and applications.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Marketers are a unique breed. We are highly creative, dynamic, and driven by the desire to do meaningful work.

We’ve tackled some of the above challenges head on and will do it again in 2023 to meet our customers where they’re at. As we start to put a bow on plans for next year, there are five things marketing leaders should prioritize to ensure their teams are driving significant business impact. These will help establish your marketing department as a strategic driver for the organization, rather than just a support function.

Accelerate time to market

The pace of work has certainly changed. We’ve always had to do more with less, but now we’re faced with another necessary acceleration – one that requires us to get in front of our buyers faster than the competition. A study done by McKinsey & Company found if you are late to market by six months, for the next five years, your earnings will be 33% less than a “right on time” scenario. And even “right on time” scenarios see a 4% loss. This means we need to be ahead of the curve.

And given economic pressures, we have to reach buyers before competitors do and understand their buying habits – what they’re looking for, where they shop and through which channels, and their purchase intent. To outpace competitors, we must accelerate our time spent on planning (so finish those 2023 plans now!) so we can quickly maximize the time towards execution and outcomes.

Drive ROI

It’s no secret that demonstrating ROI can be difficult for marketers. And as consumers ourselves, we know that the cost of just about everything is going up. Right now, there’s pressure on organizations to keep costs in check and hold teams accountable for every dollar spent, and there’s pressure on teams to defend their budgets by demonstrating ROI. But our research shows that only 37% of business leaders understand how their teams are performing against goals and objectives. In the new year, understanding measurement and having the right tools in place to effectively track and report will be essential for your team. Having visibility into these results also helps tie individual contributions to company goals.

I’ll touch more on that shortly.

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Execute omnichannel integrated campaigns

Companies with omnichannel engagement strategies retain an average 89% of customers compared to just 33% for companies without. An omnichannel strategy gives marketers the ability to deliver a consistent message across multiple channels and customize that message based on the audience. This is paramount in a time where buyer behaviors are ever changing, and if you don’t change with them, you’ll get left behind. One of the largest cultural shifts we’ve seen is the move away from the traditional sales pitch to more authentic marketing. To build trust we must show up at the right time, in the right place, with the right message. An omnichannel approach can also eliminate silos between different marketing functions, which we know to be a hindrance to productivity and a pain point for most teams.

Optimize marketing resources

Another priority driven by the economic climate is resource optimization. We’re starting to see budget cuts across the board and marketing teams haven’t been spared.

You want to make sure time and money is used wisely. There are three things to focus on here: resource planning into campaigns so you can estimate project resource needs and request resources accurately; optimizing workloads so you can assign work based on team members’ availability, capacity, and strengths; and clear budgeting will be critical in helping you accurately determine project budgets and margins.

Nurture employee satisfaction

We can do all of the business things right but an non-engaged workforce is an unproductive one.

On top of that, marketers think big and it can be difficult to ignite a creative spark if we are spread thin and burnt out. Happy employees commit 26% fewer clerical errors, demonstrate 79% lower burnout, and have a 61% lower likelihood of churning compared to unhappy employees. They’re also more productive. If you want to achieve the first four priorities, you have to make sure your teams feel empowered and have the right tools in place to do their job and demonstrate success.

Bonus Tip

In addition to taking the above actions, marketers ultimately need a solution that serves as a single source of truth for both their team and the larger marketing organization to ensure all work is in one place for visibility and efficiency. Solutions, like collaborative work management software, can help with resource management to make sure the right people are working on the right project at the right time, allow for goal-tracking against specific outcomes, and provide integrated insights to see performance across channels. The good news is that we’re on the right track – 86% of business leaders have made it a top three priority to create a single source of truth for both the information that is created and the activity that happens in their business function.

Lastly, and I’ve touched on this before, history shows that we must have a deep understanding of our customer. A Harvard Business Review study conducted around the last recession speaks to this critical need to understand where customers are at in their spending journey and what they are willing to spend on, and offers two additional lessons for marketers: we must nimbly respond to changes in demand (both during recession and when the economy recovers); and we must prepare for a possible long-term shift in consumers’ values and attitudes. This sounds like a difficult feat in addition to navigating changes within our own business, but I think marketers are up for the challenge. And if we view this as an opportunity, there is huge potential for marketing to set the precedent for the rest of the organization and ultimately take a more strategic seat at the table.


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