5 Tips for CMOs Handling Uncertainty

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Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Friday, September 18, 2020

As Chief Marketing Officer, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities to juggle, from allocating marketing budget to improving ROI, and ensuring successful marketing campaigns that achieve growth. But the marketing landscape is always changing, as are consumer preferences. This means that you need to be agile and responsive if you hope to navigate current events and stay ahead of the curve.

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This has been an unprecedented year for businesses across the globe and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has prompted marketing professionals to rethink their campaigns, how they're staying in touch with customers, and how they're spending their budgets. Not to mention that with many businesses having to close or drastically adapt the way they operate, many have had to be careful and sparing with their budget in order to slash spending and save money.

In fact, research found that a staggering 89% of multinational brands began deferring their marketing campaigns back in May 2020, with many planning to do so until the end of this year.

Despite these findings, it’s important that CMOs are able to harness the potential of uncertain times like this and approach them with confidence. They should look at this slow down as a chance to stop and spend dedicated time focusing on internal operations, innovation, and engagement strategies.

This way, they can position marketing as an important pillar for business success and one which can help the business to navigate its way through uncertain times like these and any others that may arise in the future. In light of this, we’ve pulled together five tips for CMOs currently handling uncertainty.

1. Understand and utilize changes in consumer behavior

Times of uncertainty often change the way we see the world, the way we behave and live our lives. For example, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people work, socialize, and shop. Face-to-face interactions were (and still are) being kept to a minimum and marketers must adapt to mirror this change in behavior and sentiment. With people spending more time indoors and more time online, digital media and advertising have been absolutely crucial for reaching consumers.

Keeping the focus on customers is absolutely vital during uncertain times like these. Firstly, because their needs are always changing and secondly because you need to continue building trust and meeting their expectations, despite what is going on in the world around them. The job of the CMO and their team is to understand these changes in consumer behavior and to think about the best ways to communicate with them whilst always staying true to the brand.

The best way to do this is to invest in analytics and monitoring resources that look at changes in consumer trends and values. These real time insights can be the key to staying on top of these changes.

2. Invest in your team

In times of uncertainty, particularly when budgets have been reduced and advertising put on hold, CMOs should use the opportunity to identify any gaps that might be present within their team. After all, your marketing team is your most valuable asset when it comes to creativity and innovation, and they're also going to be the people that help you through times of crisis or ambiguity.

What’s more, though uncertain times can pose new challenges, they don’t last forever and it’s important that this time is not lost or wasted. Investing in training and support for employees is a long-term investment, one which helps to create a talented, resilient, and competitive team that can handle anything the future throws at them.

And this doesn't have to be expensive either; there are plenty of budget- friendly and free training courses and resources out there that you can use if you're trying to keep your marketing budget lean.

3. Re-evaluate your current marketing toolkit and strategies

With money on the mind and a slow down in marketing campaigns, uncertain times can present a good opportunity to clean house. This means re-evaluating your current marketing toolkit to see if your current strategies can be improved, and looking through the marketing resources and tools you invest in to see which are being utilized and which could be dropped or cut from the budget.

Amongst the many and varied daily tasks that a CMO must juggle, there is rarely a chance to re-evaluate and revamp the entire marketing toolkit this way. So in times of uncertainty, when the daily operations may be altered or slowed, this can be the perfect time to trim the fat and get rid of any unused tools. By using analytics and pulling together detailed reports, you can evaluate the ROI of all marketing tools and investments to determine where your budget is best spent.

4. Build trust and long-lasting relationships

As well as cultivating and nurturing better relationships with consumers, CMOs should consider their relationships with vital third-parties, vendors, and service providers. During the current Coronavirus pandemic, businesses across the globe have felt the pinch, but by creating trust with these key players and finding mutual ways to cut costs, anticipate future needs, and protect both parties, marketing teams can come out the other side better prepared and with a competitive advantage.

5. Invest in new technologies

We might have spoken about cleaning house and ditching any tools or resources that weren't delivering a strong ROI, but times of uncertainty don't have to mean you can’t invest in anything new. Times of crisis undoubtedly bring with them big changes to the way we live and behave and ‘new normals’ begin to emerge. In the case of the ongoing health crisis, digital and contactless technologies have very much become the key to success.

By strategically investing in new technologies that offer increased productivity, transparency, and efficiency, CMOs can future-proof their marketing strategies and enable them to make smarter more agile decisions during times of uncertainty and when they re-emerge from the other side.

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