Most of us are ending this year the same way we began it: reflecting on our personal and professional journeys to date. As a company founder, I empathize with the challenges businesses have faced over the past 18 months. As an experienced marketer, I know this kind of change brings new opportunities -- and also some old concerns.
In fact, the recurring issues I’ve seen over two decades underscore universal truths about trust, control and working to a vision. The specifics may change, but the overarching themes do not:
Talent. The right mix of marketing experience is critical for success. You need strategists who can address each of a company’s growth stages, along with tacticians who can execute to plan. Impactful marketing operates like an ecosystem, with each skill set inspiring and enhancing the other.
Strategy. Inordinate focus on metrics often relegates marketing to tactical, short-term thinking instead of a long-term strategic business driver. When leaders believe marketing can be turned on and off without effect or don’t recognize the value of executive visibility and employer branding, they’re missing out on marketing’s full potential.
Value. The true value of marketing is its ability to serve as both an external and internal brand ambassador. Too many times, internal communications adopt a “need-to-know” approach, which hinders scalability. Marketing can bridge company goals and in-market reality.
Money. Everyone from private business consultants to the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends you spend 7%-12% of your total revenue on marketing. Yet founders (and sometimes even experienced executives) fail to budget appropriately for marketing, leaving teams scrambling to deliver.
Power. If they’re going to move the needle on expectations and company momentum, marketers must engage directly with other executives and board members, which means a marketing leader should be part of any senior executive strategy session.
Partnerships. Often, particularly in tech companies, the CEO establishes a sales- or product-driven focus. Marketing is an asset to establishing relationships that drive every function in the company and can help shape a culture mirroring the personality a brand’s audience and potential employees have come to expect.
Content. Content is king, particularly in modern marketing when consumers want to interact with a brand on their own terms. Content done right -- having evolved from pushing an agenda into an engagement tool and growth driver -- offers an opportunity to break through the clutter and make meaningful connections.
Flexibility. The right people with the right financial resources will help you deftly navigate the ever-growing martech landscape, best practices for intergenerational engagement -- and, in the wake of 2020, the new world order defined by changing consumer behaviors.
Marketing will never be a one-size-fits-all proposition. Taking time to reflect and reframe who we are makes us stronger in our priorities and convictions. And it’s that strength -- even in the face of these persistent challenges to effective marketing -- that make us better able to deliver innovations and results that drive our clients (and our industry) ever forward.