Change occurs in every industry, and businesses failing to address it are soon side-lined. With new technology shrinking the globe and increasing competition, change will only accelerate. According to a 2015 Harvard Business Review report, business executives identified adaptability as the single most important capability for companies going through digital transformation, beating out communication skills, customer-focused problem solving, and even technical knowledge.
Preparing for Change
Change is evident in US business. The average age of listed S&P 500 companies fell from 60 in the 1950s to less than 20 years, according to Credit Suisse analysts. Fortune 500 companies shared similar fates, with only 12% of that group still there from 1955. The rest went bankrupt, merged or were acquired, or tumbled out of the rankings altogether.
Adaptability should be in everyone’s job description, and especially for chief marketing officers who find themselves on the front lines of rapidly changing marketplaces. Identifying and reacting to, or better yet, anticipating these changes, will make organizations more resilient.
The Year of the Customer
Customers are central to business, but 2020 looks like the year customers truly guide businesses through teaching brands how to sell to them. Here are a few areas in which customers look to guide industry’s marketing this year:
- Conversational marketing
- Sensory immersion
- Over-the-top advertising
- More direct communication
Adam Binder of Creative Click Media sees the coming year as the one marketing becomes conversational. Engaging customers in real time rather than waiting for responses is how customer support has been moving, but with the increasing complexity of AI, it looks to supplant sales and marketing functions.
While content saturation is definitely a thing, with consumers having handheld computers in their pockets, engaging effectively will only get harder. Brands need to build interactive experiences that engage all the senses. As with those old scratch–and–sniff perfumes from last century, touch, smell, and taste might soon join sight and sound in attracting customers.
Television advertising looks to regain prominence with the prevalence of smart TVs that allow companies to directly target customers that fit their brands. With the proliferation of streaming services, traditional television advertising is set to take another hit. Hyper-targeting provides a much clearer return on investment, so look to it replacing many regular TV campaigns.
With instant and direct interactions between companies and customers, look for text messaging and other lines of direct communication to make a comeback. As AI advances, it will make a play in this area as well.
Deconstructing in a Digital World
The deconstruction and compartmentalizing of marketing teams has transformed companies around the world, creating opportunities for outside players. Marketing has already become increasingly decentralized, with players working autonomously and directly with consumers to build brands. Just look at all the influencers on Instagram, Facebook business pages, the personalized marketing for users, and Twitter accounts dedicated to marketing. Everyone’s building a brand.
Behind this story is data. According to Robert Finlayson of the Zeno Group, using big data will help CMOs and marketing departments understand the trends, and identifying spaces in which to create content on hot topics will only accelerate. Branded content is hot, and premium content will continue to add value. Expect to see more sponsored content, as the concept of featured content is re-emerging, in the same way 20th–century radio and television shows were once “brought to you by” a sponsor.
Along with this, look for data to determine intent, where marketers place content specifically geared to those about to buy. It’s a subtle way to ease consumers along in their buying journey. Again, real time data coming from social media and browsers drives this, targeting individuals who are ready to buy.
As Facebook matures as an advertising platform, its place in the marketing world will only grow. Already marketing budgets show a shift towards Facebook ads.
“As long as the return on ad spend can support the hypothesis,” says Solomon Thimothy of OneIMS, “this will continue to be the trend.”
MaaS and Change
Along with all these changes, there’s the move by B2B marketing companies to treat marketing as a service (MaaS). As per advertising agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi in the 20th century, new MaaS companies seek to become marketing partners with businesses.
Outsourcing marketing makes sense, because it instantly gives CMOs more capacity and expertise. With the need to achieve growth objectives with limited resources, the decision seems clear-cut. Good MaaS agencies can help complement your in-house marketing departments, helping yield more sales for less spend, and ultimately better returns on investment.
These are the top five reasons why MaaS is marketing’s future:
Save costs and prove ROI – Numbers don’t lie. Outsourcing cuts costs, and offshore marketing firms are invariably more cost-effective. A good outsourced marketing firm will prove its ROI, measuring its impact, productivity, and efficiency.
Get instant access to professional marketing teams – With a team of marketing professionals geared to what you need already in place, CMOs save time and money on recruiting talent and providing skills training. Depending how closely your in-house team collaborates with a MaaS agency, you can also reap valuable skill transfers.
Dedicated focus on operations and optimization – Your focus as CMO should be on strategy. Tactics—the little things done to retain old customers or pull in new one—should be left to your offshore MaaS partner. Focus on your core business strengths and leave the marketing to the offshore marketing specialist.
Leverage digital tools to established marketing practices – Learning how to use new technologies and techniques is time-consuming and expensive. The right offshore firm guides their partners towards long-term marketing success, giving companies the competitive advantage.
Scale future growth with modern B2B concepts – CMOs need to do more with less, but are still expected to keep the company competitive through marketplace changes. Shifting efforts for executing campaigns to an offshore marketing partner while your in-house team creates workable strategies allows more control and insight over the process.
Though many companies say they want to bring their marketing back in-house, this may just be wishful thinking. Although strategy is likely to stay within most organizations, companies will increasingly outsource marketing operations involving content creation and social media. And this is why every CMO’s 2020 Budget should include investment in marketing-as-a-service companies.