July 30, 2020

Marketers, are you staying relevant? 5 questions to ask yourself.

If you’ve been keeping up with the marketing press and LinkedIn in the last couple of months, as a marketer you’ll be convinced about why it’s important to invest in marketing through a crisis and a recessionary environment.   

Your customers will quickly forget you if you don’t stay top of mind, relevant and make yourself easy to purchase. A hiatus in brand activity means needing to invest more in the future to get back to where you left off.  Brands that increase their share of voice during a recession have emerged with a greater share of market the other side. 

Yet the internal conversations aren’t so straightforward at a time when budgets are being scrutinized. How, as a leader of a marketing team or function, do you stay relevant?   

(1) What are you obsessed about? 

Customer, customer, customer.  Are you talking about them, your understanding of their needs and behaviours, how they are changing and how you are leading the brand to respond?  Stand out as the voice of the customer in the business, and be mindful the customer doesn’t get lost in the sea of conversations about pipelines and processes, blockers and budgets.   

(2) How are you defining your role?  

What’s going to help achieve business objectives right now?  Stating what marketing is accountable for and how it will drive business value, aligning this with senior leaders and engaging direct teams is imperative. Whilst this might be obvious to you, the role of a marketer can be one of the most ambiguous ones, and views on what marketing should be delivering can vary enormously. You can only exceed people’s expectations, if you align on what those expectations are.   

(3) What’s slowing you down? 

If your existing operating system doesn’t allow you to quickly pivot and act with speed and agility, where is there opportunity to do things differently?  Processes are frustrating and changing them can feel like moving a tanker.  But they’re not immovable.  Collaborate with your wider teams and external partners to find the parts that can be de-coupled to bring greater agility. 

(4) When did you last start from zero? 

In a budget constrained environment, if you “cut” versus your existing plans, it will only feel like a sacrifice for you and your team, and likely negatively impact on achieving your objectives.  Instead, start from zero.  This helps you think about how can you achieve your objectives in a completely different way, and forces transparency of budget lines that you may never have questioned before.     

(5) What does the future look like? 

An excellent marketer provides hope and inspiration with their bold vision of what the future will look like for the brand, and the road to get there. This is even more important through challenging times, and it’s all too easy when everyone is busy getting things done, to lose sight of why they are doing them.  Marketing leaders need to craft their story of vision, purpose and strategy, grounded in the latest customer insight, finding the balance between agility and delivery in the short-term, and building the brand for the future.   

Written by Hina Wainwright and Jen Woollford, NEON Leaders