Marketing is changing rapidly. It is becoming increasingly complicated with new channels, trends and formats making waves every single day. This requires marketers to move fast while dealing with budget constraints, limited resources, working across a range of marketing channels along with ever evolving tech.
According to a study of 260 global marketing decision makers by the DAC Group more than eight in ten (85%) are adjusting marketing strategies to prepare for a recession. Amidst mounting pressure to improve ROI, marketers are focusing on reducing unnecessary spend (71%), consolidating marketing efforts (68%), and bringing tech/services back in-house (67%).
Here is a summary of just some of the challenges faced most commonly;
Identifying target segments
Agreeably we are all creating content for the end customer. Identifying this target audience and defining their persona is key to crafting relevant content to engage them. Target audience is more often a set of tools that help identify the collective needs and wants of the end consumer, whereas buyer persona, is relevant in a more B2B context where these buyer personas may differ based on the business information they prefer to consume. There are often multiple customer personas and hence multiple target audiences. Defining them to the nth detail is important to build a relevant content strategy. Once the content strategy is defined, it allows us to develop assets aligned to this strategy. Defining customer personas and understanding where they sit in the customer journey will help identify the format of content they prefer to consume. Top funnel folks often are satiated with infographics, one-pagers and eBooks. Moving further into the funnel, content consumers would like to be intrigued by short case studies, white papers, shorter reports, videos and podcasts. Further along the funnel there is appetite for longer case studies, in-depth reports, analysis and research and of course demos.
There is no one way – or the right way
Marketing channels and methods are evolving faster than ever before. Audiences are not necessarily loyal to any one channel. ‘Attention is the real estate that we are all vying for’, as rightly mentioned by the controversial marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk, of Vaynermedia. Audiences are quick to jump ship and have reducing attention spans than ever before and not to forget the challenges that competitors bring to the table. Where there could be a few set channels and formats that you would be using as part of your marketing strategy, it is important to invest in newer channels and methods to test what works with your audience. For example, for B2B, email nurtures are often a sure shot way to engage your audience. Experimenting with webinars, podcasts, videos and social media in a fine balance could get your target audience engaged across multiple channels and at different stages of their buyer journey. Hence it is important to be open to trying and testing multiple channels and tactics.
Audiences are well informed
With more and more digital tools available to your audience, they are savvy and often carry out their own research well before approaching your shop window, a.k.a website. They are reading reviews and ratings, researching detailed product information, comparing you with your competitors and consuming user information to understand their potential journey better – all this is even before making their first enquiry. Hence, it is important to understand your customer’s buy cycle. In the B2B space, the buying cycle is often long and complicated, involving multiple stages – needs assessment, comparison, evaluation, and purchase. Identifying each stage of the buying cycle, the type of assets that engage your audience at each step and topics that keep them coming back is a golden formula that each marketer wishes to understand. There is no right or wrong, because buying cycles change as it is all H2H. Just as we saw during the pandemic, there were so many buying cycles that took unexpected turns, resulting in marketers having to resort to changes in their marketing strategies, fast and in real time.
According to The Content Formula’s Michael Brenner, 93% of CMOs state that their greatest challenge is showing measurable ROI.
While we marketers have more tools, dashboards, data and hence insights, it is getting increasingly complicated to measure success of the campaigns we are running. This is because the goal post is constantly moving. It is no longer just about open rates and click through rates, but more and more about sales attributed to marketing campaigns and hence leads generated through sales qualified activities. Defining these clearly, getting them understood and agreed across the board will help in building the marketing department as a ‘sales complimenting, value adding’ department as against a ‘cost center’.
Rising inflation, a looming recession and cost of living crises are just some of the reasons why companies are tightening their belts when it comes to ‘spending’. The big question is asking for a marketing budget, outlining how it will be spend and conveying the value it will bring in turn. ‘Prove it or lose it’ is a common challenge we face quarter on quarter and year on year. So how do you ask for what you need and then prove the value it brings?
Define business goals, align marketing strategies to achieve these goals, identify the mix to deliver it and define the metrics to measure the success. Make data driven investment decisions, understand the data that matters and build the analytics models that give you the insights that are needed to measure what is working and what isn’t. One quick tip – do not get dazzled by shiny new tech! Stick to what truly matters is achieving the business outcomes that you have set for your team. Educating your business to acknowledge that marketing is a revenue-generating department and not an expense goes a long way to securing the budget especially in challenging times.
The key is to define your marketing goals, identify the challenges that keep you from achieving them and work through them systematically to build and deliver marketing strategies that bring true value. Being prepared is half the battle won.