This is an Emergency Broadcast Message

07 Oct 2022

I recently bought an item I never thought I would own. A hand crank radio. Why? Because unlike our parents and grandparents, I’ve had the privilege of growing up in one of the most peaceful times in history. I’ve not suffered through a major war close to home or calamitous political upheaval. As a gen X gal, I’ve had it pretty good, and I know it.

Yet, I’m feeling like the world is a much more uncertain place than it ever has been. And that’s why I've bought something so un-digital (sorry Spotify). I suddenly feel the need to be prepared for the unknown.

Closer to my professional world, the headlines are equally grim from the IPA Bellwether report to the IAB. Our marketing press is full of stories of brands pulling back on marketing spend and preparing for an uncertain economic climate. If we know one thing about business and the markets, it’s that uncertainty is always problematic. 

What I’m hearing from marketers is a mixed bag of opinions. There’s a swing between wanting to bunker down and pull back on marketing spend (which we are certainly seeing from the scale ups) to riding it out and continuing to invest smartly. We’ve learned a lot about marketing in uncertain times in the last two years, and what the evidence shows is that those who adapt to quickly changing circumstances and spend wisely emerge fitter and stronger. And make no mistake, times will get better.

So, how should marketers be navigating these choppy waters? Especially when you have the government telling you to pull back on marketing spend! 

 Four steps to be prepared

1.   Sort out your agency model. 

Is your agency model match fit to support you through the next phase of your business? If not maybe now is the time to look more closely at the following:

a.   Do you have the right agencies doing the right work at the right price? What are your gaps and overlaps? Where can you drive efficiencies? There’s probably never been a better time to audit your agency ecosystem

       i.   Start at the top with strategy. Are your lead strategic agencies set up and ready to support your plans as they evolve? Have you sat around the table together to talk through your challenges?

      ii.   Do you have the right executional agencies to cover both the frequency and quantity of work you need to deliver? Can you pull back or pivot if needed?

       iii.   Have you in-housed certain work? Is it working well? Have you checked? How do you measure success?

       iv.   Production decoupling - need to be smarter about how your marketing gets delivered? Look here as it’s often a good area to investigate when you need to drive efficiencies. What are your options?

2.   The devil is in the detail – make process improvements a priority

How work gets done is equally important to what work gets done. Business process definition, design and development can yield huge improvements that drive better value

a.   Have you audited your marketing processes to ensure you are working in the most efficient manner both internally and with your agency partners.

b.    How do you brief, feedback, sign off and iterate on work?

c.    Is everyone trained on how to work efficiently and get the best out of each other?

3.   Ensure your functional design is future fit. 

People are your most important asset, and they can only do their best work in the right environment.

a.   Have you done the work around optimising your marketing functional design? Have you considered a new org design around centralisation, product or customer journey? What is the right shape for your organisation? If you’re still organised around channels, it may be time to think again.

b.   Are your people, equipped with the right capabilities to support your marketing strategy? What upskilling and training is on offer to keep them top of their game?

4.   Plan and deliver your martech blueprint.

a.   Martech never sleeps and the marketing function needs to be driven by data and analytics to keep on top of customers trends and how best to meet their needs.

b.   Have you rescoped your martech road map in light of any change in strategic direction? How are you making the most of the technology you already have in place? Our recent ecosystem report found that 46% of CMOs say that keeping up with the pace of digital and technological change is the number one challenge they face. Given the inevitable squeeze on budgets, what can you do to make the most of what you already have?

So, there you have it. Four Ps of readiness to focus on – partners, process, people and platforms. Once you audit and assess, you’ll be in a better state to navigate the choppy waters ahead with a clear roadmap for change. Oh, and maybe buy a new never know!

About The Author


Robin Charney


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