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If you’re a marketer, odds are 2021 was a big year—and a tough one, too. It’s likely that top management asked you to help drive revenue and strengthen the brand while cutting costs at the same time. You probably adopted new technologies and maybe even revamped your organization for more agility. You consistently worked hard to attract and retain top talent. And it’s been more than 20 months with your foot fully on the gas pedal.
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2022 is going to be a big year too, but in different ways. From my vantage point at a firm that regularly surveys other chief marketing officers about their thoughts and plans, here are my marketing predictions for this year.
If last year was your first time being challenged by leaders looking to you for answers, get used to it. This year, the results that marketers can provide are going to be more in demand than ever.
After a pandemic-driven drop in marketing spending, budgets are growing again. Most businesses are back in growth mode, so reaching new and existing customers is a top priority. Just as important, technology tools including cloud and artificial intelligence are helping marketers quantify their value. You can now ask your chief financial officer for additional dollars to help you deliver new revenue and have the numbers to prove it.
Purpose is a big part of why clients and stakeholders look to a company: 45 percent of U.S. consumers consider values and commitment to doing the right thing before making a purchase.
This year, marketers should put purpose front and center, but that won’t work if your values are just for show. Consumers are too smart and too skeptical. Your company’s purpose has to be lived. If it’s not, you may need to schedule a meeting with top management. Come with data in hand showing just how much an authentic sense of purpose can do for the business. More than half of customers (and employees) consider “ethical business practices” part of the definition of trust.
The market for martech is booming—it’s now worth nearly $350 billion and represents more than a quarter of marketing budgets. With so much money flowing, you should be more thoughtful than ever about what you buy. Before you add something new, check if you’re fully utilizing what you already have. Also consider if your people are ready. Most marketers want to learn new things, but you can’t ask them to learn a new system every quarter.
If you do need a new technology, confirm it will integrate with your existing stack, provide data that can drive marketing decisions and offer a user experience that encourages people to actually use it. Above all, let data drive your next martech purchase: It can show you which tech to use and which you can live without.
Marketing plans used to change once a year. Now, once a week is too slow. Martech tools let you develop campaigns fast, then adjust them in real time as data flows in on what’s working today, and as AI uses that data to help predict what will work tomorrow.
To quickly roll out new marketing, you’ll need more than tech. You need a marketing team organized for agility, with a standardized process that includes clear roles and responsibilities and a unified approach to content and tone. You also need to work closely with the business, so you know how they’re iterating products and services, and with sales, so they’ll be ready to clinch the deal.
The top reason why marketing talent jumps ship isn’t compensation; it’s better career opportunities. That may mean a promotion, but it can also mean access to technology and data-driven decision-making. It means a job that challenges marketers to work and think in new ways. It’s important to offer marketers remote and hybrid working options that enable a seamless experience and upskilling opportunities.
Also important is the human touch: creating a sense of purpose and community, even when so many marketers are working virtually. For that, you should organize events, live your company’s purpose in your own actions and, above all, show empathy for your team. Support them through their challenges, whether professional or personal.
Bonus prediction: the most important thing won’t change at all.
With all the changes our profession is going through, we can’t lose sight of the most important thing: Marketing is and always will depend first and foremost on the people on your team. No technology can ever replace their creativity and sensitivity.
So, even as you work hard to live up to your more prominent role, focus on purpose, use tech better, adopt real-time planning and win the war for talent, also make sure you’re always giving your team the respect, understanding and creative space that they deserve.
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In this article:
Matthew Lieberman is chief marketing officer, PwC.