Now that we are about to enter calendar Q4, many marketers will begin thinking about their plans and budgets for next year. Fortunately, the economic outlook is improving and many companies will be plotting their courses for competing under slightly different conditions. Here are five key trends that I would encourage marketing leaders to consider at the outset of their planning processes.
- Change will be imperative: Whether it is economic conditions, competitive position or media mix, the status quo won’t be acceptable. Successful CMOs will be the change agents for their companies. There will be winners in the recovery period, but they won’t be companies married to their pre-recession or survival period strategies. So trend #1 will be an increase in structured change initiatives led by marketers.
- Being ordinary won’t cut it: Businesses and consumers are beginning to buy things again after this period of fear-based belt tightening. However, integrated marketing campaigns that promote average products will fail to connect. Customers will be looking for remarkable products from remarkable companies that deliver remarkable experiences. Customers have options and don’t need to settle. Trend #2 will be integrated campaigns that promise something extraordinary from companies that will deliver on the promise.
- Engaging customers will be essential: While this is not new, the forms of engagement are changing rapidly. And preferences of customers will vary widely. Some like e-mail. Others like Twitter. Some want mobile access to a website. Others prefer dialing the call center. So trend #3 will be more comprehensive, preference-based customer communications systems.
- Engaging employees will be just as critical: Retaining employees in a period of high unemployment isn’t difficult. But having them highly engaged and motivated to attract new customers and deliver an experience that delights them is. A renewed focus on connecting with and enabling the employee base will be facilitated with tools like internal blogs, wikis, webcasts and Web-based information portals. Trend #4 will be the active development of integrated programs that engage employees.
- Spending wisely will be a mandate: Again, nothing new here. But without systems to measure effectively what really works to drive the acquisition and retention of profitable customers, this mandate will go unmet. This is hard, unglamorous work that involves linkages with the IT and sales organization. It takes discipline to discern not just what can be measured but what should be measured. New techniques are evolving to assess the impact of multi-faceted campaigns that are beyond the simplistic one-dimensional “last click” attribution. So trend #5 will be improved analytics systems that support wiser resource allocation.
Which of these do you believe will be the most challenging for your organization to address?