It’s predictions time. And very rightly so. For most companies whose fiscal year matches the calendar year, the planning cycle is complete. Budgets have been allocated, and teams are getting ready to execute. This also means certain assumptions have been made with regard to the business and key functional areas. What do those business assumptions translate to in marketing?
In 2020, here are the top areas in marketing that I am concentrating on.
1. Customer Centricity: With increasing customer sophistication and demands, customer experience (CX) will likely occupy an even bigger role across the enterprise, requiring marketing to bring insights and inform everything from product and sales to operations, IT, finance and beyond. We will have to apply design thinking, user empathy and insight-driven interaction models across the board so that customers are the center of our businesses and our products and services are elevated to deliver at both the human and transactional levels.
2. An Increasingly Agile And Innovative Marketing Footprint: As business transformations continue, marketing needs to channel innovation and breakthrough growth with greater collaboration, not just in marketing-specific areas, but across the company. Therefore, we should continue to welcome challenges and extend our skills and abilities into new areas. By augmenting tools, frameworks and system-level capabilities, we can develop solutions, both long and short term, with an effective view of business needs.
3. Growing Fusion Of B2B And B2C Marketing: I expect this debate to converge further in favor of businesses that market for human consumption. Yes, the purchase cycles are drastically different, but the consumption dynamics at the end of the cycle remain largely the same and are similarly transformed in today’s unfolding digital economy. Whether business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C), our marketing principles must be unified around delivering emotional brand connections, value-driven content, personalization, transactional simplification and efficiency, and relationship-building across the life cycle.
4. Pursuing Brand Growth With Data: In today’s business world, data is inextricably linked with growth. As we move forward, we will likely see this strengthen and demonstrated effectively through insights gleaned from the data, which can now be applied to the most actionable version of brand building. Understand your audience’s changing needs. Differentiate your portfolios according to their preferences. Prioritize your brand connections based on their influences. Put data in the service of brand building.
5. Engaging With New Forms Of Content And Experiences: A plethora of content forms exist today. Among them, podcasts and videos have emerged prominently and have proven to be highly engaging and effective. As production tools and creation costs simplify, I believe they will become more entrenched in the ever-evolving dynamics of a marketer’s marketing mix and channels. We may also see more virtual reality (VR) experiences that are rich, inspiring and interactive, often putting the consumer at the heart of the story and a visualized experience.
6. Adding Emerging Tools And Technologies To Better Customer Intelligence: The marketing technology landscape continues to explode, and so does the complication of our tech stack, with many companies rarely utilizing all of it or getting complete value from it. However, with personalization still going strong and the early success of artificial intelligence-fueled tech — everything from voice searching to conversational and intent marketing — we will likely continue to onboard new tools for the absolute gain of gathering and harvesting data and garnering maximum intelligence toward more meaningful customer relationships and increased loyalty.
7. Driving Higher Value Creation With A Focus On Culture: This year made it clear: While profitability and shareholder value are important, much more critical is investing in the core of culture, employees and communities. We have come to realize that companies that follow through will see higher value creation and long-term success. As we move forward, I see us putting more efforts toward building gender and racial diversity, inclusionary workplace and hiring practices, and purpose-driven propositions that include environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities.
8. Managing Trust With Customer Data And Privacy: We may have heaved a sigh of relief after adjusting to meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, but the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires companies to confirm if they serve California residents, irrespective of where the company is located. If data is the new gold mine that’s fueling the growth of businesses, then laws aside, we need to be much more prepared for risk and have readiness and response plans around protecting the personal data of our users. Trust is a major differentiator for customers when doing business with companies.
9. Growing Investment In Marketing With Accountability: Investment in marketing is likely to continue in order for companies to deliver profit. But with that comes pressure and accountability. Therefore, we have to keep up with shifting business models, be creative in investment allocation, strategize on prioritization, and monitor, measure and optimize on an ongoing basis to demonstrate a return on investment for the business. Included in this should also be our willingness to try new approaches and take calculated risks. If not for new bets, how else are we going to continue to deliver on the promise of growth?
10. Keeping Up With The Evolving CMO Role And Scope: It’s a great time to be a marketer, yet the very title (and definition) of chief marketing officer (CMO) appears to be slipping, while other titles, such as chief growth officer, chief customer officer and even chief revenue officer are taking center stage. The discussion does not appear to be over. I think we will continue to see companies and boards structure various organizational designs — and in combinations of roles in marketing, revenue, sales, customer success, operations, etc. Irrespective of what it is called, marketing has to build partnerships across the C-suite to deliver growth.
It will be exciting to see which marketing trends rise to the top, and perhaps which new ones show up on the horizon.