Change is hard. The cost for standing still is not only a lost business opportunity. The steep price is a fast track to company irrelevancy and a career brick wall. Let’s choose change!
With this commitment, marketing executives are in an ideal position to be change agents both inside their organization and in the market, defining and capitalizing on market shifts. Not only do CMOs understand their markets, but they are also on the frontline: engaging customers, prospects, audiences, and communities that matter. They have access to data that’s ready to be turned into insights. Furthermore, they are built to think in terms of go-to-market business models and strategies. If we wait for the Board, CEO, or CFO to give us marching orders, it will be much, much harder, and not nearly as satisfying. The focus is to make our fellow executives become our partners in this “change to win and play bigger” mission.
Understanding the Change Drivers in the Acceleration Economy
Oftentimes, we see that speed and convenience are valued over perfection. Secondly, agility is often rewarded over company size. Finally, customer, buyer, and employee experiences tend to trump loyalty. In this economy and world, a critical step for business and marketing leaders is to understand the drivers that will activate and deliver the change needed.
On the surface, it is not a revolutionary statement. But when you dig in, you understand the ways other companies crush you. For instance, they are able to change and adapt at the speed of markets and customers.
Capital is available and relatively cheap, use it.
There is good news. According to Crunchbase, $288 billion in new venture capital funding has been poured into the market over the last 12 months. Interest rates are at all-time lows. So, nearly every business has access to capital.
However, there is bad news. This also means that your market is being disrupted and flooded with new ideas, new solutions, and new technologies. They are all competing to win in the Acceleration Economy. The CMO needs to be an active participant. This includes driving the go-to-market strategy and packaging the business case to secure the necessary capital and budget.
Actions you can take:
- Bring your CXO team together. You can lead planning, packaging, and delivery of the evolved go-to-market plan.
- Find, develop, and bring to life the wins and increased business value. You can do this by showing what’s in it uniquely for key stakeholders. For instance, these stakeholders can include investors, customers, employees, and market influencers.
- Define your financial and capitalization game plan for the next one, two, and three years. You can accomplish this by working with your CFO and CXO peers.
Buyers and customers value self-service and intuitive products, embed these wherever possible.
The B2C experience is the baseline expectation for B2B customers and audiences. Your financial provider experience must feel like Apple Pay. For example, if your engagement interface, billing and payment, customer support process, and product information are not accessible, intuitive, intelligent, and ready for business, you’re going to churn customers faster than Joey Chestnut obliterates hot dogs on the 4th of July on Coney Island. Our buyers have and want control.
An important consideration is prioritizing where you need to lead and innovate versus when being a fast follower works to your advantage. This, of course, depends on the maturity and size of your markets. What we do know about today’s finicky, demanding customer (note that I purposely did not assume or use “smart” or “informed” to describe our customers) is that me-too products, cookie-cutter go-to-market strategies, and friction-filled sales and marketing engagement systems, processes and experiences just won’t cut it.
Actions you can take:
- Recruit and make your best prospects, customers and partners part of your product and market development process. You can carry this out by using strategies like product led growth.
- Deploy people and tech to “shop” experiences across all critical buyer and market touchpoints for a simple feedback loop and continuous improvement.
- Think and develop external processes first. This helps to find areas of customer delight and scale. Then, you can adapt your internal processes, not the other way around
Use data to find opportunities, not just measure stuff.
Companies are drowning in data. But, few invest in the talent or resources to put it to work. One of the fastest ways to action and drive change is to focus on developing a data strategy. The strategy would have to align with your market, buyers and business, compliance and trust standards, data hygiene processes, and data systems. It’s mind-blowing what you can learn, impact, and change with the right data strategy.
Because it is complicated, many organizations procrastinate or turn data strategy efforts into big-bang, never-ending management consulting projects. Resist. Rather, focus on data activation around high-impact areas. Some examples of this include analyzing product usage and gaps to prioritize and increase adoption as well as plotting account and buyer engagement to aim resources around opportunity. One final example is using artificial intelligence data to create ideal customer and account profiles and map customer and account journeys.
Actions you can take:
- Hire and empower data leadership and data science talent. This helps to gather, access, and action key fundamental data sources and build from there.
- Nurture and feed a culture of curiosity and “data accountability.” This is not just to measure everything, but to be able to get insight in front of key stakeholders who can action. (Note: measurement and accountability are always important.)
- Reward people and showcase for the stakeholders how, when, and where data and data-driven strategies and solutions are impacting the business.
- Build data into your products and solutions for the customer to use and for you to get real-time feedback, usage, and adoption to cease endless product development feature creep and bloat
Invest in agile technology, not buy more systems.
We know that all companies are in the tech business today. However, it doesn’t mean you have to burn resources, cash, and precious time on developing a heavy infrastructure. The “build it and they will come” approach will put you at a disadvantage in the Acceleration Economy. With low code/no code, agile development, and cloud infrastructure and integrations tools so ubiquitous, gone are the days of having to build out (and then rip out legacy) expensive systems that take years to build and deliver minimal value. This modern strategy provides the process, connectedness, and compliance standards to scale your business with velocity. It also gets you out of being a pure technology developer and allows you to focus on the business.
Actions you can take:
- Work and organize in sprints to deliver new apps, new integrations, connected buyer journeys and internal processes.
- Identify and deploy artificial intelligence to move from reactive, outdated prospect and customer engagement to more predictive and actionable models and plays.
- Use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate processes. This helps to fill gaps to free up your team and resources to focus on the most strategic and creative endeavors that differentiate your company and solutions.
Identifying the change drivers and levers and bringing them to the CXO table/Board room with data, rewards, and consequences earns trust and accelerate your effort. Marketing has a huge opportunity to impact the business in new ways. You can lead your company and markets in one of the most exciting times in business history.