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Lara Sinclair — 21 April 2021
Globally, the role of marketing has grown in stature due to the need to monitor rapidly changing consumer behaviour and to reach audiences via digital channels during the past year: more than seven in 10 respondents in both markets said the importance of marketing had increased at their organisation.
That boost in prestige came despite an average 8.2% fall in marketing jobs in 2020 overall, the research found, and while employment in the sector is tipped to grow as many organisations look to expand their workforce, four in 10 respondents are predicting a one to two-year lag until those jobs return.
For marketers in sectors and companies that were able to grow during 2020, this year is about acting quickly to scale up marketing activities and take advantage of that momentum.
Marketing spending is expected to bounce back in 2021 with an average 14.3% budget increase (11% in the UK) after a 4% fall last year (17% in the UK). Digital marketing and brand building budgets are both set to grow by about 10% (more in the UK).
In Australia, Dentsu’s 2021 Ad Spend Report forecasts a 5.9% increase in ad spend this year following a 11.2% contraction during 2020.
Marketing has a golden opportunity to reset its place in the corporate world, taking advantage of the new reliance placed upon its ability to generate insights into customer behaviour and to reach prospects wherever they are with relevant messaging, building recognition and ultimately converting them into paying customers.
But the figures also show that in many organisations, marketing teams are being asked to do all the above, plus in many cases help brands regain ground lost during the pandemic, with fewer resources.
And most marketers are already spending the bulk of their time on the work that needs to be done today; two-thirds of their time is spent on the present with just over one-third spent on preparing for the future.
So how can marketers produce more with fewer people, build brands and improve the customer experience, and still invest the time they need to plan for whatever lies ahead?
We’ve found marketing teams can scale up production, dramatically increase output and significantly reduce the time and cost required to produce consistent, on-brand marketing materials without adding staff by adhering to these four principles:
As any marketer with a strong brand knows, standardisation is critical for creating brand consistency and cut-through in marketing. That means creating a framework that allows your brand and your marketing collateral to be represented in the same way no matter who’s doing the work.
For lots of repetitive tasks, bespoke creative processes are time-consuming and unnecessary. It’s much more efficient to invest the time up-front to establish a clear framework governing how your brand should be represented − and then roll that out across your organisation.
Tools to help
2. Process optimisation
The switch to remote work practices in marketing and other teams that work closely with marketing has made it essential to proactively manage the marketing and creative processes.
Poor briefing often results in work that needs to be re-briefed and re-done. Simply capturing all the key details up-front in a clear brief can shave weeks from your marketing process.
The creative production and approval process is also ripe for optimisation. Having self-service creative platforms in place that allow minor changes to assets for personalisation or localisation without damaging the brand can help free your designers from the death-by-a-thousand-cuts process of constantly making minor changes to the same assets.
Having well-understood processes for amending and approving marketing work can also reduce the approval bottlenecks that can paralyse your organisation.
Where once you may have wandered over to your colleague’s desk and verbally briefed them on a new campaign, or physically shown your CMO the latest version of an ad for approval, those processes are often now managed remotely, which makes it much easier for input to be misunderstood or missed completely. It’s also incredibly time-consuming to try to manage the marketing process using email.
Tools to help
Automation is mission-critical in 2021, according to Gartner, because it generates efficiencies, streamlining and accelerating business operations and increasing output at a time when agility is essential.
Anything that can be automated should be automated, argues Gartner in a report on the top strategic technology trends for the year: “Organizations that don’t focus on efficiency, efficacy and business agility will be left behind.”
Marketing is under-automated in most organisations, though that is tipped to increase significantly in coming years.
Tools to help
Martech that doesn’t integrate with your other tools and systems is officially old hat. Eliminate the need for manual data and asset handling by ensuring all your marketing tools work together effectively, saving time and minimising risk.
This goes way beyond having your CRM talk to your email marketing platform. Integrate your creative production systems with your digital asset manager, or automatically send approved work to print. Integrate your brand automation tool with your CRM and create and send personalised assets to a list of contacts in the blink of an eye.
Marketers have an opportunity to reimagine the role of marketing in their organisation in the coming year or two − but to do this it’s important to minimise the time-consuming, inefficient and manual work that can slow organisations down.
Embedding standardisation, process optimisation, automation and integration in the bedrock of your marketing organisation will enable marketers to scale at speed, producing more with less, building strong brands and meeting future challenges head on.