By Manita Dosanjh

December 20th, 2016

Transitioning into a new year can be a daunting task for marketers. Working in an industry that is downwind of technological advancements and decisions from the biggest social networks means our jobs are often in a state of flux – what works well today probably won’t work tomorrow. Beginning a new year is all about planning, but how can you plan to succeed in an industry that is so difficult to predict?

There are some core challenges that marketing leaders can bank on encountering this new year, here’s a breakdown of what they’ll be, and how to ensure your 2017 marketing strategy will be ready for them.

The talent challenge
In 2017, at least 30% of CEOs will fire their CMOs for not mustering the blended skill set they need to pull off digital business transformation.1 Macy’s, Gap, and Nieman Marcus have already set a trend. This is a clear signal that a lot of marketing leadership just weren’t up to the job last year. As the industry pivots even more around the behavior of an erratic social media generation, it’s time to drop the old school practices of siloing social, media buying in the wrong channels and assuming you know who your audience are.

marketing strategy

Marketing leadership will demand a diverse skillset more than ever before. It’s not enough to commit yourself to either the ‘creative visionary’ or the ‘analytics nerd’ profile. To survive as a decision-maker you need to be both. Marketing teams need to be led by management that can show shrewdness in digital, social media and business strategy.  

Unsurprisingly, this need will trickle down into marketing teams too. This new year, 64% of marketing decision-makers are urgently prioritizing recruiting and developing better talent.2 Operating downwind of constantly changing industry can lead to a skillset deficit if leaders aren’t nurturing their existing talent. Leaders who create the opportunity for teams to adapt and grow will succeed.

The relationship challenge
2017 will be the year of the ‘relationship-based disruptor’. Emerging brands that focus on relationship-first business models over best-in-class product will pose a serious threat to established companies who haven’t made the relationship leap. Unilever recently paid $1 billion for Dollar Shave Club, not because its razors were superior but for access to its customer database.3 The acquisition shows that an individual who is open and willing to continue a long-term relationship with your brand is worth far more in today’s climate than access to a superior product.

Brands should be making such individuals the ultimate goal of every marketing function, and social media should be champions as a core player in achieving this goal. Bring social into the limelight of the organization. Insights mined from social channels are key to enabling more effective relationship management because they offer real-time visibility into how your customers are moving through their journey, and what they want.

Marketing leaders should be empowering the brand to align with an individual’s emotional state at every touchpoint, and this includes enabling team members on the front lines to take the right action. This new year will bring increased pressure for brands to deliver on their promises – instead of just talking about it.

The operational challenge
An effective operational setup will be necessary to succeed in 2017. With data-privacy and ad blocking posing a threat to how marketers traditionally connect with their target audience, brands will need a better understanding of how to deliver meaningful experiences to the modern customer journey.

This new year won’t be kind to brands who can’t sustain a solid one-to-moment communications approach. Customers will only stop and focus their attention on a brand if the interaction triggers a genuine emotional connection. And they expect this regardless of how many times they’ve interacted in the past and irrespective of the channel.

Brands can’t reserve personal interactions for owned channels (for example cookie-based content optimization, email, or your own social media channel). Truly personal, meaningful interactions should be happening wherever an individual happens to be at an important moment. And this moment of interaction will most likely take place in the public sphere, nowhere near your website or Facebook page.

To implement this level of personalized marketing at scale, marketing leaders need to be investing in the right operational setup, and that includes a tech stack that supports the modern-day fragmented customer journey. Shying away from investing here is not an option in 2017.

marketing strategy

Unified platforms are leading the way here, with names like Falcon.io drawing a connection between adtech, digital marketing and social media management, there’ll be increased focus on roles like the social media manager to deliver to the modern customer journey.

123 Forrester, ‘Predictions 2017: The Post-Digital CMO Appears’, October, 2016

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