Jeannine Falcone
Global Marketing Services Lead – Song​
Jason Seegert
Managing Director – Song
July 26, 2021 • 5 min read

Rewiring marketing for performance and growth

Yes, marketing is harder than ever.
Marketers did amazing things to connect with customers when the world shut down. Against the odds. They navigated pandemic marketing with fractured organizations, partners that aren’t incented to work together and shrinking marketing budgets. Some performed better than others. But now many are left wondering why marketing has become harder than ever.

The marketing model is broken

Over the years, marketing leaders have structured their organizations to get closer to customers, move faster and maintain control. The irony is that these changes have often had the opposite effect. Marketers today work in highly-matrixed environments—most CMOs are responsible for numerous areas of marketing. What’s more, specialization among agency partners adds even more silos, blind spots and complexity.

The pandemic exposed these vulnerabilities in marketing. At a time when customers’ behaviors were shifting fast in wildly unpredictable ways, it was hard for marketers be truly customer-centric. Continually having to pull off Herculean feats in spite of a broken model—and amid pressure to drive growth—is no way to work. It isn’t effective, efficient or sustainable.

But rewiring marketing for performance and growth is no small task. Even if leaders want to realign teams and agency partners, they must do while still delivering day-to-day marketing responsibilities. After all, there’s no changing out the landing gear while the plane is in flight.
79% of consumers say the more personalization tactics a brand uses, the more loyal they are. But for 77% of consumers, businesses are not doing enough to earn that loyalty.

Studying the standouts

Where should marketers begin to change ways of working? How do they set priorities? What does the ideal marketing operating model look like? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges that marketers face today. No easy playbook to get from here to there.

However, our survey of senior marketing professionals across the world offers compelling insights into what winning brands are doing differently.

We uncovered a group of top-performing marketers who are performing strikingly better than their peers. More than half report double-digit revenue growth over the past three years, and just under half report double-digit profit growth over the same period. These marketers perform above industry average in eight of 10 non-financial performance indicators across customer experience, innovation, and technology and talent categories.

These organizations perform so well because they work in distinctly different ways across five critical areas. By studying these standouts, marketers can make bold moves to design their organizations to deliver for customers—and for the business.

5 winning ways for marketers

1. Orbit around purpose—and customers
Customers want to know what a brand stands for and ensure that its values align with theirs. With purpose so vital to customers, it is at the heart of customer-centric marketing. Top-performing marketers know this. They deliver experiences grounded in a clear and powerful brand purpose because they have intentionally organized their business around it. Everything they do—from making day-to-day decisions to designing the operating model to selecting agency partners—aligns with the brand purpose.
2. Obsess about right-brain talent
Modern marketing pairs right-brained creative discipline with left-brained planning, process and data science discipline. In striking the right balance between these disciplines, top-performing marketers have a unique emphasis. A full 70% of them have the customer experience, data insight and innovation skills in their marketing department to a great extent today. They say that creativity, innovation and originality, and communication are among their top-five most critical future skills.
3. Orchestrate humans and machines
Combining people and technology is critical to agile marketing execution. When compared to other marketing organizations, top performers are twice as likely to say they have successfully leveraged process and workflow management technology. They are also twice as likely to say they have successfully automated marketing processes. What’s more, 73% are able to ensure that automated outputs from innovative technologies do not conflict with their brand values.
4. Own a seat at the table
Their close to connection to customers should earn marketing leaders a seat at the table in driving the strategic direction of the business. Top performers excel here. The survey results reveal a significant gap in influence between top performers and other marketers in customer experience strategy (75% vs. 55%), sales strategy (74% vs. 57%) and product strategy (71% vs. 51%) among other areas. Notably, 65% of top performers say they influence and participate in the corporate strategy.
5. Overhaul spending mindsets
Top-performing marketers aren’t spending more money than their peers to be successful. However, they have a very different mindset when it comes to marketing spend. They don’t rely on historical expenditures to make spending decisions. Instead, they locate funds by current needs. In addition, they create a culture where everyone makes financial decisions with an owner mindset. Thirty percent are embedding a cost management culture in their organization, compared to just 16% of their peers.

Break free from "how things are done"

There’s an old expression that says doing the same thing over and again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Too many marketers find themselves in this position. They want to connect with customers in line with the brand purpose and drive future growth. Yet the very structure of their organization makes this more difficult than it should be. There’s no easy fix to what’s broken. That’s why it’s time to fundamentally change how marketing is done.
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