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Time to take stock, in preparation for future growth

(Take homes from the Gartner CMO Spend 2018-2019 survey)

Having recently read the Gartner CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019, two things really jump out at me as take home messages; firstly it’s time to take stock of what you have and widely audit multiple areas of your marketing organisation and secondly the need to innovate, look to the future and stay ahead of the competition.

Getting your house in order

Whether its auditing your MarTech stack, the holistic nature of your consumer engagements or reviewing that your team is fit for purpose, many of this year’s Gartner recommendations call for businesses to review their current state of play. In the rapidly changing world of marketing, where new technologies, channels and environmental pressures are constantly changing, pausing for a minute to take stock and ensure your business is on the right trajectory is sound advice.

Starting with systems, Gartner states that on average companies are only using 61% of the capabilities available to them within their existing technology ecosystem, that’s a huge percentage of under-utilisation, which in most cases is leading to missed opportunities for process improvements and increased ROI. This is a startlingly high proportion given that 29% of 2018 marketing budgets are being invested in MarTech. Surely this raises the question that perhaps some of that money could be saved by focusing on the systems already in place and ensuring they are delivering their full potential.

Technology solutions are typically introduced into organisation to resolve a specific issue or plug a process gap; these solutions often then remain in place for a number of years without review or optimisation. With new systems being added over the years, many organisations rarely reflect on their technology footprint in order to identify how existing tech can be adapted to updated business processes or furthermore integrated to one another, to provide an improved end to end user journey.

Behind the technology sit the people that drive your business. As well as auditing your kit, Gartner also suggests auditing your people. Does your business have the right people, skill-sets and knowledge required to excel in today’s competitive market? Do these peoples and skills need to be in-house or can you better leverage partners and agencies to complement your teams? Taking time to review these questions and ensure the right people are in the right pace is fundamental to success. Whilst spend on people saw a drip in budget allocation this year (24% compared to 27% in 2017), with CMO’s favouring MarTech as the primary focus of budgets, its important to remember that without the correct people in place to run these tools, MarTech projects will often fail.

As well as having the correct talent in place, a key driver of success is accountability; ensuring appropriate team members and stakeholders are in place to drive change and own a given deliverable or objective. Perhaps that’s someone in-house to own the media strategy, in order to challenge media agencies to provide an optimised output for your spend. Alternatively, maybe there is a need for a team to own the orchestration of multi-channel delivery throughout the consumer journey, to ensure customer interactions are meaningful and consistent. Ultimately having the right team onboard to allow you to deliver your marketing strategy is key. Finally, Gartner recommends auditing your business metrics and KPI’s to ensure measurements are relevant, current and benchmarked, as a further driver to success.

In short, taking time to review and audit the current state of play is not only recommended, but essential to ensure your business has the right tools in place to excel in the marketing arena. Having the ability to adapt and update the businesses strategic direction, based on the findings of these audits will ensure you’re in the best possible position to grow and innovate moving forward.

Time to Shine

So now your house is in order, it’s time to put your feet up right? Wrong! The word on every CMO’s lips this year is innovation. According to the Gartner survey a whopping 1 in 6 dollars spent in this year’s marketing budgets will go towards innovation. It seems as competition increases and brands have more and more ways to engage with customers, CMO’s are feeling the pressure to turn to innovation to stay ahead of the curve. With 16% of budgets being allocated to innovation and 63% of CMO’s expecting this number to increase next year, formulating an effective innovation strategy and approach will be a key requirement see a return on this investment.

Personalisation, AI, mobile first and influencer marketing all seem to be hot topics for brands that are looking to innovate, however as Anna Maria Virzi, principal analyst and CMO Spend Survey co-author warns “CMO’s should be mindful of the risks in this innovation arms race; you risk siphoning off precious marketing investments for poorly defined projects with a loose scope and looser success criteria.”

Whilst CMO’s are willing to put their wallets on the line in the name of innovation, many do acknowledge that their experience and expertise in this area is lacking. Gartner reports that ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, marketing leaders surveyed in the Gartner Marketing Maturity Assessment, scored themselves an average of 2.2 for their innovation maturity.’

So how do brands make this investment work?

In my eyes, the key to success is the appropriate preparation in the same three pillars we suggest you audit; technology, people and metrics. The ability to embrace new technologies to provide you with the correct tools to achieve your innovation goals. As Gartner recommends, appoint an innovation leader; someone who can own and define a strategic innovation roadmap, including clear objectives, deliverables and measurements of success. Finally devise a clear set of metrics from the outset, allowing you to evidence progress and prove ROI, to ensure that innovation investment is secured for next year’s budget.