Bosses back marketing to drive Covid recovery strategy

disciplines_again2Evidence continues to mount that the marketing industry will bounce back strongly from Covid hell, with more than half (56%) of UK bosses rethinking their marketing strategies to stimulate customer spending and two-fifths (44%) planning to increase budgets to help them adapt.

That is according to a new study by LinkedIn among UK C-level executives, which shows bosses are banking on marketing to help their companies evolve in three key areas: by shifting from in-person events to virtual events (41%); adapting content, messaging and tone of marketing to reflect the economic climate (38%); and focusing on reaching new customers (30%).

The report follows two upbeat studies published last week, with M&C Saatchi-owned global growth consulting business Clear reporting marketers’ influence is growing post-Covid, thanks in no small part to their role as guardians of customer data, while the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report forecasts spend this year will reach £26.69bn – breaking the previous record of £25.37bn set in 2019.

The LinkedIn research was carried out among more than 300 UK C-level executives, including chief marketing officers (CMOs), in organisations with 1,000+ employees and an annual turnover of over £250m, nearly three-quarters.

It reveals that nearly three-quarters of chiefs (74%) believe customers now expect greater innovation from them than before the pandemic, and nearly two-thirds (65%) are focused on creating new revenue streams. And with Covid accelerating digital transformation, two-fifths (40%) of leaders say it has given them the chance to reimagine how their organisation operates in the future.

But it is not only organisation which will change; nearly three-quarters (74%) of UK marketing bosses expect their role to be different as a result of Covid. Nearly three- fifths (58%) believe they will increasingly support other functions, such as employer branding, internal communications and learning and development; over half (53%) say technology and data will play a greater part in their role; and 48% expect to have greater influence at board level.

With the pandemic requiring businesses to act with greater speed, 87% of CMOs say that it has increased the need for marketing agility. However, this could reduce focus on the long-term marketing objectives. In fact, the majority (60%) of CMOs feel since the pandemic they are now more at risk of over-prioritising agility over strategy.

Even so, there are other new factors at play. Business leaders say their approach to innovation has changed due to coronavirus, with more than three-fifths (68%0 now focusing on delivering products and services with a social or environmental purpose, and another 68% believe doing so will help them to connect with customers on a deeper level.

Furthermore, 73% acknowledge that there is now greater expectation from customers, employees and investors to take action on the big issues of the day, with over half (59%) looking to support initiatives that have a direct impact on local communities over global causes.

LinkedIn UK, Ireland & Israel head of marketing solutions Tom Pepper said: “Covid has caused severe business turbulence and CMOs have been called upon to navigate the challenges ahead and fuel the return to growth. The vast majority believe the pandemic requires increased agility, but at what cost? Undoubtedly this year has shown the need for flexible marketing plans but CMOs must balance this with staying focused on their long-term strategy and vision.

“CMOs have always required a diverse skill set but it appears they’ll be taking on even more responsibilities in 2021. Upskilling will be an important focus for CMOs this year as they look to redeploy employees and plug potential skills gaps, but the savviest will also know when to bring in extra talent.”

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