CMOs to play it ‘safe’ by targeting existing customers

business2Nearly three-quarters (73%) of senior marketers have said they will be targeting existing customers in an effort to fuel growth this year, with two-fifths (39%) planning to boost sales of existing products, and a third (34%) introducing new products to them rather than attempt to acquire new customers.

So says the inaugural Gartner CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2021 of 381 marketers, conducted between September and October, which quizzed CMOs on 11 marketing strategies, asking which they would be reinvent, retain or retire in the post-pandemic world.

Over half of the respondents said they intended to reinvent six of the 11 strategies, while nearly a third (31.8%) said they would go even further and reinvent eight of the 11 strategies.

But Gartner Marketing vice president analyst Augie Ray insisted that CMOs cannot reinvent and rescale everything while still executing effectively and remaining agile in a year that promises more challenges.

He added: “Those who attempt to reinvent too much simultaneously risk failing to do any one thing right while overburdening their teams. CMOs must try to avoid reinventing the wheel in 2021 and remember: For every strategy you rescale, you must choose another to reduce or retire. For every strategy you try to reinvent, another must return to pre-pandemic levels and approach.”

Even so, received wisdom has it that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one, so you would think the report’s authors would welcome this approach.

However, Gartner said: “Focusing on existing customers has a number of benefits for CMOs, namely being low cost and low risk. But low risk is matched by relatively low return.”

The report’s findings do perhaps explain why data and analytics chiefs are coming under increasing pressure from company bosses to prove their worth.

Last week, a separate Gartner report detailed that CDOs are under the cosh to show that the huge investments they have made in developing data-driven strategies will give them the edge in emerging stronger from the Covid-19 crisis and drive long-term business value.

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