Last updated on June 16th, 2023 at 12:05 pm
It’s safe to say 2023 isn’t shaping up to be exactly as marketers had hoped. Although the world continues its slow march to normal, we’re now confronting inflation, concerns about a recession (which still has yet to arrive), and some of the biggest names in technology conducting multiple rounds of layoffs. Never before has B2B marketing flexibility been more important.
Of course, this stormy weather cascades to affect B2B marketers as well. The B2B world was already undergoing significant changes due to automation, a proliferation of martech vendors, and changes to privacy and personalization. And now, economic uncertainty is coming for budgets just as it has in the past. Unsurprisingly, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has noted a correlation between negative economic conditions and marketing budgets. In other words, the marketing budget is among the first to get cut when trouble happens.
Since CMOs are often the first to lose budget when their companies are retrenching, this moment in time presents a unique opportunity to change from within. For those CMOs looking to heed the call for change, here are five ways to stay afloat and even excel during these challenging times.
The old adage “never let a crisis go to waste” applies here. Instead of waiting for change to come to you, run to it. CMOs can get ahead of the curve by embracing and undertaking organizational changes themselves. We will discuss some of the ways they can create change that not only reduces the costs of services but improves their marketing not only for today’s challenging conditions but for the future as well. In short, embrace proactive organizational change before it comes from the CEO or CFO.
Address your current tech deficiency
Though it may pain many marketing leaders to admit it, waste proliferates in the tech stack. If you’ve tracked the rise of marketing technology through Scott Brinkers’ martech map, you appreciate how many advertising and marketing technologies have proliferated in recent years, all clamoring for the attention and spend of B2B leaders. As such, companies have either purchased a range of platforms or best-of-breed tools to manage their marketing automation, email marketing, ABM, social media, analytics, and others. But is that technology being used and used correctly?
Too often, companies recruit employees that are excellent hires but don’t know how to use the technology they’ve already purchased. Uncertain economic times are no breeding grounds for waste. So how do companies address that they’re underutilizing most or all of their marketing technology?
The solution is simple: prioritize finding experts who can enable full use of these high-powered systems. The best part is you don’t need to find someone who can do everything. Leveraging the global talent market, you can find experts to manage individual components and spend less than you would on one senior general marketer. Most importantly, don’t throw out what works; you just need to use it!
Reject the “do more with less” problem
In nearly every downturn, CMOs are caught between a rock and a hard place, where they need to maintain their goals while having their budgets slashed. The ad budget is often the first to go because it avoids the demoralizing act of reducing headcount and is often easy to do, especially if you’re not locked into committed spending. But that is often a mistake. You cannot expect sales to increase (or, at a minimum, keep the marketing contribution to sales flat) if you’re not in the market reaching people. There’s a better option: rip up your existing playbook and do something differently. I give two specific ways to do this below.
Move from generalists to specialists
Most organizations, including the marketing landscape, function in spaces too dynamic for a team of generalists to excel. The unfortunate reality is that too many companies do not have the resources to upskill or even acquire the people who know what they need to teach. By outsourcing, organizations can find specialists for their specific needs and use exactly how much of their time they need. There is a robust off-shore talent pool of experts for every type of marketing technology, channel, platform, and industry that are necessary to maximize your B2B marketing flexibility.
Embrace marketing-as-a-service (MaaS)
Like other as-a-service’s, you treat marketing as a subscription from which you can pull exactly what you need. You can tap into fully trained and ready talent, tools and strategies, and marketing copy, all with minimal full-time employee commitments. Focus your core team – which is more likely than not to be smaller than it previously was – on big-picture priorities and managing the range of experts you can tap into, thanks to MaaS.
The next few months will continue to challenge even the most steady organization. But there are ways to thrive for the next few months and beyond. Leaning into specialization through off-shore talent and marketing as a service can help tap into flexible capacity as you need it.
Most importantly, organizations can avoid the overhiring treadmill that has repeated itself multiple times over the past decade. A 3rd party model enables a core internal team that can ramp up and ramp down as needed with best-of-breed talent from across the globe, the ultimate in B2B marketing flexibility.
By Domenic Colasante, CEO, 2X