Focus on Marketing Strategy: Blog Series – Executive Insights for Q1 2021 Part 4
Focus on Marketing Strategy: Every quarter, we’ll present insights from top executives from different backgrounds and functions. To help you prepare for Q1 2021, here are marketing insights from Seth Avergon, an experienced marketing executive and member of the Cerius network.
Focus on Marketing Strategy: What do you envision as the biggest challenges companies will face in Q1 2021?
One of the biggest challenges will be understanding how the needs of their current and potential customers have changed, and how the organization can now best serve those needs. Those changes, and there will be many, will require revamping existing marketing programs, messaging and outreach techniques—both for marketing and sales, and potentially your product offering. Most organizations are not good at pivoting in such a manner, so it’s going to take discipline and a thoughtful process around customer engagement to make sure you are promoting and selling what your customers need…not what you want.
Focus on Marketing Strategy: What’s your recommend strategy for addressing these challenges?
Start with good market research. Whether formally or informally, reach out to clients to check-in and see where their needs are, and how they are evolving over time. Keep doing this periodically. Your customers are going to be facing challenges, too. Your ability to be in sync with those needs and respond accordingly will be an important way to keep your sales pipeline strong.
One-year and three-year planning is out the window for now. So, get into a habit of reviewing sales and marketing initiatives on a 30-day basis. Use A/B Test programs to see what’s working. Be brutally honest in optimizing what works and letting go of what doesn’t.
Learn to test and fail quickly. You’re going to have programs that you love that will not take hold and others that you are lukewarm on that will take off. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I’m going to test these three concepts over the next 30-60 days and I am going to learn”. Remember that a program that doesn’t work today may work in six months. Things are changing very rapidly, and they will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future.
Focus on Marketing Strategy: What are the critical skill sets companies will need to survive and thrive in Q1 2021?
Nimbleness, focus and humility. Companies will need to be nimble to meet the changes that are coming. Some changes we see are temporary; others will take hold and stay. Therefore, organizations will need to be open to these changes and have an internal culture that addresses and adapts quickly to meet them. Plan for it, and foster a team that thrives on considering multiple scenarios for growth. Logic tree planning is a great way to start. If “X” happens, we will do “Y” and so on.
Focus has always been important, but perhaps now more than ever. Your team is most likely putting in long hours and experiencing some level of fatigue. Keep your team focused on the critical initiatives for this month or quarter. Work your “Need to Have” list versus your “Nice to Have” list—or call them A, B, C priorities, if you prefer. Focus on those critical tasks and stay diligent. If you or your team are having a hard time designating what’s critical from non-critical, ask yourself whether the initiative will have an impact in the next 90 days on your sales, marketing or operational efficiency.
Humility helps you grow. We need to be comfortable being slightly uncomfortable and owning the fact that we don’t know with certainty. So, conduct your market research and develop your programs with an earnest sense of looking for truth and seeing what works. Then, manage your teams with that same humility, while balancing honesty with active listening and a positive, but realistic outlook.
Seth Avergon is the President of Avergon Marketing Group. He has over 25 years of experience in business and marketing strategy. He has held key positions at Citizen, DENSO Automotive, Rain Bird, World Tableware, and RSI Home Products. His enthusiasm, leadership and creativity have been the driving force behind dozens of successful product launches and marketing campaigns.