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Brand and Demand: A New Love Language 

Amid economic uncertainties, successful CMOs say they are developing three new types of marketing fluency.

Whether the economy is heading toward a recession (or already in one), chief marketing officers know their budgets are under intense scrutiny. Our work with CMOs around the world reveals that the most successful marketing execs aren’t just defending budgets. They’re also meeting this moment with new ways of making marketing more effective, translating their efforts into terms and metrics better understood throughout the organization. They’re integrating marketing into more functions. And they’re adapting new languages to drive uncommon growth and business impact through the economic fog. 

In recent conversations with CMOs, we found some common threads on how they are having conversations with their executive teams and driving impact for their organizations. Here are three trends we expect to see more of, especially as the prospect of economic uncertainty means more scrutiny on every marketing investment.  

CMO’s Are Learning One Another’s Love Language 

Okay, it’s not the love languages from those internet quizzes. There are no acts of service, quality time or physical touch. But marketers are finding ways to balance their demand and brand marketing efforts while applying it to business outcomes. The most successful marketing organizations have turned brand and demand, often an antagonistic relationship, into the ultimate power couple.  

Prophet’s recent report shows how they’ve overcome residual antagonism. They are building novel bridges between brand, to drive awareness and build equity and demand or performance marketing, to drive immediate conversion. And in doing so, they’re tapping new growth opportunities. 

Our research finds that the most successful marketers map their brand and demand marketing objectives against shared business outcomes. They integrate planning cycles and share capabilities across brand and demand to maximize marketing budgets over the entire customer journey. They don’t pick between brand or demand. They ensure the two approaches work in concert to deliver shared outcomes. 

Integrating brand campaigns more tightly into the demand function is a good way for marketers to have their cake and eat it too. Aligning brand with demand allows marketers to demonstrate ROI to the C-Suite while also delivering against both functions. 

For those from the brand side, a different vocabulary is required, as marketing is increasingly seen as a revenue driver–not a cost center. Successful marketers are learning the language of the boardroom. They’ve got to replace words like funnels, impressions or brand value with the language of ROI. And it means using proof of impact that meets the C-suite acid test for business impact: Did it increase revenue or not? 

Saying “No” Will Become More Powerful in the Next Planning Cycle 

The current inflationary pressure means marketers have to say “no” more often.  

But rather than feeling discouraged by having to do so, many say they are learning to enjoy that little word more than they expected. It’s empowering them to mothball tactics without proven ROI. And it’s giving them more authority to demand results from their teams and channel partners. By turning thumbs down on the many small investments brands typically make just to “have a presence” or “keep an oar in,” they tell us they’re focusing on the most proven channels. They’re not abandoning the small strategic bets needed to keep their test-and-learn culture thriving, but they are becoming more disciplined about how they are funded. 

CMO’s Are Becoming Integrators Across Many Functional Areas 

Just as they are coming together to integrate their brand and demand functions to unite around a unified business objective, CMOs are emerging as integrators across different functions. That could mean working closely with human resources and developing an employee value proposition for recruiting or it means recognizing that marketing can–and should–take a leadership role in integrations to build organizational culture. 

Breaking down silos is hard work and requires an integrated marketer to lead the charge. The individual filling this role should be a more seasoned marketing professional with the ability to work cross-functionally. And they must be willing to roll up their sleeves and get into the nooks and crannies of the business, immersing themselves in the customer journey in new and different ways. Marketing leaders should be looking to build proactive connections with their colleagues across human resources, product, sales and IT to deliver cross-functional business impact. This integrator mindset will allow them to not only work in lockstep with other business units but if done well, help to uncover untapped pockets of demand.  

Integrating multiple brands and teams requires a cross-functional marketing technology stack, of course. But genuine integration requires a deeper commitment. Many companies have charged people throughout the marketing organization with specific responsibilities to make sure plans are holistic and well-integrated. Others rely on integrative processes, constantly organizing new pods and tiger teams to solve challenges. 

Putting Your New Love Language Into Practice 

For many, the annual planning season is either underway or right around the corner. This is a great reminder to be mindful and refine the language you are using as a marketing leader.  In a recent blog, we wrote about how to modernize the marketing planning cycle. Some questions to consider as you reimagine your approach to your annual marketing plans:   

  • What are the business objectives for your next planning cycle?  
  • Is it clear how marketing directly contributes to those objectives?  
  • Does your organization have an aligned taxonomy around objectives and activities?  
  • How are you measuring success for brand and marketing initiatives investments?  
  • Are those metrics understood across brand and demand teams? Or are those metrics creating siloes between them?  
  • Are those metrics enabling marketing to have a “seat at the table”? Or are those metrics creating distance with other executives/board? 

Download this worksheet to begin mapping your plan to business outcomes. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

To navigate economic challenges, CMOs are using their voices differently. They’re learning to speak a common marketing language. They are saying `no’ more often, with profound growth implications. And they are focusing on a new kind of organizational fluency, integrating marketing throughout multiple functions. Doing so allows them to play a proactive role in figuring out new audiences, leading to rich areas of growth. 

Ready to put your new love language into practice? Contact our team today.

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