3 words that should be on every marketing leader’s mind in 2021
By Nicole Hanratty
December 5, 2020
There are three words that should be on every global marketing leader’s mind heading into 2021.
Holistic. Strategic. Data-Driven. These three marketing traits are the backbone of successful 360 marketing strategies, especially in today’s fragile global state of affairs.
Let me explain.
My penchant for analysis is rooted in both my work experience and strong academic foundation. I’m trained to review facts, look for white spaces, analyze data as well as points of different points of view, find diplomatic solutions, search for precedents, support concepts, apply reason to creative risks, look for threats to growth, and in the end, present a compelling narrative.
These skills–or marketing traits–are vital to developing a strategic marketing plan to innovate and move global brands into a new decade. I read marketing proposals like legal arguments. I see the holes, the red flags, distinguish lofty claims from facts, identify the convincing arguments, consider the opposing point of view and often discover the true offering somewhere in the middle.
This critical lens, while important, is framed by a “build on this approach”. Where did the company spend last year? Where is growth attributed to? Where are there extenuating circumstances that led to losses or gains? Are there outliers by region, SKU, or category that merit further review? What are the greatest threats to future sales? What are the foreseeable repercussions of taking on new risks? Conversely, what are the costs of not taking any risks at all? The final narrative should lead with potential but ultimately be grounded in experience.
From a bird’s eye view, one can see where small tactical changes have the potential to make a big impact. Additionally, I find, when more than one vantage point is considered, (supply chains, COGs, margins, white spaces, consumer research, PR, data analysis, community outreach, sales incentives, merchandising, market trends, employee insights, and budgets), it’s clearer where change and improvements are required.
By implementing new branding, fine-tuning marketing strategy, leveraging new channels and innovating to fill white spaces, I’ve helped companies holistically transform their companies to reach sales goals, attract acquisition offers, increase fundraising dollars, and increase brand awareness.
Over the years, I’ve developed a deep understanding of consumer behavior and the digital landscape. Some embrace the “if you spend it, they will come” mindset, writing checks assuming sales will logically follow.
I’ve seen small budgets render big ROI and large budgets render zero ROI. Not all channels and platforms are created equal.
For instance, one e-commerce company spent several thousand dollars advertising on Snapchat. The ad dollars generated a fair amount of website traffic, but little to no actual sales were attributed to the platform. Since funds were limited, I instead recommended an aggressive email campaign be built instead. In one year, the company’s sales increased by nearly 300%. They spent less and increased ROI. Even better, they grew their customer return rate, increased average cart value, and built their email database substantially.
While consulting for a law firm, I carefully tracked media spend week over week across all channels (print, OOH, TV, radio, digital). Through intricate attribution tools, I calculated revenue and plan spend to maximize returns. The data indicated which buckets were fruitful and which were at best increasing brand awareness but doing little to nothing to increase sales.
Without question, the attribution tools were costly to implement and maintain. They included answering services, call recordings, extensive landing pages, Typeforms, and teams to track calls, marking time of day, day of week, holiday spikes, clicks, emails, and sales. But ultimately they saved the company time, energy and money by clearly indicating the most fruitful channels.
These learnings were applied to the following year’s marketing plan and the company ultimately wasted less money on ineffective keywords, ads, and channels. They confidently moved forward making data-driven decisions.
What is the most important lesson I’ve learned along the way? Never underestimate the value of building a strong authentic relatable brand, down to how, when and precisely where to dot the i. Companies, leaders, products, teams and brands win when they stay true to their mission, have a consistent voice, carve out their niche, produce products that match their brand essence, engage with their customer, and consistently stay on message.
Where is the biggest opportunity I see today for established brands? Details matter. I’m never hesitant to pick up the broom and sweep away the cobwebs. It’s not always easy to dig into assumptions, question culture, or look behind the curtain. But over the years, my vast experience has shown me that big opportunities live in small, unveiled places.
What is the most important takeaway from 2020 that will lead us into the next decade? Communication requires mindfulness: mindfulness of imagery, messaging, emerging platforms, competitive landscape, political climate, hiring practices, consumer journey, community impact, environmental footprint, production, supply chains, and work environment.
What is my mission? My mission is to deliver mindful, forward-thinking marketing communication to support and build ethical brands that are responsive to their community and are fearless to pave the path for tomorrow.