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It’s time to challenge “switch off, switch on” corporate thinking.

June 02, 2023

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A proliferation of data has become the CMO’s greatest enemy, reinforcing short-termism in corporate behavior. Aligning tactical measures with the drivers of growth from “brand-to-demand” can shift the C-level conversation to the long-term strategic role of marketing in corporate performance.

As economic headwinds are starting to blow and forensic analysis on return on investment becomes the corporate focus, how well do you defend your marketing budget, or are you at the mercy of the unwanted phone call which says you need to make cuts and focus only on short-term demand?

There’s plenty of research proving that on a good day, as few as 5% of B2B buyers are actively seeking to purchase. And as the economic belt is tightening, I’ve seen evidence that this figure has dropped to as low as 1% of buyers being active in some sectors. The only chance most marketing teams have of converting this small pool of buyers to revenue is to divert all their budget away from “top of funnel” to solely fund demand level activity.

Slowly, but surely, the 99% of buyers currently inactive will gradually disengage with their brand, and the top of the funnel will run dry… but of course, as soon as economic recovery emerges, marketing will be expected to flick the demand switch to “on” to outperform the competition for growth.

And we all know the problem with that!

The problem facing many marketing leaders is being able to confidently prove to the rest of the C-suite the need for an always-on approach to marketing from brand-to-demand to ensure the complete funnel is in sufficiently good health, so that when strong demand returns, activity can be rapidly ramped up.

Availability of data is certainly not the issue. In the past two years, humankind has generated more data than in the whole of the rest of history. And sometimes it feels like much of that data resides in the marketing function. There is a sea of what I call “trap door data” that marketing departments fall into, demonstrating the success of individual tactics to a granular level.

The real issue is that the data the CEO and CFO are interested in are not search performance, content engagement or even attribution modelling. They need the bigger picture – to know that every part of the marketing spend will lead to recovery and growth.

And until marketing talks and judges every part of its own performance in terms of growth drivers, it will always be subject to short-term “switch off, switch on” and quarter-to-quarter budget commitment.

Instead of focusing on tactical performance metrics, measure marketing in terms of how it’s powering the critical drivers of demand. Working with Gravity’s F.A.B. (Fame. Admiration. Belief.) marketing performance model, many of our clients have seen the benefit of measuring the inter-relationship between brand and demand activities and the transformational ROI this delivers. Becoming empowered with the data and language to challenge and shift the perception of marketing and move away from “switch off, switch on” for good. 

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