“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” – Henry Ford
The world has changed, and it has changed permanently. Everything from the way that people live to the way they engage and consume has become digital first. People expect things quicker and faster than ever before.
Marketers are no longer simply driving brand awareness and clicks — they’re now being tasked with driving conversions, growth, and ROI as well, all while doing it faster than ever.
The problem isn’t necessarily that they have new demands to accommodate, it’s that companies haven’t increased their marketing budget or given them the resources they need to meet them.
According to Gartner, even though marketing budgets are increasing this year, they still lag behind pre-pandemic spending levels and face further cuts as companies attempt to plan for impending financial downturn. When the world around you has changed so dramatically, you can’t continue to do the same thing and expect different results.
The Reactive Approach
Facing pressure to perform, marketing teams are forced to play firefighter.
With increased expectations and the same (or less) budget to work with, they turn to what they know how to do: run reactive campaigns and cross their fingers they’ll have something good to report before the next meeting.
The obvious issue here is that you’re treading water, doing what you’ve always done. You’re scared and reacting instead of setting your sights on sustainable growth and leading the way.
Now is not the time to dig your heels into your normal routine. The adage, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” no longer applies. It is broken, and it needs to be fixed.
Your customers’ expectations are different now than they were before, and if you want to continue to succeed, you need to evolve at the same pace, meeting them where they are.
Even if you think you already have a solid strategy — it’s important to take a step back and reassess how the buying landscape has changed, or risk the consequences of failing to innovate.
What Are the Consequences of This Approach?
We all know the saying, you have to spend money to make money. But is it true? Many organizations believe it is better to hold on to what you currently have and keep your head above water rather than take a chance to invest in something new and grow.
This flawed logic leads them to believe that if they’re not adding to their marketing budget, they are making the “smarter” decision during times of financial uncertainty. Sales revenue gets reinvested elsewhere or simply added to the bank, rather than funneled back into marketing.
They only think of short-term, immediate results. What they don’t consider is what they might lose by NOT continuing to invest going forward and beyond.
There’s a cost to inaction, and it’s much higher than most realize.
“The people that embrace the change in customer expectations and evolve with them will succeed, while the people who stick with tried-and-true methodologies are going to get left behind.”
-Jessica Jones, Chief Growth Officer, ANNUITAS
The Hidden Costs of Inaction
Without reinvesting into marketing, companies fall further and further behind and risk being unable to overcome future shifts in the market.
For many businesses, the “tried and true” is a comfortable place to be. It’s safe, it’s familiar, and it’s easy. But what happens when “tried and true” no longer meets the acceptable standard and your organization starts to see the consequences?
Marketing professionals who are willing to experiment with new approaches will be better prepared when change comes knocking on their door.
Without continuous investment in your sales and marketing efforts, your business risks:
1. Being left behind: the world of business is changing rapidly, and if you don’t keep up, you might find yourself with strategies that no longer work and technology that no longer supports your needs.
2. Losing business to your competitors who are more customer-centric.
3. Wasting the already limited marketing budget you currently have and becoming caught in the cycle of tactical campaigns and random acts of marketing.
4. Losing trust of customers who expect more from companies today than they did in previous years.
How to Move Forward
The problem with the traditional, tactical approach to marketing is that it’s slow and inefficient, and doesn’t allow you the ability to progress forward with the demands of your customers.
An episodic approach that is always reactive rather than proactive will only keep you stuck in a loop of struggling to stay afloat.
The solution is to create a consistent, perpetual demand engine to keep up with changing customer expectations. Marketing and Sales needs to be equipped with a self-sustaining perpetual demand engine to help them understand their customer’s pain points and challenges so they are able to deliver the most appropriate “next step”.
A proactive approach to marketing is about taking the initiative to solve your customers’ problems before they even know they have one. This way, you’re not only more likely to close more deals but also create a better experience for your customers.
Here are 3 ways you can be proactive (instead of reactive) in your marketing:
1. Use automation to create personalized campaigns based on real-time data instead of relying on historical data alone
2. Shift from an inside-out, product/solution-led approach to a buyer-centric customer strategy
3. Use predictive analytics to keep track of customer engagement so that you can predict future needs
Meet Customer Demands With Modern Marketing
The best marketing strategies are built around a set of insights, and the best insights are the result of understanding what people want and how they want it.
Marketing has always been about meeting customer demands, but today’s customers expect better service, more convenience, and greater personalization from brands. As a result, businesses need to do more than just meet those demands — they need to exceed them at every turn.
That’s why modern marketing is all about delivering experiences that delight your customers and show them you care about them as people, not just as customers.
Here are some tips for building a modern marketing strategy:
1. Rethink your relationship with buyers – They want to be treated like humans you want to help, rather than strangers you want to sell to.
2. Pay attention to how they prefer to engage with businesses – It might not be through email or phone calls. It might be through social media, live chat, or community forums.
3. Build a flexible model of engagement – Don’t force yourself on your buyers — let them choose when, and how, they engage with your business. Be prepared for anything and know they’ll come around when they’re ready.
Make the Move to Strategic Demand Marketing
The process of moving from reactive, stagnant marketing techniques to strategic demand marketing is a three-step process:
1. Build the buying process foundation
The first step is to build a foundation for the buying process by understanding who your customers are, what they want, and how they buy.
This step involves going through each stage of the buying process and mapping out all of the touch points along each stage, including their behaviors and motivations.
You can then identify where there are gaps in information or where you’re missing opportunities to engage with people at every stage of their journey.
You can also use this time to build out personas and customer profiles that will help guide your next steps as you start integrating demand generation into your strategy.
2. Implement Demand Process
The second step is to implement a demand generation process that brings together all of your channels and tactics so that you’re able to create consistent messaging across all touch points in the buyer’s journey — from awareness through purchase.
This will enable you to tailor content and calls to action based on their stage in their journey, which allows you to be more relevant and provide better value at every stage of their decision-making process.
3. Create a Perpetual Demand Generation Program
The third step of Strategic Demand Marketing is creating a Perpetual Demand Generation Program Model. This model is based on the fact that there is no such thing as a one-and-done initiative.
Many of the best demand generation programs are designed to be perpetual and should be continually evolving over time.
The idea behind this model is to create a sustainable system that will work for your business regardless of what’s happening in the market.
One reason why you want a perpetual demand generation program is that it allows you to stay top-of-mind without having to reinvent yourself every time something changes in the marketplace. It also ensures that you’re always generating new leads and converting them into customers.
The tactical and reactive approach to marketing may seem like it’s your safest option. In uncertain times, it may feel like the most business-conscious move to save your already struggling budget and not take a risk on growth.
The truth is, taking a conservative approach does not help your future position. Your organization will only continue to see this cycle play out until it is broken. This is the cost of doing nothing.
In the modern world of marketing, playing defense is no longer an option. If you want to keep up with your audience and competitors, you need to be on offense—and that means knowing what’s coming next.
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