CMOs always have big plans to innovate and evolve their organizations, and in 2021, this is no exception. However, in a year that will bring continued challenges and uneven recovery, they risk trying to accomplish too much. Success hinges on setting realistic expectations and making tough choices.
Our CMO Strategic Priorities Survey 2020-2021 polled 381 marketing leaders on their challenges and objectives for the coming year. Here’s what to keep in mind when remodeling your marketing strategy for 2021:
1. Focus on the future. 73% of CMOs are focusing on their existing customers in 2021 rather than looking to develop new markets. Avoid this mistake by instead opting for a full strategic reset, including disrupting your current audience while still setting appropriate risk parameters. For example, adopt value segmentation to keep a spotlight on the most profitable existing customers. Build a balanced portfolio strategy to ensure that safer bets, such as serving existing customers and driving repeat purchases, are balanced by more transformative options.
2. Be selective. Half of CMOs expect to rescale or reinvent 6 out of 11 strategies in 2021. For every strategy you rescale, choose another to reduce or retire. For every strategy you reinvent, return another to a prepandemic level. Pick your priorities based on category, position and unique challenges and opportunities. Reinvent while still executing effectively and remaining agile.
3. Accept reality. 56% of CMOs expect budgets to grow more than 5% in 2021, and about one-quarter anticipate budget increases of more than 15%. Meet with your CFO now to set realistic budgetary expectations. Build scenarios that anticipate varying levels of cost cutting. Prioritize investment in key organizational efforts such as digital business.
4. Upgrade your skillset. Less than 40% of CMOs wish to increase their financial acumen and digital know-how. Instead, conduct an honest self-assessment of your personal skill set and where you see opportunity to strengthen areas of weakness to better support digital business initiatives. Evaluate your marketing maturity and identify gaps against your strategic priorities.
5. Take action on social issues. 95% of CMOs believe brands should take the lead in finding solutions to major societal and cultural issues. Spearhead efforts to ensure that company policies and practices reflect the ideals of target consumers, especially when it comes to diversity and equity. Take a leadership role and implement a process for monitoring and engaging with social issues.
When it comes to strategic planning, the path to tomorrow is never a straight line. Customer expectations are higher than ever. Marketers are under intense pressure to deliver positive results despite increasing competition, economic uncertainty and geopolitical upheaval.