6 priorities for leading your marketing in a volatile environment

We’re living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA*) and that is unlikely to change. In fact, the only constant IS change. Apologies if you’ve come to this blog hoping for some answers, futurology, predictions or economic forecasts. No one has a crystal ball, but we can offer some insights into how to shift your marketing approach to enable you the agility required to keep up:

#1 Operate at two speeds

Rather than ripping up your long-term plans or stopping 3-5 year marketing strategies in favour of responding to the here and now, quite the opposite is important. Be clear on the long-term direction for your brand and organisation and reflect on it at the end of every quarter to track your progress, whilst also operating at speed in quarterly sprints. Set quarterly marketing objectives that enable you to make clear, fast progress to outperform competitors, respond to immediate opportunities and focus on more tactical activity. What’s critical about these quarterly sprints is that if you’re going in the wrong direction you’re likely to only do it for a quarter before you adjust and re-prioritise, and you can make decent progress instead of spending too much time planning for something a long way off while a competitor may get there quicker than you.

#2 Listen to your customers more than ever

There’s nothing moving faster than your customers buying behaviour so don’t overlook the value of customer insights. Turn your data into knowledge and your knowledge into wisdom. If you haven’t got customer insights and research at the core of your marketing strategy, you’re likely to be heading for a fall with misguided activity and wasted budgets.

#3 Actions speak louder than words

Be careful not to get planning paralysis, the days of having the luxury of time are over, if you’ve got a new innovation that will set you apart from your competitors don’t over analyse it at the expense of missing out on the opportunity. Be bold and get it into testing / trial / minimum viable product and let your customers tell you if it’s a winner or not!

#4 Look broader than your expected competitors

Competitor analysis is as important as ever in a dog eat dog world, but whilst you’re keeping on top of what your direct competitors are doing, don’t overlook the bigger picture. Keep Porter’s Five Forces in mind to make sure you’re spotting where other competitors could be coming from.

#5 Organise yourself in an agile way

From your office space to the way you set up your team, think how best to build in flexibility. There are so many ways to be more agile now, so make sure you’re not a victim to traditional ways of doing things. From co-working to enable you to scale your office space up and down at the drop of a hat, to blending resources in-house and externally so you get the skills and capacity you need when you need them.

#6 Keep an external perspective

It’s very easy to lose sight of the wood for the trees, so building up a network of external guidance to keep you on track can bring huge insights. Whether it’s your agencies, mentors/coaches or other marketers, keep listening to alternative perspectives so you’re always taking a balanced view.

If you need some help pressing reset, want to look at more flexible ways of working or need an external perspective, talk to us about our Blended Teams™ approach, co-working spaces or contact me to book a session with one of our strategists.

*VUCA was first coined as an acronym in 1987 by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus and is being used to refer to the general conditions businesses are operating under.