Every business function has been disrupted by the impact of the pandemic, but marketing has been hit especially hard. While juggling work from home (WFH), budget cuts, and, in many cases, staffing cuts, marketers are scrambling to find new strategies, tools and talents to help them realign with a vastly different marketplace. This post originally appeared on CMSWire.
During uncertain times, marketing can't survive unless it can pivot, adapt and iterate at high speed: these five resiliency-building activities can help you strengthen those vital capabilities and build a strong foundation for the organization to adapt and grow under any circumstances.
1. Map Your Martech Stack
When the pandemic wiped in-person events off the calendar, marketers had to scramble to fill the gaps by turning to digital equivalents such as webinars, webcasts and virtual events. While some marketers are still scrambling to select and integrate the requisite technologies, others are already actively and successfully engaging prospects on new channels. Why did some companies ramp up so much faster? Better visibility into the martech stack is likely to have played a role.
Marketers who document the components of their stack make faster, more informed decisions because they can see the capabilities they already have and evaluate new technologies efficiently based on their potential to integrate seamlessly. Your documentation should include a map of every marketing platform in use or available to the organization and details about platform functionality, integrations (with ancillary tools, platforms and teams), data-sharing, any vendors or service partners involved in platform management, the person who "owns" the platform internally, and the end-users.
2. Create Standard Operating Procedures
Resilient marketing teams also need to capture the human processes that govern the marketing stack. In other words, what do people need to know to keep the marketing machine going?
On the surface, this kind of detailed documentation may seem like the enemy of speed and agility, but companies that take the time to build an internal knowledge base are not only better prepared for unexpected market changes but will achieve greater velocity down the line. Recording the standard operating procedures for maintaining various platforms, deploying campaigns, and generating performance reports ensures marketing continuity regardless of staff turnover or redeployment. With standard operating procedures (SOPs) on file, your team can resource new projects more flexibly and hit the ground running as new opportunities arise or new directions are set.
3. Cross-Train Your Team
Your marketing team will need to rise to new challenges and assume new roles as you explore different technologies, strategies, and tactics to meet new needs and expectations within the business and for your audience. You may find yourself fast-tracking your ABM efforts, investing in the content experience, building an app for the first time, or hosting a global virtual event. Whatever the future brings, it's guaranteed to be different than what you had planned at the outset of 2020, and it will require vastly different skills to pull it off successfully.
Invest in cross-training to help your team grow beyond their niche and prepare to tackle new initiatives. This is especially important for team members whose core capabilities have been made obsolete by the new realities (your live-event planners, for example). Giving your team time in their schedule to develop new skills is always a best practice, but it’s even more critical now, especially those in digital and technical areas.
4. Centralize Your Brand
Whether your company has plans to explore new communications channels, promote new solutions, or break into new markets in the coming months, a strong, consistent brand will form the backbone for those strategies. But that's an uphill battle when your brand is spread out across multiple regions, markets and channels, and hundreds — if not thousands — of campaigns.
When you need to change directions and spin up campaigns rapidly, your brand needs to be protected by something more robust than static style guides. An investment in more sophisticated brand tools, such as Frontify or Bynder, collect the visual elements of the brand into a single source of truth that's centralized, digitized and easily updated. Similarly, a content brand hub brings together the textual elements of the brand, including the brand voice and style, content templates, audience notes, and other materials that your content creators need to produce on-brand, on-message marketing assets.
5. Tap Into New Perspectives
Resiliency requires the ability to see an issue from every angle, which is why access to outside perspectives can be invaluable during this time. Lean on the consultants, agencies and analysts to find out what other companies are doing and what trends they are seeing. Even if it's just a second opinion on a proposed course of action, a fresh take can help you test your assumptions, integrate evolving best practices and refine your go-forward plan.
With the world in flux, marketing needs to be ready to face adversity, recover quickly and seize opportunities when they present themselves. The uncertainty most marketers are experiencing right now is unlikely to resolve in the near future, but those that take steps to build the resiliency required to face it courageously will certainly pull ahead of the pack.
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