Discussions with the chief executive, chief marketing and chief communication officers we serve are increasingly focused on how to best deliver on their purpose-driven business growth strategies during less certain economic times.
The upside is it can be done. The downside is it can not be done without a plan, alignment and collaboration, particularly when revenue projections slow down and capital preservation or other fiscal imperatives take precedence.
Alignment, Alignment, Alignment
The first step in getting plans in place is to align the core teams responsible for driving your growth at the plan development stage. That means once fiscal targets are agreed upon, getting your sales, marketing and comms and product teams into a room to go over what you’ll be pursuing together and what everyone’s role will be in driving the company’s success against those metrics. Doing so allows your organization to really understand what core audiences you are addressing together and how those audiences will convert into new business for your organization.
Of course, new business does not always need to come from new clients. As many of our clients are realizing, much of their business in 2023 and beyond will derive from growing relationships with key anchor clients that they’ve served well for years and will expand over time. Others are making moves into ripe, under-penetrated verticals that really need their help, as well as doing more business overseas. What’s right for any given client varies. But, by in large, right now has been a period of deep introspection and smart planning. The bright side is that work will pay off in 2023 because solid plans are the foundation of solid performance.
The Power of Collaboration
The reason collaboration is so key right now is that despite the power of solid plans, if teams misalign during execution, even the strongest plan will falter and, now, is not a time for slipping on the ice. On that front, we’ve been collaborating with many of our clients to help them develop and roll out integrated sales, marketing and communications plans for 2023. These plans ensure accountability and camaraderie, which is important when market forces are strong and unpredictable.
What the New Plan for 2023 Looks Like
So, once a team is aligned and a plan is in place, what does it look like and how do you use it to inform decisions? The truth is, no two plans look alike and they shouldn’t. But, there are some common themes we are noticing across integrated plans we’ve helped our clients put in place.
Themes we’re seeing:
Most plans are multi-pronged with a “high-low” spending plan against them, to be determined by performance against their financial targets.
In other words, clients have variable plans that will release more capital to fund them if numbers are made. The plan spending categories all ladder up to the same common targets too. I like rhythm and rhyme. So, plans like this make me happy because they create humming, well-oiled teams, incentivized to go after the same goals but not overspend in doing so.
Paid event spending is under critical review.
In 2022, we saw client enthusiasm and spend against paid events greatly increase as many sales and marketing teams felt that in-person networking and travel were more important than ever. It was seen as a needed relief from Zoom fatigue, a problem that had resulted in webinars and virtual event attendance declines. Initially, as live attendance numbers looked very strong and in some cases, two challenges surfaced. First, the cost of paid events skyrocketed.
Coupled with the fact that producers were unwilling to discount, these events became substantial investments and were high visibility. Second, senior decision-makers often “bounced” after appearing at events or didn’t attend at all due to the pandemic and other travel-related concerns. Right now, clients are planning to spend on paid events but they want much more custom, private and serious opportunities versus large, splashy, cashy ones!
Based on where clients are in planning, with a few rare exceptions, we believe smaller, private roundtables and other education-based events will become popular. Even at Cannes, again, with the rare exception of iHeartMedia’s fabulous high-draw sellouts, we are seeing much more private dinner and golfing activity versus big-spend options.
Comms and Marketing are Most Celebrated for their Roles in Reaching the Right Audiences.
Again, like paid spending, communications and marketing are being recognized most for their ability to reach the “right people” versus as many as possible. Across clients, this is leading to super-smart and high ROI work because it has intentionally led to great discussions with chief executive teams about what integrated plays can be made to drive growth. I love times like this because it’s when you see well-planned but sometimes scrappy moves deliver great returns.
Some of my favorite playbooks related to qualified target lists and competitive conquests as well as moves that help clients “steal the mic” when a big topic is almost certain to bubble. BRIDGE, the first independent DEI trade organization to serve the global marketing industry, has done this well on several occasions. As a result, despite its organizational infancy, BRIDGE has already appeared and been cited across dozens of its tier-one business, advertising and DEI publications. As a matter of more growth-driving fact, its board size has also doubled to include a roster like no other, composed of top CMOs and heads of HR and DEI from today’s top agencies, brands and publishers. A duality like that is exactly the type that our clients count on us to help drive.
While reporting back to clients on success is always important, it’s especially important now because they are running faster and need the data we and their other key teams are generating so they can win. Purpose Worldwide was born as a purpose and accountable growth engine for clients. So, we take this very seriously and deliver a wide array of reporting, ranging from real-time competitive and share-of-voice reporting to much deeper quarterly and annual reporting. What we invariably find is that we (clients/purpose) are able to zone in on a few key metrics that always seem to be the most important for any given client. These days the relationship between content reach, marketing qualified leads and sales-qualified leads is a view we are helping many clients examine and take action on.
As you dive in for a fantastic 2023, we look forward to diving into these discussions and so much more with you!