Marketing as a business function is changing. The industry dynamics and responsibilities of marketing professionals are expanding and with the pending separation from the EU, business priorities are shifting. Based on the findings of two research campaigns, The CIM recently published a report on ‘The challenges & opportunities facing marketers in 2017’ in which Brexit was identified as the main area of concern for 55% of marketers and Chris Daly, CEO for CIM attributes this to the overall uncertainty of the situation.
In times of uncertainty, however, opportunities arise. One such opportunity identified in the report is the concept of ‘Brand Britain’. Embracing Britain as a label of professionalism and ethical practice to support marketing functions and promote organisations as having above board standards in their operations. This stems from the fact that the fight to retain loyal customers is increasing and there is potential for a significant shift in the dynamics of all businesses within the UK. As such, these values should be adopted by all brands, as competition with the EU market rises, consumer perceptions have never been more important.
Customer-centric business models
Increased access to company information has resulted in customers who are more informed than ever and they are very happy to publicly voice their disdain towards any companies they believe aren’t operating ethically or outside of the best interest of consumers. It was revealed in CIM’s report that 87% of marketers believe there is more pressure for brands to act ethically and provide a role model for society. The impact large organisations have on society is huge and the operational decisions made by business leaders can have devastating effects on the reputation of a brand if they are viewed as unethical in any way.
There is no quick fix for negative consumer perceptions which is why building and maintaining customer trust is key. Actively ensuring business decisions are ethical and giving back to communities through CSR activities or pro bono services can help to develop loyal, repeat customers in highly competitive markets. Ultimately ensuring high retention rates of customers should be a priority for all businesses and even more so in the face of an unprecedented economic environment.
Consumer experiences should be the focal point for all businesses across the UK and marketing leaders are the key to ensuring the entire organisation remains connected to their thoughts and opinions on both the brand and wider views of the industry as a whole. With direct communication and a deep understanding of consumers’ interaction with the business, marketing teams are best placed to give advice on and actively improve customers’ perceptions of the brand.
Marketing leaders in this evolving market are presented with a significant challenge but also a huge opportunity to shine. With businesses shifting focus to their customers, marketing will be at the forefront of driving change in all areas of the business, enabling marketing leaders to demonstrate the positive influence marketing has on the overall profitability of the business.
Not only do marketing professionals have the skills and knowledge to identify the customer needs and best meet their expectations, they also have the skills and expertise to best analyse any captured data regarding these customers. With the ability to interpret, analyse and assess this information and the deeper understanding of the customer base, marketing leaders should have a significant input into the strategic decisions of the entire organisation.
Marketing skills gaps
With this shift towards a more customer-focused business model and the responsibility of marketing professionals increasing, ensuring that the right professionals are hired to develop a dynamic and diverse team is crucial.
Marketing roles are becoming increasingly specialised and from the survey CIM conducted as part of their research campaign, 9/10 marketing leaders felt that they were missing broader business skills within their teams. Considering the benefit of marketing leaders influencing strategic business decisions, it is important that the wider team is given regular training to develop core skills, to better prepare them for future challenges. While this was identified by 30% of marketers as a key focus, from the report only 14% of marketers are currently focusing on upskilling their existing staff.
The challenge in recruiting professionals with these skills is that with the demands on marketing teams increasing, the expectations of marketing professionals are too. Considering the current skills gap highlighted in the report and the increasing need for talented specialists, organisations looking to hire will need to step up in their efforts to attract and retain top candidates. This means developing a clear career progression plan as well as offering continued training and development. Not only will this ensure the gap is closed within existing teams, but training and development is often a key determining factor for professionals comparing job opportunities. On top of this, it could be expected that these marketing specialists with wider business experience will demand higher salaries. So in order to stand out as an employer of choice, offering a competitive salary and benefits packages is essential. Multiple and counter-offers will be on the rise, so it is important to differentiate from other organisations by demonstrating the advantages of joining your business.
The marketing industry is evolving and its importance within businesses is at an all-time high, having the right people on your team is vital. If you would like to discuss any of these topics or to explore how we can help with your recruitment needs, please get in touch today.