4 Challenges in 2021 that Global Marketers Must Solve


Mirko Holzer, CEO of BrandMaker began his recent Forbes article with a sobering observation, One critical lesson we learned in 2020 is that it’s impossible to know what is coming next.”

Certainly, he’s right. We do not have a crystal ball, but we do have BrandMaker Pulse, our global qualitative study into the key issues affecting international marketing organizations.

Our latest Pulse research study was focused on the 2021 priorities of global marketers. The findings represent the experiences and expectations of marketing leaders from global marketing organizations of companies with revenues over $1 billion.

#1: Marketing operations must become significantly more efficient

There are 2 opposing trends that marketing leaders must reconcile:

  • Management’s increasing focus on ROI. 60% of respondents report management’s demand for quantifiable ROI on marketing budgets.
  • Budget cuts. 50% of marketing organizations expect the same or less budget than 2020. (Only 5% expect an increase in their 2021 budget.)

Global marketers understand the urgency of taking action to resolve this dichotomy and see marketing operations as the most important and most productive lever to pull. In fact, 75 % of respondents said they plan to increase investment in marketing operations for improved workflow and integration.

#2: The maturity of  marketing operations must evolve

A quarter (25%) of respondents do not believe that their operations, as currently configured, can meet the efficiency challenges of 2021. They give their marketing operations a failing grade pointing to:

  • An over-dependence on spreadsheets;
  • Poor collaboration and workflow tools;
  • Difficulty accessing and sharing content, budget, or project status.

Just 10% of respondents gave their marketing maturity an A, where they have easy integration with CRM and ERP functions, enjoy real-time visibility and control of budgets, people, and marketing assets.

Mirko clarifies,

Our Pulse results indicate that marketing operational efficiency remains the cornerstone for marketing teams to provide high-quality customer experiences.

It also highlights that marketing operations systems will be central to freeing marketers from low-value, labor-intensive work, and enabling them to embrace agility to meet the new realities of 2021.

The pandemic has forced companies to become more agile, and CMOs now have an opportunity to double-down on this agility to meet the demands of 2021.

#3: The focus must be on workflow management and collaboration  

To achieve the gains in efficiency, marketing organizations must first seek improved workflow management and collaboration. For too long marketing operations have been hindered by cumbersome manual processes, lack of visibility across the organization, and multiple versions of the truth. These shortcomings came back to haunt organizations during the Covid crisis. 65% of respondents say that automation of repetitive marketing tasks is long overdue.

Some of the immediate improvements marketing leaders are looking to effect:

  • 65% of global marketing organizations need faster reviews and approvals, and real-time status across in-house teams and external agencies.
  • 45% look forward to the freedom from recurring “spreadsheet madness”.

#4: WFH is not going away anytime soon

Increasing the maturity of marketing operations must be done hand-in-hand with the reality that working from home will be the norm for some time to come.

Global marketing leaders believe that the workplace will migrate to a hybrid of home and office as the risk of infection abates. 65% of executives say that they want to continue working from home but that they will come to the office for team meetings and workshops because they place a high value on face-to-face collaboration.

It is notable that not a single leader responded that they want to return to the office full-time.

Marketing operations efficiency equals marketing agility    

A final thought from Mirko that sums it all up:

The pandemic has forced companies to become more agile, and CMOs will have an opportunity to capitalize on this agility to meet the demands of 2021. Those who do will gain fast access to sales and marketing data and analysis, will be quick to enhance their marketing operations, and be far better positioned to survive and thrive in the coming year.

Please access the full report is available here.

Take on these challenges and make them your strengths. We are here to take this journey together with you!

Dunja Riehemann By Dunja Riehemann

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