What's keeping marketers up at night

I recently attended a three day retreat for CMOs and agency folk, with a packed diary of workshops, roundtables and meetings. These events are an absolute gold mine if like me, you want to know what it is actually keeping these guys up at night. So, following three days of speed dating and late night boozing these are the five most common themes that came up.

Transformation Strategy - It's all about the execution.

Even amongst the most senior marketing folk, driving change within an organisation with its many moving parts is proving incredibly challenging and stressful. It seems that even for CMOs change can not be simply mandated but requires support from stakeholders across the business. Agencies and consultancies who are not aware of these ‘real-life business challenges' and do not concern themselves with executing strategy are a huge frustration. Simply put – strategy without execution is worthless.

Aligning the business behind it’s vision.

Especially from CMOs who are new to a role, they are increasingly finding themselves within a business that simply does not provide services and experiences that feed all the way up to their vision. The barriers that exist between marketing and other disciplines and between online and offline make it very hard for the business to provide consistent experiences that are aligned with the brand. They talk about a gulf that exists between the senior business leaders and those on the ground who are in direct contact with their customers.

Digital disruption.

There is a very strong sense that the proliferation of digital is increasingly going to disrupt their market. Many senior marketing leaders are asking "what the future looks like". Those in the utilities sector for instance, are looking at how the Internet Of Things and connected devices are going to change the way they deliver their services. There is very tangible fear that tech start-ups are able to enter the market very quickly and without the legacy of these established businesses can quickly adapt and address unmet customer needs.

Customer Centricity.

How to become a more customer centric business seems to be the number one concern these marketing leaders have right now. It has become increasingly clear that a primary driver of brand loyalty and brand equity is in the service they are able to provide their customers. CMOs are looking hard at social listening tools and research methodologies to better understand their audience. There is an ambition to establish one to one customer relationships and to tailor services and communications so that they engage with customers regarding their particular needs and motivations. There is shift towards personalisation and innovation to meet this ambition and move away from traditional campaigning. 

Brand story telling in digital.

Over the last few years digital marketeers have looked towards UX and usability as a way of improving and optimising customer experiences. However, as digital becomes the primary and often the only brand touchpoint there is a need to convey the brand story as much as the function. Marketeers are asking themselves how they can convey the same experience as physical retail spaces, in a digital environment. They are looking at content, interaction design and design as away of immersing their customers in the brand and generating loyalty.