Marketing for growth: Connecting campaign outcome with business performance

The test for marketers, is to eliminate inefficient spends and reinvest the saving in investments that balance the short-term growth acceleration with a long-term agenda to secure market share gains. It’s up to marketing to create a resilient impact framework that helps the business outlast the storm and set sail confidently when the headwinds calm down.

By  Sumit VirmaniMay 7, 2024 2:42 PM
Marketing for growth: Connecting campaign outcome with business performance
Sharp focus on trust, technology and talent can help marketers navigate this environment and reinforce the function’s role as a strategic partner for the business. (Representative Image: Mathieu Stern via Unsplash)

The economy continues to send us mixed signals; growth continues in modest spurts for companies that’ve adapted to the tough macroeconomic environment, while for others the prospects look relatively bleak in the near term. Universally, however, there continues to be a tightening of belts and focus on productivity that inevitably creates growing pressure on marketing budgets. In an environment of constraints, no doubt, marketing investments must be reviewed, but if optimization is driven with a shortsighted approach of near-term performance alone, it has the potential to backfire and bring unwelcome long-term business consequences. The test then, for marketers, is to eliminate inefficient spends and reinvest the saving in investments that balance the short-term growth acceleration with a long-term agenda to secure market share gains. It’s up to marketing to create a resilient impact framework that helps the business outlast the storm and set sail confidently when the headwinds calm down.

Sharp focus on trust, technology and talent can help marketers navigate this environment and reinforce the function’s role as a strategic partner for the business.

Trust: The Edelman Trust Barometer 2024 has identified businesses as being more trusted, than any other institution, to integrate innovation and constructive change into society. This is a great opportunity for brands to live up to customers’ high expectations. Articulating a stated brand purpose and staying true to it is one of the most compelling ways to clearly establish authenticity and trust. Another dimension of trust that marketing leaders can benefit from is elevating trust for the function internally – by aligning the marketing agenda more tightly to the organization’s growth aspirations, sharing goals with the business, and embracing metrics that are acknowledged as material by the organization’s leadership.

Technology: Cutting edge digital technology is all set to empower marketers with unique superpowers. Especially AI, that is beginning to deliver on its potential. Embracing it for marketing, and that too in a muted economic environment, can be a gamechanger, in terms of both innovation and business impact. Investing in building a robust data foundation along with the right technology stack can not only help marketers grab the low hanging fruit of productivity, but also hyper-personalize their outreach – a challenge that has eluded a truly gripping solution for decades. The maturing of gen AI and large language models also holds incredible promise for marketing applications. Every marketer knows that they must quickly learn how to include it as an integral part of not just their efficiency and effectiveness programs, but for true creative leaps in brand experience as well.

Talent: The disruption brought about by technology, more specifically gen AI, is potentially the biggest ever that most seasoned marketers might see in their lifetime. Success in an AI-first world will depend on human imagination – amplified by AI, and that means learning the skills of the future – significantly different from the skills we’ve nurtured so far. Our teams need to embrace a two-pronged reskilling strategy – learn how to leverage AI in their business-as-usual messaging, building campaigns or making channel choices – while simultaneously learning to sharpen their human skills – curiosity, empathy, and imagination – everything that AI cannot do. Perhaps, most important, is the ability to grow the team’s learnability – willingness to unlearn and learn – because increasingly, as technology commoditizes many functional skills, it is the ability to know what’s next that’ll make all the difference.

Yet, for many of us, being able to do it all means being able to, first, protect the function from the potential risk of diminishing investments and subsequently weakening business relevance. I’ve found that it goes a long way when you have the right metrics and language to convince the business that you are taking on the same challenge as them all – growth and market share. So, the next time you are tempted to convince the C-suite about the value of a new campaign, pitch the outcome’s correlation to business performance and profitability. Because that indeed is where the value of marketing truly accrues in the long term.

Sumit Virmani is the Global Chief Marketing Officer of Infosys. He writes a fortnightly column series 'Brand Breakthroughs’ on Storyboard18.

First Published on May 7, 2024 11:48 AM

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