This time of year is full of football, back-to-school sales and boardroom conversations about how the marketing budget should take shape for the coming year.
But this annual ritual of budgeting process is broken. Yearly stabs based on internal agendas, past year’s assumptions and non-real-time intelligence is leaving many strong brands vulnerable in a new world where consumers are dictating play (not those sitting in the boardroom).
Visionary CMOs have the opportunity to lead their organizations in adapting to this increasingly dynamic and user-led world. Progressive brands are reallocating their marketing budget based on the evolving rules of engagement with consumers. The game is changing because people today seek out and spend money with brands that provide them with increased value on their terms: product efficacy, community, utility, shared interests and a deeper experience.
This budget season sharpen your pencil with these four budget tips:
1. Take cues from your consumers’ goals. Every year, every quarter, consumers are defining how to engage with brands more and more instead of the reverse. Before EOY 2012, pair audience (user) goal research with an experience audit to identify opportunities and where resources may be best spent. Brands such as ESPN.com are continually monitoring and offering new utility for fans to more deeply experience the sport or team they’re following.
2. Invest in more listening posts and be responsive. Most brands check off on the basics of listening these days: social monitoring, customer satisfaction, engagement metrics and the like. But how is your brand at being real-time responsive and effectively handling the chatter, requests and experience issues that arise? Consumer expectations are rising in this area, and progressive brands are stepping up. A recent Oracle study found that people expect a personal response to a Twitter question within two hours and a Facebook question within 24 hours.
3. As the CMO, shake hands with the CIO’s and CTO’s budget and resources. The need for brands to convert data into knowledge is getting bigger. CMOs today are thirsty for real intelligence, and a CMO-led partnership with CIOs and CTOs will be required to convert transactional and marketing data into usable information that increases a person’s experience with a brand. American Express is working hard at this and making strides.
4. Resist earmarking everything. Progressive brands are nimble, reacting quickly to an evermore dynamic marketplace. For 2013, reserve a portion of funds to proactively address “pull” opportunities as they arise. Without this financial cushion, you could miss an entrepreneurial moment because you’re over-committed to preplanned “push” marketing.
Marketing budgets continue to be stretched thin. Within this reality, think about how your brand’s budget is aligned with consumer objectives and behavior to help take chance out of 2013 being lucky or unlucky for your brand.