• October 14, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

A Small Group of Marketers Are Thriving Despite Constant Market Disruption, Accenture Finds

Nearly 70 percent of marketing executives globally say the past year has completely exhausted their employees, according to research from Accenture.

While this comes as no surprise given the heightened levels of employee burnout cited around the world, there is a silver lining.

The report identified a small group of marketers—just 17 percent of more than 1,000 marketing executives surveyed—whose marketing organizations are thriving despite all the change, uncertainty and complexity from the past 18 months. This group—which the research identifies as thrivers—found the vast majority (86 percent) of their employees have been energized by a new purpose of servicing customers' rapidly changing motivations.

Thrivers are decluttering marketing to manage complexities, with 59 percent noting that their marketing organizations are much stronger today than last year because they've been pushed to think about marketing entirely differently. Thrivers have zeroed in on their customers' evolving motivations and what's needed to serve them in smarter, better ways. They've focused on what matters, discarded what doesn';t, and rewired the rest. As a result, they find greater meaning in their work, which is critical to serving the business and its customers and to retaining and attracting employees.

The report breaks the remaining respondents into two other groups: strivers, accounting for two-thirds (66 percent) of the executives surveyed, who have some autonomy to meet customer needs but have limited awareness of customer changes; and survivors, accounting for the remaining 17 percent, who are burnt out and not in tune with customer change.

"Marketers who have seized the pandemic as a forcing function to redefine what they do, how they do it, and the overall role of marketing in business are the ones who have become successful and are driving business growth," said Jeannine Falcone, global marketing services lead at Accenture Interactive, in a statement. "In-the-moment relevancy is critical for today's brands, and you can't do that if you're operating from the same old playbook."

The research found that thrivers are orienting their marketing organizations around three important guiding principles: aligning with their companies' purposes; helping their customers; and improving how their marketing organizations work. The research further pinpoints how thrivers are leading the way in the following five areas:

  1. Get reacquainted with your customer: Accepting that the customers they once knew have changed, Thrivers have tossed out their old beliefs about customer preferences and know that assumptions can be dangerous. They listen to customers and rewire marketing around who customers are at a moment in time and rank customer satisfaction as their top measure of success.
  2. Find your collective difference: Knowing that differentiation on customer experience takes unity and collaboration, thrivers are 60 percent more likely than survivors to report that customer input is highly critical to key business decisions on customer experience. They recognize that synching all functions, including product development, commerce, sales, service, and marketing, is necessary to unleash differentiation.
  3. Move at the pace of change:The overwhelming majority of thrivers (91 percent) believe that customer behaviors are changing faster than ever. As a result, they aim to deliver messages, content, and experiences that are relevant to customers’ real-time needs. In addition, they're nearly 50 percent more likely than survivors (95 percent vs. 65 percent) to have increased their investments to scale at speed.
  4. Figure out what no one wants to do: The marketing ecosystem has become exponentially more complex due to an explosion of touchpoints, technologies, regulatory issues, and partners. Thrivers have outwitted complexity by leaning into process automation and industrializing operations, and they are significantly more likely than survivors to invest more to improve the ways of working with ecosystem partners (91 percent vs. 56 percent). They are equally thoughtful about discarding tasks as they are about completing them, giving their marketing organizations the edge needed to succeed.
  5. Own what you want to stand for: Thrivers own their brand purpose, empathetically and authentically connecting with customers and delivering on what customers value. They are five times more likely than survivors to view the shifts in pandemic-fueled customer values as an opportunity to rethink marketing’s role and reimagine their brand purposes.

The research also found that thrivers are more than 1.4 times more likely to perform far better than survivors in revenue growth and profitability; more than 1.8 times more likely to perform far better in customer satisfaction; more than 2 times more likely to perform far better in customer lifetime value; and more than 2.5 times more likely to perform far better in customer awareness.

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