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The year of impactful work: Redefining priorities for marketers

By Esther Flammer, Chief Marketing Officer at Wrike  

Current economic uncertainty means that many businesses and consumers are struggling with reduced budgets. With global growth expected to slow down even more in 2023, it’s never been more important to connect with the right audiences and stand out from competitors.

At the same time, the pace of work has increased significantly, as businesses have had to quickly adapt to seismic market and economic shifts and reduced spending has been met with higher expectations. For marketing teams, the pressure to deliver is higher than ever, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be calming down any time soon. This has shed light on numerous productivity challenges that have affected the industry for decades, including the need to prioritise innovative strategies that get in front of buyers and do high-value, results-driven work that maximises ROI while still getting pulled in too many directions by work that isn’t tracked or measured.

Recent research from Wrike found that the total cost of wasted time for marketing teams is around $59 million per year, significantly higher than other departments. The average marketing professional is wasting 16 hours per week on miscellaneous work. This equates to 820 hours, or 103 working days per year. This staggeringly high figure goes to show that business leaders must find a better, more efficient way for marketing teams to work.

In order to excel in this current period of economic uncertainty, marketing teams must find a way to maximise their most precious resource – time. Only then can they boost productivity, deliver better results, and produce their most meaningful work.

Marketing and the Dark Matter of Work

Research from CERN revealed that we can only see about 5% of matter in the universe, with the other 95% flying under the radar as ‘dark matter’. This can also be said about much of the work we carry out today. Many of the activities we undertake and the interactions we have are never captured, tracked, or measured against a specific goal.

The very nature of a marketing professional’s job is exacerbating the problem. The need to constantly move at pace, producing and using reams of data alongside a never-ending list of applications can be challenging. When a task isn’t managed in one single platform it can create Dark Matter. Whether it is trying to find notes from the latest creative huddle or missed messages about editing work which were shared over email, Dark Matter is everywhere.

As marketing teams get busier –  taking on more projects per year (11 large-scale) – and with the number of messages increasing to 301 each day, this Dark Matter is beginning to have serious repercussions, and not just in terms of a lack of productivity. In fact, 80% of marketing professionals are experiencing burnout. This human cost of the Dark Matter of Work is sadly unsurprising. Many marketing teams are feeling the stress of trying to navigate broken workflows, which leads to misalignment, missed deadlines, duplicate work, and stalled projects.

Delivering impactful work

Working in synchrony is key for marketers to eliminate wasted time and tackle feelings of burnout. It’s important that every team has the ability to collaborate effectively cross-functionally and cross-departmentally, without silos and within a single source of truth. Teams also need access to tools that increase visibility into the work taking place and allow them to automate time consuming, mundane tasks like approval processes. This leaves more time and space for creative thinking and the ability to focus on delivering what really matters – brand consistency, customer experience, and maximised ROI.

At the moment, marketing leaders don’t have visibility into 45% of work taking place. In response to this, 97% of marketing professionals said a single source of truth would reduce stress for them and their colleagues. So, what’s the solution? This is where collaborative work management platforms come in.

Collaborative work management platforms ensure that individuals are aware of exactly what they are contributing to a project, meaning fewer mistakes, greater consistency, and a shared knowledge of what others are working on. This creates an environment in which creative thinking is encouraged from start to finish – which will ultimately enable marketers to create more impactful work.

One company already witnessing the benefits of these technologies is AVEVA. Over 20,000 enterprises in over 100 countries rely on AVEVA to help them deliver life’s essentials: safe and reliable energy, food, medicines, infrastructure and more. By connecting people with trusted information and AI-enriched insights, AVEVA enables teams to engineer efficiently and optimise operations, driving growth and sustainability. However, with the company going through a significant merger the leadership team urgently needed to work out how to consolidate multiple project teams, tools and processes. This is why the marketing function decided to implement a collaborative work management solution.

Implementing a collaborative work management solution has enabled AVEVA to centralise multiple project teams, tools, and processes, while bringing together employees in one easy-to-use platform. By helping to boost visibility across marketing teams and the other departments they work with, this technology has been key to building better brand consistency and improving results. Since onboarding, the organisation has grown from 248 to 505 users and collaborates on approximately 1,000 tasks in the platform each month.

With a looming recession, marketing teams cannot afford to fall victim to the Dark Matter of Work. In order to be successful, they need to gain greater visibility and better integrate applications. It is only then that they will truly understand the work being done across an organisation and streamline it. By implementing these changes, marketers will have time back to focus on work that drives ROI.

Make change management your marketing superpower 

By Genefa Murphy, CMO at Five9 

“There is nothing permanent except change.” When the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus uttered these sage words, it’s unlikely he had the world of customer experience in mind.   

However, this universal wisdom has specific resonance for businesses  around the globe who are trying to navigate the rapid consumer shifts brought about by the pandemic. Expectations have soared, and consumers are more demanding than ever before. They expect seamless, personalised interactions from brands that can quickly respond to ever-changing market conditions.   

At the same time, customers  are calling on brands to demonstrate corporate change. 

Customers want to see demonstrative action on sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and social responsibility. As consumer demands grow and evolve, businesses must reinvent internally, not just respond externally. And, as marketers, it’s not enough that we simply respond to and accept this change. We must drive it.     

We are change-makers, at our best, creating real impact based on real insight. 

This means the CMO of today is more than just a marketer. They are also a Chief Customer Officer. Today, successful marketing teams are not simply lead generation machines; they are customer experience experts relentlessly focused on uncovering and understanding new customer needs and expectations. The goal for marketers is to be the champion of the customer. We are the customer’s voice into the business. 

The worlds of marketing and customer experience are now one, and marketers must embrace our role as agents of change and be willing to bring the wider organisation with us. 

While change can be exciting, enlivening, and invigorating, it’s not always easy and can be uncomfortable, especially when we are called on to respond to such a broad spectrum of factors – not least the rollercoaster that is the ongoing Covid crisis. 

The starting point for any marketer seeking to drive customer-focused change is to begin within your organisation. Get out of your comfort zone and explore experiences in a function outside of marketing. Join sales, spend time with support teams or engineering. Take the opportunity to deepen your diversity of thought and gain different perspectives that will give you the tools and understanding to move from a ‘service’ marketing model to one that drives purpose, fostering relationships that make change happen.  

As Forrester analyst Katy Tynan recently wrote, marketers “must embrace continuous transformation on their way to becoming customer-obsessed and be ready with the resources and recognition to sustain the energy required to drive successful change.” 

Change is what we do best 

So how can marketers help lead collaborative change in a way that inspires enthusiastic buy-in? The simply titled ‘Get Stuff Done’ process, outlined by Kim Scott in her bestselling book, Radical Candor, could prove a helpful starting point. 

Essentially, this process puts communication – listening, debate, discussion, story-telling, and honest learning – at the heart of change management. As Tynan advises, “The number one obstacle to business transformation and change in most organisations is resistance. Anticipate employees not agreeing to get on board, challenge yourself to develop the best case for change, anticipate where resistance might emerge and why and then address it.” 

As marketers, this focus on anticipating resistance and understanding our ‘customer’, coupled with a focus on communication should play to our strengths. It is just one of the reasons why we are a vital asset in driving forward any change focused on the customer – and really, shouldn’t customers be at the centre of all decisions? 

Of course, for marketing leaders, there is a fine balance of moving fast and bringing people along on the journey. The fast-flowing current of external uncertainty may lead even the most resilient teams feeling tossed around by the rapids.  That’s why I am a passionate believer in the model of aligning, amplifying, and accelerating. It’s a simple model that can be applied to any marketing strategy but is especially relevant when dealing with change. Our mission as marketers is to align our colleagues and stakeholders within a customer-focused mission, amplify impact through innovation and accelerate transformation by showing demonstrable impact.   

True leaders don’t dictate. They influence, inspire, and motivate. The same characteristics are found in great marketing teams and marketers. No matter if you are starting your journey in marketing, or are stepping up to lead the marketing function, now is the perfect time to harness change to prove yourself as a leader. Not only will this lead to personal career satisfaction; it will also ensure success in your most important mission: serving your customers. 

The Evolution of the Chief Marketing Officer

By Yogesh Shah, CEO of iResearch Services

The role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) has changed dramatically in the last few years. What started as a role primarily based on market research, advertising and brand management, quickly evolved into a role focused on customer experience and data analytics, with key emphasis on supporting other members of the C-Suite to define the purpose of the business by providing insight into what the customer needs, rather than what the business assumes it should sell. Whilst many of these elements remain the same, the role of the CMO has now become far more complex.

Changes to content consumption, consumer and organisational behaviour, the rise of social media and worldwide disruptions such as Covid-19 have meant that many marketing strategies have been given a makeover, creating new priorities and responsibilities for CMOs as a result. 

As a valuable part of the C-Suite, the importance of the CMO role is not up for debate. Establishing a brand identity and a clear space in the market will always remain a priority, but where should CMOs now start as they navigate the new landscape?

Traditional vs digital media 

Change is all around us, but it isn’t just a result of this year’s events. One of the biggest drivers of this change is the shift in the use of media. The world has rapidly moved from the use of traditional media to have a heavy focus on digital; a change which has now become a permanent part of media and content consumption.

In the U.S. alone, digital ad spend has climbed up to $151 billion in 2020, significantly more than the combined $107 billion that traditional marketing has garnered. These figures are even more impressive when considering that in 1999, digital ads only had a $4.79 billion cap while the traditional market enjoyed as much as $94 billion at the time.

Bringing it back to the changes we’ve seen this year, CMOs are also now contending with audiences that have less, or no, commuting time and therefore have longer to consume content in different formats; will we see the rise of longer-form, data-driven content consumption? User-generated content has also become extremely prominent in many marketing and content strategies; turning to the end-user to show first hand the benefits or applications of the product or service in real-time.

With more changes undoubtedly on the horizon, traditional marketing should not be discarded. After all, many consumers claim that they have a longer-lasting impression of TV ads than they do with digital ads. The CMO therefore needs to be ready to adapt, with an open mind towards bringing back the methods of the past to meet consumer needs.

Data-driven campaigns 

The need for advanced research has also greatly changed the role of the CMO. In the past, CMOs have needed to rely purely on gut feeling, however the maturity of the market has shown that data is needed to back up these gut feelings for guaranteed success.

Furthermore, advances in technology such as big data and artificial intelligence have made their way onto the CMO’s evolving list of responsibilities. With a data-centric approach, CMOs can use the large volumes of analytics to their advantage and identify actionable patterns, trends and behaviours to use within their content and campaigns. By forecasting trends and building strategies based on concrete insights, CMOs are now able to create the next best campaign that not only resonates with the intended audience, but that creates a need the consumer might not have even been aware they had.

Taking this one step further, CMOs can integrate this data into their campaigns themselves. For a B2B audience, a CMO can create compelling, data-driven thought leadership content to demonstrate how much they understand their audience, building a relationship as a result. Acknowledging that decision-makers may still be working from home with no morning commute and therefore more time to read an industry-led report, could well be a winning strategy for CMOs to implement as businesses continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.

The future of the CMO

Research shows that 88% of organisations agree that the role of the CMO has changed in the past two years alone. These organisations also believe that the role of the CMO will continue to change.

No matter how you look at it, the CMO of today is not what you used to know. And, as the introduction of new technology continues to accelerate and ‘digital’ becomes the norm, the role of the CMO won’t stop evolving any time soon.

The CMO position is set to become even more varied than it is now, with different responsibilities and job role requirements that will make the position unique to each organisation, depending on what other roles they have within both their C-Suite and the rest of the marketing team. For example, if an organisation has a CDO, Chief Data Officer, then data analytics, reporting and strategy might not be part of the CMO’s role; but if there isn’t a CDO, then the CMO will likely be responsible for data as well as other aspects within the wider marketing strategy too.

Regardless of differing responsibilities, organisations will require CMOs to apply insight to their strategies to ensure they address wider business challenges. As a result, CMOs will no longer work in isolation but will be part of the organisation’s vision of growth and market leadership. Working in harmony with other members of the C-Suite and their own team, CMOs will be – and are – instrumental in bridging the gap between customer data and the strategy that needs to be executed as a result of that data. However, with so many responsibilities, the CMO will need a strong and structured team around them to provide support.

It’s time for CMOs to embrace the ‘new normal’, consider how they can use new – or traditional – methods to reach their new audience and to remember that data is key: both to reach their target audience and within the campaign itself.

Industry Spotlight: Direct mail is now stronger than ever…

Direct mail is widely-viewed as one of the original forms of marketing. For over sixty years, marketers have enjoyed huge success with this simple, yet effective form of communication. However, the rise of digital technology has heralded an array of new methods, leading some people to question how much longer direct mail will form part of the mix.

So why, in this day and age of digitally-innovative forms of promotion, should direct mail still be taken seriously?

Carpet bombing and the bubble

The use of direct mail for marketing purposes was groundbreaking, enabling companies to communicate with their customers beyond the confines of an office or store. However, the extremely high volume of direct mail marketing in the 90s earned it the negative terms ‘carpet bombing’ and ‘junk mail’. People would return from holiday and struggle to open their front doors due to the sheer volume of promotional collateral piled up in their hallways.

Whilst direct mail has learnt from its mistakes and grown to become a medium that is much more refined, the problem of excessive volume is now plaguing the digital marketing industry. Regardless of how sophisticated digital communication methods have become, content inevitably becomes ineffective if it is not targeted at the appropriate recipients. According to, 75 per cent of consumers get frustrated when offers, ads and promotions have nothing to do with their interests. Given that people are increasingly setting up ad-blockers and ignoring promotional emails, it has never been more important to carefully personalise content and only target individuals most likely to be interested in your proposition. Direct mail certainly leads the way in terms of its ability to deliver relevant, timely, and highly personal content to consumers.

The capabilities of direct mail

The success of direct mail marketing has exceeded most people’s expectations. The latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report states that direct mail is still one of the largest ad channels in the UK and continues to bring in well above £1bn annually. Direct mail marketing is just as effective as it ever was, if not more so thanks to more sophisticated forms of customer data analysis, enabling brands to target customers more effectively.

Direct mail has stood the test of time because it engenders trust; it feels more thoughtful, personal, non-intrusive and authentic. For older generations, direct mail is a reassuringly tangible form of communication. On the other hand, direct mail for younger people is something of a novelty; they rarely receive post, making them more likely to pay attention to it. According to a Royal Mail MarketReach report, young people are 18 per cent more likely than the general population to welcome direct mail, and 32 per cent more likely to find it memorable.

Direct mail can also be used to bridge offline and online marketing methods in order to provide a diverse communications strategy and cater to a modern, digitally-savvy audience. For example, marketers can ensure that direct mail contains information such as QR codes that draw customers back to company websites.

Intelligent data

Data is key to the long-term success of a company’s marketing strategy. Neither online nor offline marketing methods would be nearly as successful if businesses did not analyse customer data and use it to understand those they are targeting. The shrewd use of data has revolutionised direct mail in the last two decades by enabling businesses to deliver content with the right message, at the right time, to the right individual. It is this that has made it one of the most enduringly successful forms of marketing to date. And with the increasing volumes of data available today, the capabilities of direct mail will only get stronger and more effective.


Mark Roy is founder and Chairman of REaD Group, the UK’s largest independent data group. Over the course of his career, Mark has transformed the marketing industry by pioneering data suppression and data cleanliness, as well as introducing industry-defining products including The Gone Away Suppression File (GAS), The Bereavement Register, Qinetic and The Oracle.

CMOs ‘first in firing line’ if company targets are not met…

The annual The C-level Disruptive Growth Opportunity’ online research report from Accenture Strategy analysing the attitudes of 535 CEOs and 847 CMOs from organisations around the world has determined that, although an estimated five ‘C-level executives’ are usually held responsible for driving disruptive business growth, the majority (37 per cent) will place CMOs first in the firing line if growth targets are not met.

The results found that CEOs depict CMOs to be the ‘primary driver’ of disruptive growth (50 per cent), closely followed by chief strategy officers (49 per cent), and chief sales officers (38 per cent). The majority of CMOs (96 per cent) also recognise the importance of disruptive growth to revenue potential, and an additional 75 per cent believe they have a great deal of control over the disruptive growth levers in their company.

Senior managing director leading Advanced Customer Strategy at Accenture, Robert Wollan commented: “Organisations that rely on ‘growth by committee’ struggle to achieve their targets. It breeds a C-suite culture where everyone is responsible, yet no one is accountable – and onus unduly falls onto someone, usually the CMO.

“CMOs can take a greater role by actively driving the disruptive growth agenda and generating new value for the business. Such initiatives include developing ecosystems with non-traditional players, launching platforms that elevate current products into expanded service models for customers, and increasing revenue through next generation connected data monetisation – all of which CMOs are well positioned to do.”

The report did, however, acknowledge that many CMOs are not currently in a position to drive disruptive growth due to time and mind-set. Only 30 per cent of believe they are cutting-edge marketing innovators, and 37 per cent of their time is spent on innovation. Furthermore, 60 per cent claim to spend the majority of their time on ‘traditional marketing initiatives’, such as improving customer experience and maintaining brand image.

While evidently important, 54 per cent state a large portion of their marketing budget is being wasted and not delivering the results the business expects.
Download the full report here