Summertime: The Perfect Opportunity for Marketing Leaders to Reflect
We’re about midway through the summer, and you’ve finally been able to kick back and enjoy a few days at the beach, in the mountains, or wherever you find peace. We all know that time away from the demands of the business is very important for one’s health, sanity, and perspective. Hopefully, you have enjoyed sipping on that summer drink while not checking email and have allowed yourself some precious downtime.
But with only a few weeks remaining until Labor Day, and the start of the inevitable push to finishing the year strong, the summer is often a good opportunity for strategic reflection. According to Dorie Clark - business school professor, Harvard Business Review contributor, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Long Game: How to be a strategic thinker in a short-term world - 97% of 10,000 senior leaders surveyed said that being strategic was the most important leadership behavior tied to an organization’s success; however, in a separate survey, 96% of senior leaders said they just don’t have the time for strategic thinking! Why is that?
Perhaps there’s a misperception that strategic thinking only takes place at corporate retreats (we’ve all been to those and groan at the thought of one more), but the reality is that fresh thinking is more likely to occur when you allow yourself some space to reflect. It doesn’t have to be oodles of time in one go – perhaps a short walk in a pleasant environment or time outside to enjoy your morning coffee uninterrupted by email, chat, or the seemingly endless focus we marketers devote to content, clicks, and conversions. This challenge is supported in Gartner’s 2023 annual CMO survey, where
“60% of CMOs report that short-term execution pressures keep them from focusing on long-term strategic goals.”
Where to Start?
As you think about your organization’s three or four strategic priorities, consider the following:
1. Focus: Zeroing in on Strategic Priorities
Has marketing been able to fully support each of the strategic priorities?
Where has there been the greatest success, and why?
Where have the efforts fallen short, and why?
What are the potential roadblocks?
Key Takeaway: Identify the marketing initiatives that will have the greatest impact on the business by year-end and determine the resources needed to succeed.
2. Time Wasters: Reducing Resource Drains
What has been the greatest waste of time and resources?
Can some activities be eliminated, or at least tabled, to re-focus efforts on a higher strategic priority? If you were presented with some of these activities today, would you still allocate time and resources to them?
Key Takeaway: Trying to do everything often means nothing of substance gets done.
3. Budget: Optimizing Spend for Greater ROI
Where can you reallocate funds to support the top strategic priorities throughout year-end and into 2024? What can you pay for now to set you up for next year?
As we approach 2024 planning season, and amidst multiple competing priorities, how can you optimize your marketing spend to achieve the greatest ROI?
Look to eliminate potential redundancies such as needlessly advertising to the same target market already being reached through multiple other efforts and resulting in only marginal returns.
Key Takeaway: Use whatever data you have available to determine where you are achieving the best (or least) return on your marketing spend.
4. Technology: Evaluating Current Capabilities and Your AI Strategy
Do you have the tools and capabilities needed to implement your marketing strategy? Are you using all the features in your existing stack that can deliver value?
How could AI-powered tools help drive greater efficiency and results? Remember that AI can be overwhelming to consider implementing, especially when you are still trying to finetune your current marketing and automation tools.
Determine your organization’s position on the use of AI. Does it align with your view? Has your leadership team embraced AI? Have employees been blocked from accessing publicly available tools to limit perceived risk? If so, you may have to request special access to test out the various tools.
Key Takeaway: Establish a clear vision and roadmap for how you see current and emerging technology playing a major role in driving your company’s business and marketing strategy.
Time to Act: Preparing for a Productive End of Year
Block off (and protect!) some weekly quiet time in your business calendar from now until Labor Day, and gradually work through each of the four areas listed above. Stepping back from the day-to-day will help you gain important insights into where you need to focus your efforts for the rest of the year.