Webinar Recap: Tips for Marketers Leaders During Economic Uncertainty

It’s no secret that we’re in an economic downturn. Inflation hit a record high in June 2022 at 9.1%, and economic growth is slowing worldwide. 

As economic volatility continues, how can marketing leaders prepare for the headwinds to come? Inverta brought together four marketing leaders in a recent webinar to share their wisdom on the topic. The executive panel discussion included:

  • Kathy Macchi, VP of Innovation at Inverta
  • Deborah Wolf, CMO at Integrate
  • Jennifer Dimas, CMO at Telarus
  • Steve Hardy, CMO at Prophix
  • Allison Breeding, CMO at Apptio

In this blog we’ll recap how marketing leaders can refocus their priorities, address budget concerns, and follow best practices for times of economic uncertainty.  

Focus on Impact to Drive Results

Times of uncertainty are great opportunities to reassess your current approach to find out what’s moving the needle and what isn’t. For example, asking questions that refocus priorities on impact-driving areas can actually refine your focus and improve overall outcomes (rather than cutting off areas of impact due to limited resources). 

Answering the following questions can provide direction on where to focus:

  • What should I continue?
  • What should I stop?
  • What should continue to evolve?

When you double-click on every growth tactic to examine what’s working and what’s not, you’re free to focus on the activities that produce results. Imagine getting a 10% increase on each of those activities rather than implementing new strategies — that’s where the magic can happen, even in times of uncertainty.

After all, the needs of your customers haven’t disappeared. Your team’s goal should be to work horizontally in service of the buyer rather than vertically in service of each approach that reaches the buyer. Refining your messaging and prioritizing methods that share your messaging more efficiently is a great way to reach your customers, cut costs, and still hit growth goals.

Advocate for Your Budget By Proving Every Dollar

In times of volatility, sales cycles slow down and budget cuts seem almost inevitable. How can you ensure your team’s vital resources aren’t on the chopping block? By knowing your value.

Firstly, measure, measure, measure! Gone are the days when marketers had to estimate their value. In today’s climate, proving value for every dollar spent is a vital skill every marketing leader should develop.

Consider these tips when it comes to budgeting conversations and proving your value:

  • Show what outcomes every dollar invested can provide. Conversely, have honest dialogue about what results will NOT be provided with budget cuts.
  • Share your impact with the sales team and others so they can advocate for you. For example, if sales leaders understand how marketing budget impacts their goals, they’ll be more likely to defend what you both need to succeed.

4 Marketing Best Practices for Economic Uncertainty

Sometimes some sage words of wisdom can help steer you in the right direction. At the end of our webinar, we asked the four CMOs to impart their best advice for other marketing leaders going forward.

Consider these four takeaways:

  1. Be buyer-centric. B2B buyers are becoming more like B2C buyers every day. The ways they get information, interact with your brand, and want you to recognize who they are aligns with the path for B2C customers. Stay ultra-focused on the buyer beyond identifying personas. Talk to buyers and, most importantly, get your team attached to serving your buyer as part of a broader effort rather than an individual one.
  2. Focus on areas of impact. Marketing has so many opportunities to spread out, but don’t lose sight of what’s working. Do less of what isn’t important and more of what is going to make real change.
  3. Hone your value message. Continuously plan so that your message is received by the right audiences.
  4. Understand what works, and do more of it. Understand what doesn’t work, and do less of it. 

At Inverta, we help marketing leaders bridge the gap between strategy and activation. During times of economic volatility, having a partner in your corner who helps you bring down costs, go farther with your current efforts, and stay focused can unlock your marketing team’s potential. Learn more about how we help with strategy and planning here.

Is Your Martech Stack Effective? 6 Steps to Find Out

Have you ever balanced your marketing budget at the end of the quarter or the year and caught yourself wondering, “I’m paying for all this martech. But what am I actually doing with it? How do I ensure I’m getting the most out of it?”

If so, you’re not alone. Despite marketing teams dedicating over half of their entire budget on martech and in-house labor, 42% of martech stacks go unused. The solution? Taking inventory of your martech stack using a systematic and organized approach.

In this blog, we’ll break down Inverta’s 6-step process for inventorying your martech stack.

1. What Are Your Goals & Functionality Needs?

The first step to taking inventory of your martech stack is to get clear about your marketing and sales goals. After all, if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, it will be difficult to know what provides value or not.

After goals have been outlined and delineated, determine what technology functionalities exist to meet those goals. A few great starting questions to ask between the sales and marketing organizations include:

  • Is there duplicate functionality?
  • Is there functionality that isn’t well adopted?

2. Decide How & Where Martech Fits (or Doesn’t)

Next, determine how technology fits into your overall marketing strategy. Remember, strategy and technology complement each other. Considering one before the other can land you in two scenarios: You have a fully fleshed-out strategy but have no idea where to start, or you have a few digital marketing tools you use aimlessly without a clear end goal in sight.

Deciphering how technology and strategy coexist will help you decide which tools to keep and which to sunset.

3. Map Your Data Flows & Integrations

After deciding what tech to keep or to get rid of, the next step is to map it all out. This means making a visual representation of all the data flows and integrations that your martech brings to the table in order to build a single view of customers and accounts.

Why? This will help you know which sources take priority as well as see where any gaps from the previous steps still exist. Here are a few methods to visualize your martech stack:

  • Vendor category map of all the tech products you currently use.
  • Customer journey map of how a customer moves through stages such as, “discover, consider, buy, onboard, and grow.”
  • Back-end vs. front-stage map to show which tools enable the team’s efforts that the customer doesn’t see vs. what the customer does interact with directly.

Role-based map where you map which person on the marketing team owns what technology and where roles overlap.

4. Build a Maturity Model for Future Growth

Now that you know exactly what you have and how it plays into your strategy, it’s important to consider the future of your martech stack. At Inverta, we call this the Martech Maturity Framework. 

A maturity model outlines a clear path of where you are and where you want to be. For example, a framework could start by contrasting the capabilities, people, and processes with the technology required to achieve several increasing levels of digital capability: Operational, Digitalized, Connected, and Intelligent.

As your organization matures, you’ll have a framework to follow that keeps your martech organized and utilized the whole way through.Tip: Build your maturity model according to your organization’s goals and needs. Avoid comparing functionality parity with competitors or peers. Otherwise, you might end up with more unused tech and less budget to go around.

5. Outline Your Tech to Team Roles

An important but often overlooked step of taking inventory of your martech is considering the governance, or usage, component. After all, technology can introduce risks — security or otherwise — that are important to avoid. 

Document how each tool should be used and by whom so it’s clear to all users on your team who owns the tech and who will implement it. That way, you not only avoid security or bandwidth issues but also make it clear to end users which tools are available to them.

6. Train Your Team on Using Your Martech

Last, but certainly not least, it’s paramount to ensure that all staff is trained on how to use your selected martech tools. This may look like upskilling current employees or simply hosting frequent training sessions to ensure everyone is on the same page.

At Inverta, we help our clients through these steps in order to create a martech vision and roadmap. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you use technology more effectively, contact us here.

Check out Strategy With Accountability: How Good Martech Affects Program Strategy

Specialization vs. Synchrony: Which is Better for B2B Marketing?

In many ways, marketing reminds me of fashion. When a person comes across as stylish, it’s not because he, she or they are wearing a pair of designer shoes, or carrying a trendy handbag – it’s the combination of each piece of clothing, an air of confidence, a smile – that work together to earn the description. We experience people as whole entities, not as deconstructed pieces and parts. 

This is why I believe specialization is one of the biggest problems with B2B marketing teams today.  

Stimulated by the COVID-19 pandemic, specialization of in-house resources has become more pervasive than ever. In-house marketing resources could include skills, such as SEO or web development, and function, such as job roles specializing in webinars, email marketing, and social media.

There are several reasons companies are increasing specialization, which we’ll address, but in the battle between specialization and synchrony, specialization seems to be winning.

Still, synchrony is way more impactful.

The Appeal of Specialization

Rufus Franck, the founder of Consultants 500, took a close look at the top Fortune 1000 companies in the last 40 years. He states: “By 1983, one-third of these companies had fallen off the list. By 2013, only 30% of the original companies are still on the list. This pace of change will continue to increase as only a third of today’s major companies are expected to survive the next 25 years.”

This trend, among others, has led many companies to specialization in hopes of rising above intense competition and industry noise. Additional factors that have increased the trend in marketing specialization include:

  • Higher volume demand forces roles to churn out as much work product as possible.
  • Last-minute pivots and course corrections from higher-ups, which often leads to increased frustration and decreased productivity.
  • A never-ending culture of reactivity, which is brought on by little-to-no planning or a misappropriated need to seem “agile.”

Synchrony = Efficiency

The entire purpose of marketing specialization is to become a big fish in a small pond. You want to have the most prominent presence among your target audience and be seen/heard over your competitors. 

However, while this can help you create more targeted and impactful marketing, it can divide your teams if they’re not aligned around a shared business goal or objective. 

For example, if your social media team is working towards one goal and your content marketing team another, these teams are asynchronous. Essentially, you’ve got several medium-sized fish scattered throughout several ponds (AKA silos). They may be contributing to business growth, but they’re inadvertently creating a fragmented, inconsistent narrative that isn’t meeting the needs of your buyers.

Synchrony brings all the fish into the primary pond. Marketing is more effective and impactful when it’s grounded in a common theme and provides customers with a consistent experience. 

Think about the top B2B campaigns you’ve seen (i.e., IBM’s ‘Every Second Counts’ campaign or Cisco’s SuperSmart Security graphic novel). The reason these campaigns were so successful is not that they had great messaging or powerful graphics (though that definitely contributed), but because they were consistent—synchronized—around a larger message that customers felt both in and out of the campaign.

Here’s my point: marketing specialization is great. It allows everyone to play to their strengths and encourages excellence in each practice area. But it’s synchrony that brings everyone to the table and creates truly impactful marketing messages that B2B leaders pull off every day.