The past few years have been a gauntlet of challenges that seem to have forever cheapened the word “unprecedented” in a news headline: an economic downturn, supply chain problems, a pandemic. Even trends that aren’t negative—like the emergence of new social networks and the rise in remote work—have completely transformed the landscape for marketers.
For our recent marketing report, we asked over 500 marketing pros about the changes they’re navigating, both internally and externally, and what they feel they need to get ahead. Here are the three major challenges that came up in their responses, and the relevant statistics. If you’re struggling with these, you’re not alone.
Challenge 1: Navigating the economy
As anyone with a stake in the stock market can attest, there’s been a lot of uncertainty recently, which is having an impact on marketers. Many industries are contending with layoffs, and resources are likely to be more restrained as companies take precautions.
According to our research, almost half (49%) of marketers say that the health of the economy is the most important factor to their company’s success, which is causing some anxiety. At the same time, 53% of respondents said their company is experiencing more competition now compared to last year, combining new pressure with that economic uncertainty.
Finally, 41% of marketers say it’s challenging for them to keep up with changing market needs. As the economy (and the consumer) evolves, marketers feel they need to work harder to keep up.
Takeaway: Marketers today feel like the economy has a major influence on their success, and market changeability makes things more complicated.
Challenge 2: Getting a seat at the table
Another common challenge has to do with empowerment and autonomy. The tumultuous economic environment has taken a toll here too, because great ideas often take money, and money is getting tighter. Thirty-three percent of marketers said that they expected their budget to decrease or remain the same, which will make it harder to meet growth goals.
More troublingly, many marketers also said that they lack another kind of power: influence. Over a quarter (28%) of marketers say that their work is valued only a little or not at all by leadership, and 4 in 10 marketers said they lack autonomy and control of decision-making. It’s tough to do your job well if you aren’t empowered to try new things.The challenge here is finding the right way to tell your story to earn confidence and trust. Marketers need to remember to put their skills to work internally, too.
Takeaway: Many marketers feel undervalued, and need to find ways to prove their worth—knowing that if they do, success comes more easily.
Challenge 3: Accessing the right insights
Lastly, many marketers simply need more information. Knowledge is power, especially in the age of “unprecedented” headlines. Forty-three percent of marketers went so far as to say that having access to insights is “critical to their success”—but a whopping 8 out of 10 said it was hard to collect and access data about their target market, and 32% said it was one of their biggest challenges.
It’s both scary and hard to feel like you’re taking a shot in the dark, especially in a volatile environment. But the good news is that when marketers did have access to the right data, their outlook gets stronger. Among respondents who are confident in their company’s position, a full 67% said they have the insights they need most of the time.
If marketers can access the right data, they have more confidence and can make better decisions—and probably tell their story more compellingly internally too.
Marketers understand that having access to the right data can make strategic decisions much easier and win them internal support, but they struggle to access that data.
How to navigate these challenges: ask, listen, act
If you’re contending with market volatility, lack of leadership buy-in, and a need for insights, it’s likely that having the right data can help you make the right choices and get ahead. Here’s how to do it well and act with confidence.
Ask: Make every marketing initiative land (and validate good ideas) by concept testing them before you launch. Concept testing usually involves putting together a few different ideas (ads or marketing messages) and testing them with a select audience to measure response and choose a winner. Doing it with surveys gives you a bigger sample size than a focus group would, strengthening your results and enabling you to measure response within many different demographics.
Listen: Your best marketing material might come from people who are already happy customers. You can use customer feedback to not only understand your most compelling selling points, but also collect quotes and compelling statistics (like “98% of our customers like our new feature”). According to Gartner, three-quarters of B2B buyers consult three pieces of customer advocacy or more before making a purchase.
Act: When you have data about which concepts people love or which messages seem to resonate with your customers, visualize those numbers with charts and put them in a deck. Business leaders who might not appreciate a finely honed message or creative ad campaign will recognize the importance of a strategy founded in research.
Takeaway: Marketers who take the time to ask, listen, and act can create data-driven strategic campaigns and get it right the first time, even in a tumultuous environment.
All challenges are (by definition) difficult—but they’re also an excellent opportunity to grow, differentiate yourself, and get stronger as a marketer and as a part of a growing company. Asking the right questions gets you on the right track. To get more detail on these challenges, plus information about the opportunities and what’s needed to get ahead, check out the full guide.
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