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Markets are fickle but marketers don’t need to be

Snap Chat adds 9 million new users and 17% increase in revenue – but falls behind analyst expectations.

During the lockdown, Snap Chat introduced a slew of new features around AR and reported a 37% increase in user engagement with community-generated AR content.

Snap also sees Facebook’s recent troubles an opportunity to pitch their own platform as the brand-safe, community-friendly choice.

Not long ago, they rejected Facebook’s $3b takeover bid.

Remember 2013 when Snap brushed Facebook’s $3bn offer off the table?

In response, Facebook vowed to kill the platform with Instagram Stories – and almost succeeded when Snap Chat’s growth came to a standstill in 2018.

But Snap has recently done a lot of growing up by:

  • introducing a dedicated app for Android (resulting in an uptick in growth from India)
  • adding Brand Profiles (making the platform more mature for advertisers)
  • introducing Creator Profiles to highlight content creators (and going against their own policy of not treating influencers differently)

They’re sticking to their guns and building a more private social network –  a strategy that seems to be paying off in the current climate.

More users mean more ad revenue.

But their growth in the US and EU is stagnating. The majority of their user growth is coming from developing markets.

And it’s hard for marketers to find promising platforms when new ones pop up every day.

You’ll want to follow this advice to win.

Look for platforms that aren’t just introducing new and exciting features, but are also learning from their competitors.

TikTok is a great example.

Despite everyone’s best effort, there seems to be no end in sight for their growth.

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Recessions fuel adoption of new technologies

The results from research into automation highlights how recessions fuel adoption of new technologies and eliminate low-skilled jobs.

Writing about the findings Brookings wrote, “Several economists have outlined this cyclical nature of automation. Nir Jaimovich of the University of Zurich and Henry E. Siu of the University of British Columbia reported that over three recessions in the last 30 years, a whopping 88% of job loss took place in “routine,” automatable occupations—meaning such jobs accounted for “essentially all” of the jobs lost in the crises.”

In terms of the pace of adoption, researchers discovered that “automation happens in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times such as in the wake of economic shocks, when humans become relatively more expensive as firms’ revenues rapidly decline. At these moments, employers shed less-skilled workers and replace them with technology and higher-skilled workers, which increases labour productivity as a recession tapers off.”

Even though this research specifically looked into the Americal job market, the insights aren’t specific to any one economy or region.

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CMOs are having a confidence crisis

After interviewing C-suite execs from Fortune 500 companies, Deloitte discovered that CMOs tend to disadvantage themselves through a lack of confidence when they engage with their peers.

It seems that CMOs evaluate their own performance far more poorly than their peers do.

This lack of confidence may be keeping CMOs from taking more responsibility in the organisation.

Perhaps that’s what also leads to a shortage of collaboration with other C-Suite roles.

In an interview published in The Drum, CMOs-turned-CEOs shared their insights on how marketing leaders can build up their confidence and shoot for the corner office.

A CMO lives in a land of uncertainty and spends the days predicting trends, spotting opportunities and delivering work that has the purpose of inspiring the future.

Everything in marketing can’t be measured with the same degree of granularity and CMOs need to balance what they know from experience with the objective data in order to make better decisions.

The ability to have confidence in limited data and to be able to connect the dots in a way that energises people into delivering solutions that work isn’t an easy task.

Previous evidence doesn’t predict future success across the business and every move can be a real gamble.

As a marketing leader, you have the ability to drive real change.

Championing the voice of the customer, finding new markets and generating demand are exactly the skills that make or break a brand.

Deloitte also has some advice on what CMOs need to do to for their self-confidence to be justified:

“CMOs must actively contribute in strategic discussions – by demonstrating ownership of key competencies, speaking the common language of the C-suite, and collaborating effectively with their C-Suite peers.”Go on, you can do it! ?

Marketing budgets haven’t been this low since 2014

Last year Gartner CMO Spend Survey revealed that – while marketing leaders were optimistic about their budgets – the actual budgets haven’t been at this level in 6 years.

Gartner wrote that despite facing perplexing external and internal environmental signals, almost 61% of CMOs expected their budgets to rebound in 2020.

That was before the pandemic.

Current forecasts are far gloomier as WARC adjusted its earlier projection for a 7,1% (YoY) increase in ad-spend globally to an -8,1% decrease. 

In the short-term, marketers are switching to online channels to boost demand during the downturn.

In the long run, projections seesaw between the cautiously optimistic – with budgets recovering by the end of 2020 – and the truly pessimistic: a recession in advertising investment lasting into mid-2021.

All isn’t lost, though.

Despite consumers being uncertain about economic recovery in Europe, we can look at how brands and consumers in Asia have responded to pandemics – COVID as well as MERS and SARS.

There’s ample evidence that halting investing in marketing during a downturn is a folly. 

It’s obvious that investing in digital is a lot safer than planning expensive offline campaigns but you need to do more than that if you want to come out on top.

To quote WPP’s Brian Wieser on CNBC; “Every brand should be questioning assumptions about their company’s competitive position. What are the ways in which you can reinvent the category? That the economy will be weak is a given, but any single business’s outcomes are not.”

Marketing always sits centre-stage.

And our decisions are reflected in every ad campaign and message we choose to put out. We set the tone for how customers perceive our brand during a difficult time.

I found this advice from Gartner the most useful:

  1. Engage in scenario planning.
  2. Listen to changes in consumer sentiment and behaviour.
  3. Prepare your operations to deal with uncertainty.
  4. Adapt your marketing plans.

Here’s one last piece of advice from me to you:

Invest in taking your data beyond CTR and Open Rates and actively prepare your teams and analysts to make use of data analysis.

Because Gartner’s 2018 Digital Maturity Assessment found that despite significant investment, organisations still lacked maturity in how they respond to a crisis. Don’t become the next Volkswagen caught in an emissions scandal or like Facebook with recurring foot-in-mouth disease.

Work gave you lemons and you made lemonade

You’ve built your product, your team and the processes to get things done. You’ve made the best of what you got.

Finding workarounds and creative solutions are what got you this far, after all.

Guess what, though? Those very same workarounds and solutions have tangled you in inefficiencies. 

But don’t worry, it’s all part of the process.

As teams grow, legacy problems grow with them and start bogging you down. Until you address them.

McKinsey has a tried and tested method for helping you get rid of your baggage and get to your ‘Sunny state’.

Take Adobe, who achieved its ‘Sunny state’ by moving Photoshop from cardboard boxes to a monthly digital subscription.

Startups are raising the bar with aggressive learning.

They’re delivering things better, cheaper and faster than we’ve ever seen.

In less than 20 years, SpaceX has built, tested, failed to launch and successfully launched astronauts into space. They’ve also reduced the cost of sending one kilogram of payload into space from NASA’s best of $54,500 to just $2,720.

That’s a reduction of $51,780! ?

Boeing, with more funding and more experience, is still trying (and failing) to catch up to SpaceX.

You also probably have the skills and resources available to make the impossible happen. Are you working to make your lemonade better?