The 4 “A”s of Marketing: What Every Marketing Leader Should Know / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How can you create a sustainable marketing initiative in 2016? Read about the issues modern marketing organizations need to confront.

Marketing companies learned a few hard-won lessons in 2015.

While some are embracing new marketing strategies and technologies, others are struggling to transition from traditional outbound marketing to the more personal inbound marketing which is more effective in the current landscape.

In their end-of-year solution guide, The CMO Guide—Building a Modern Marketing Organization, the CMO Club and Oracle Marketing Cloud interviewed CMOs about the issues modern marketing organizations need to confront to create sustainable marketing initiatives in 2016.

Related Article: 19 Pieces of Great Marketing Advice from the Pros

What Do Consumers Really Want?

The modern consumer is increasingly frustrated with the in-your-face advertising that inundates them on every website, music streaming program, and mobile app. With so many companies yelling over each other for consumers’ attention, few are heard over the resulting cacophony.

In response to ad fatigue and changing buying behavior, marketing strategies have shifted to become a little more subtle and a bit more personal. In an age of limited time and attention spans, consumers want tailored marketing that caters to their personal experiences. Building customer loyalty through relevant and meaningful marketing is now far more effective than bombarding buyers with endless, generic ads.

How Every CMO Should Address the 4 “A”s of Marketing

A tumultuous marketing landscape means leaders need to not only embrace changing marketing strategies and new technologies - but also address structural issues with their teams.

While no organizational strategy fits 100 percent of companies, the CMOs interviewed for the report focused on 4 key themes that should guide every marketing team’s organizational decisions: acumen, alignment, agility, and accountability, each of which is outlined below.

1. Acument

While the basic principles of marketing still apply in the 21st century, the methods have changed drastically.

Rapid technological changes and new marketing tools call for skillsets to be regularly adapted to match consumer behaviors. Of all the capabilities top marketers look for in potential employees, these were the 10 most frequently cited.

  1. Customer Insights—Effective marketing increasingly uses real customer data, creating strategies based on patterns of behavior, opinions, needs, and wants.
  2. Digital Marketing—Apps, websites, and SEO are now central to marketing, and digital skills are no longer optional.
  3. Social Media—Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter—and similar social sites that are sure to pop up—are especially important in marketing to Millennials.
  4. Integrated Engagement Planning—Brands more than products are what sell so curating a consistent image across all touch points is essential.
  5. Content Development—Content is king, specifically content that is entertaining or relevant and that consumers will share across their networks.
  6. Evaluative Analytics—Marketing analysts are leading the way to faster, informed, and data-driven decision-making.
  7. Predictive Analytics—Predictive analysts stay on top of the trends and predict customer behavior to keep marketing fresh.
  8. Customer Data Management—Customer data should be centralized and accessible to all departments.
  9. Marketing Technology Planning and Implementation—Marketing and IT need to collaborate to stay up-to-date on tech options and quickly implement the best tools.
  10. Innovation Planning—Marketing needs to be in the present while learning from the past and planning for the future. A whole-company push for innovation is necessary so that the day-to-day does not get in the way of the future.

2. Alignment

The importance of brand cannot be understated. Every interaction with the customer, from product descriptions to social media presence to customer service communications, needs to tell a cohesive story.

Related Article: Are You Trending?

 Distinctions by department are increasingly obsolete and siloed teams often have different objectives and even less communication. As a result, alignment across functions and business unit is imperative to successful marketing and collaboration.

The CMOs interviewed addressed these challenges by ensuring that expectations, models, tools, and information were aligned across departments, and that communication and respect were foundational to company culture. Some of the common strategies that CMOs employed were:

  • Share a mission, values, and goals throughout the organization as the basis of every decision across departments and functions.
  • Align everyone from executives to line marketers around a common model.
  • Prepare calendars for planning and alignment and establish clear roles.
  •  Utilize planning tools that ensure that all strategies correspond with overarching organizational goals.
  • Merge marketing and sales for consistency across customer touch points.
  • From the top down, encourage collaboration, mutual respect, and the free sharing of ideas.

3. Agility

To survive in today’s fast-paced world, where technologies and trends change multiple times over the course of a year, marketing teams require flexibility. Marketing teams need to adjust to real-time communication and adapt before fast-moving competitors by enabling everyone from marketing associates to executives to collaborate and innovate.

Here are a few tips for driving collaboration and innovation:

  • Inviting and funding experimentation.
  • Encouraging communication between employees from disparate functions.
  • Establishing pilot programs, and iterating that “failing” is necessary to learning.
  • Stop delaying at the top to model effective decision-making.

4.  Accountability

 As organizations place more trust and responsibility on their employees by encouraging innovation and decision-making, they need team members who exercise accountability and pride in their work.

Just as customers want transparency from the brands they consume, so is internal transparency key to forming trusting and collaborative work environments where employees value what they do.

Analytics contribute to the push for accountability, delivering data about who is doing what and in how much time in real-time.

Here are the CMOs’ key recommendations:

  • Maintain focus on company objectives and supply employees with accurate and timely information.
  • Choose what you want to measure carefully, as an abundance of data is difficult to wade through.
  • Model accountability and transparency from the top down. Employees are more likely to give 100 percent if they feel that their supervisors are doing the same.

Related Article: Into the Crystal Ball: 4 Online Marketing Predictions for 2016

With careful planning and an open mind, CMOs from single-brand B2B models to global multi-brand CPGs can transform their marketing department to adapt to the needs of the 21st-century consumer.

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