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How the marketing manager role has changed (and how you can still wow people)

Posted by Veronica Wainstein on May 21, 2020 at 9:30 AM
Veronica Wainstein
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How marketing managers can get the creativity flowing

The role of the marketing manager has changed considerably in 2020. How can you continue to deliver outstanding results for your business during a recession and beyond?

We’re almost halfway into 2020 and boy, has it been a crazy ride!  From South Africa being downgraded to full junk status and a global pandemic that took the world by storm, who would’ve thought we would find ourselves in these uncharted waters?

In these uncertain times, marketing managers face a challenging role as they could be responsible for two to three people’s jobs at the same time. However, marketing managers now have the opportunity to work smarter and tackle all challenges, despite the uncertainty.

According to The Drum, a global media website in Europe, “...When faced with challenges like this, it's time to turn to The Godfather for that inimitable advice: ‘Go to the mattresses.’ In other words, prepare your business for the long haul. Get your metaphorical mattresses ready for your company soldiers to sleep on while they wait for the battle.”

Does it sound too good to be true? Let’s change your mind.

How marketing managers can still wow people during a recession

Adjust your success metrics from a sales-focus to include building brand awareness and capturing share of voice

While sales is a true indication that your marketing campaigns are performing well, during hard times sales shouldn’t be your main success metric. 

The alignment of sales and marketing during times of uncertainty is essential. There’s a bigger push towards “smarketing” and making sure every cent spent yields results. If your marketing spend doesn’t result in sales during tough economic times, a big misalignment will occur if sales is still your primary success metric - so you need to focus on the bigger picture, measuring things like increased followers and brand awareness - building your share of voice online could convert to more sales down the line once buyers return to making purchases.  

Augarian, a digital marketing agency says, “COVID-19 has made this a crazy time for marketers. For many companies, no matter what you do, your customers aren’t buying, or they are delaying their decision. If you find yourself in this situation, focus on long term goals and away from demand generation.”

Work smarter - outsource wherever you can so that you can focus your energy on the tasks that really add value

Now is an excellent opportunity to outsource your marketing to agencies. This will not only lift the burden on you as the marketing manager, but also create further employment opportunities within the advertising industry. Agencies will need to negotiate their rates and be responsive and supportive. They’ll need to show they’re prepared to handle the pain with you and add as much value as possible during this challenging time which can be done by reducing retainer rates for a period, lightening the load for companies and helping them navigate through the uncertain times. At Penquin, for example, we are currently offering 50% off our social media packages for SMEs.


Contact us to find out if your business qualifies for 50% off your social media package


Stay connected through virtual brainstorming sessions with your team

More work is currently taking place from home. Luckily, for the marketing industry, our activities don’t always need face-to-face interaction. McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm notes, “Operating in agile ways—and remotely—they will need to focus on short-term business health priorities (e.g., cash flow, “run-the-business” revenue targets) but at the same time put the business in a position to address longer-term realities and opportunities.” Working from home means time can be used more efficiently and creatively to connect with your team and brainstorming, although challenging, should still be taking place via Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or any other video conferencing tool. 

Penquin team on a Zoom call

Internal marketing departments should also potentially engage more with their agency on a creative level and request to be part of brainstorming when it comes to product launches or brand awareness campaigns. That'll help you feel included in your brand’s journey, rather than just being presented to at the end of the journey. It will also spark some creativity and keep you inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, now’s the time to get creative with your brand’s communication strategy

Now, more than ever before, content is king. People have more time on their hands, as their ability to move around is limited and they’re opting to spend this time online. According to Business 2 Community, “Your goal should be to ensure they spend it with you. Instruct your marketing team to produce helpful content that will actually help in the everyday life of your customers.”

Creative storytelling that is helpful, sharable and relatable will stand out amongst all the clutter. Use news websites or social media platforms actively to get your message across - and make sure that message is memorable. Rather create one shit hot piece of content than 10 half-hearted ones that get lost in people’s newsfeed.

If you’d like some juicy content to make the lockdown days go by faster, download our Integrated Marketing eBook below:

Get Your Integrated Marketing eBook

Creativity can also help you adapt to the new, predominantly online environment

CNBC, a news website says, “Brands have always had a hugely significant role to play in driving culture and this is ever more relevant in times of crisis.” For Penquin, it’s business as usual with the only difference being no face-to-face meetings. We’re still conducting our full communication strategies and virtual events. We have a lot of meetings every day. With travel time reduced, more clients are getting more  attention more often. We really believe that working remotely means better productivity and frees up headspace to smash out more creative campaigns. 

Face-to-face was so 2019

We launched our first live event during the 21-day lockdown and have now developed loads of new capabilities to assist clients. Take a look at the example below:

PNN Live On Demand

Spend your marketing budget wisely

With the recent downgrade to full junk status in South Africa, we’d be silly to think people won’t cut their marketing budgets as marketing is always the easiest or first budget to be cut. The truth is the brands that continued to forge forward during the recession in 2008 were the ones that remained strong throughout the recession and came out even stronger on the other side  - so as a marketing manager, you need to now, more than ever, really invest in your brand.

As Gartner, a global research advisory firm says, “All organisational functions will be called on to prioritize spending. Try to avoid across-the-board cuts. Look instead for ways to drive efficiency (for example, by looking for overlap in agency or marketing technology contracts), and to reduce or postpone obligations that won’t bring value — and may even come off as tone-deaf — in the current environment.”

Budgets will be downsized, and marketing managers need to be responsible about this by making sure they get the most bang for their buck wherever possible. 

With this in mind joint venture (JV) marketing campaigns can help you join forces with like-minded brands to help both organisations stretch their budgets further. Finding other brands to partner with and putting together offers for customers that really add value will not only conserve budget, but help you reach a wider audience, increase your share of voice and convert to more sales.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is only temporary as the lockdown won’t last forever. The economy will get a boost - it’s inevitable. The economy goes down, it goes up, it goes down again, it goes up again. We're in steep “down” at the moment, but it will pick up again and investing in your marketing efforts now is what will yield results in the long run.

Based on the current economic situation, the audience, and overall ROI, 60% of the budget spent digitally and 40% spent traditionally would be an ideal split. TV is a great place to be advertising, as people are at home and looking for entertainment. There are loads of packages available on the DSTV bouquet for example, and they can still help you reach a large audience. Lastly, your negotiating power via traditional media is very high. All you need to do is speak to your media buyer and make sure your agency is negotiating hard for you. 

In conclusion

No matter what you do, always track, measure and analyse your results. Measuring everything means taking responsibility for your marketing efforts. Define your key performance indicators and measure them against your success criteria. Measure, optimise and learn from your mistakes. 

But, above all, always remember that this too shall pass, and you’ll come out as the top-performing marketing manager that you are. Believe in yourself because we believe in you!

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