The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) just released their latest data on marketing confidence, based on a survey taken from marketers around the country and their take on economic recovery in enterprise from where they sit. As a marketer, that would include me.
So what does economic recovery in enterprise (that is, growth) have to do with marketers? Why would the CIM tie together marketing and business confidence in a survey?
It's actually very clever. Marketers are front-line business people. We operate in that space in between the customers, the audience, and the brand and services. And if growth is dependent upon clients spending more, or getting more clients - then it most certainly makes business sense to garner their thoughts.
Marketers are a great barometer when it comes to sensing how risk-averse their businesses are: it's their projects that get pressured, their budgets that get scrutinised, their ROI that feeds into forecasts. And the CIM's marketing confidence monitor shows that only 43% of marketers believe their business has an appetite for risk and investment over the next 12 months - worrying, when we're meant to be righting ourselves and getting back to 'normal.' So 1 in 2 businesses is still risk averse. And marketers are telling you this, directly. It's a wavering, flickering optimism.
So marketers aren't convinced their companies are adopting a healthy appetite toward risk - one that will allow their companies to think outside of the box, stretch, push themselves, and transform in ways that all of the new customer trends and mining of big data and international commentary seem to demand. But here's the bigger problem - no one is asking them WHY.
Marketers themselves admit, according to Thomas Brown, head of insights at the CIM, that they are frustrated by their lack of involvement in contributing to strategy development - and moreover, have been for some time. They feel that their expertise when it comes to customer insight, brand experience, and innovation possibilities for product development is under-used.
This is Bad News. It means that businesses are massively missing a trick when it comes to capturing valuable insight, and turning it into foresight. Are businesses less willing to take risks because they don't have the full picture? A picture that, if only they empowered and invited all functions, including marketing, to take part in colouring, would show them the way forward?
What is it that marketers see, that if they shared with fellow colleagues in the C-suite would impact how risky, innovative, and therefore growth-minded companies would be? They see feedback come back from the sales teams about where there is demand and appetite. They see what sorts of people are engaging with the company's brand: where and to what extent. They also see what other companies in the space are doing, better and worse, to bring their products and services to market. They have access to, and monitor, the analytics, the stats, the qualitative feedback - on a regular basis. Viewing marketers, therefore, as an 'output' function rather than an 'insight' function is missing the big picture.
So while the 'marketing confidence' survey is, indeed, an important barometer, it's also indicative of a big, big opportunity. Ultimately, output leads to insight. And Insight leads to foresight.
So, here's the bottom line for businesses: listen to your marketers. We know stuff. Don't let that stuff go to waste.
- Sabilah Eboo Alwani
Sabilah Eboo Alwani is Raconteur's Marketing & Communications Manager. Raconteur regularly works with the Chartered Institute of Marketing.