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Marketing has another chance to become a superpower

For marketers, a large window for change has just opened—and the prize is big. Take a look at the new message from Thomas Barta, the keynote speaker of Brand Management 2020 conference in Prague coming up on September 30th.

Let’s face it: marketing had missed its last big slot. Not long ago, digital technology arrived and gave marketers unprecedented powers. Powers to understand customers. Powers to increase returns. Powers to shape the C-suite agenda. Naturally, the stature of the CMO should have risen. Marketing should have finally become the central function. It didn’t come that way. Too many CMOs still haven’t found their power formula. Too many CEOs still don’t get why customer focus matters. During the 2007-2009 crisis, for example, shareholder returns of firms with a poor customer experience trailed their best peers by a factor of 3! Weak marketing leads to weak returns. Slot missed.

Then Corona came. Over night, firms cut budgets, ended campaigns, furloughed marketers. Sometimes for good reasons: finding cash to survive. Mostly for bad, when CEOs didn’t see that marketing investments drive future revenue. The pandemic was a shock—and marketers felt it in spades.

Along with the crisis came the world’s largest trial program and the digital landslide. Both combined have now opened - what could become - this marketing’s most important change window of this century.

The world’s largest trial program is on. Millions of people are trying cooking at home, wearing masks, seeing the kids. At the same time, thousands of brands have cut marketing spend, creating space for attackers. Qatar Airways is aggressively restarting flights ahead of Emirates. Procter and Gamble is increasing advertising—while competitors are cutting budget. Brave CMOs are now asking: which new consumer needs could we serve? What would people try while they are living different lives? What’s the boldest move we could make to grab share?

The digital landslide is real. In April 2020, web cameras were basically sold out. Technology firms clocked record sales. And we all went big on video calls, pretty much overnight. Data is suddenly (really) the king. All over the world, marketing and sales teams have pulled together, pooling data sources, diving deep into insights—to make ends meet. The pandemic has achieved within days what CMOs have tried to push for years: making the case for data-driven marketing. There’s never been a bigger C-suite need for digital guidance. Brave CMOs are now proposing bold changes for how the company works, taking charge.

Leading marketing isn’t the same as doing marketing. In this unique moment, we need marketers who are bold enough to step up and take charge. Marketing has another chance to become a superpower. The window for change is still open. It won’t be for long. The time is now.

Author: Thomas Barta – meet him at the Brand Management conference in Prague, September 30th.

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