It goes without saying that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. And as we look to the end of the year that so many have called a “giant dumpster fire” – and one can even get a commemorative holiday tree ornament to that effect – I’m choosing to look back on this year with a great degree of positivity.
My feeling is that the tech community has done an admirable job of responding to the global pandemic and the economic roller coaster that we’ve all experienced. We’ve also managed to remain clear-eyed and pragmatic about the future, particularly around the challenges that we’ll face in 2021. With that in mind, I spoke with two chief marketing officers (CMOs), who also happen to be Bospar clients, about what they see as the biggest challenges ahead.
Nadine Sarraf, CMO of Prodoscore, a maker of employee visibility and productivity software, opined that 2021’s biggest challenge will be capturing audience attention. “We’re all feeling so many things in today’s world, and these feelings are likely to carry into the new year, unfortunately,” she commented. “And we may be exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated, and we’re anxious and antsy, tired of computer screens, and looking for an escape. That mindset and all the noise will make it difficult for marketers to position brands as relevant and worth your time.”
Another CMO, Aurelie Guerrieri of Open Systems, a cybersecurity and connectivity provider for the enterprise cloud, has a unique perspective on enterprise marketing challenges for 2021. She observes that moving away from the “obvious,” like not having traditional field events or in-person sales calls, will continue until people can gather together safely.
She points out that 2020’s accelerated digital transformation has only highlighted how CMOs must exhibit all three legs of the CMO “stool” together – including product marketing, branding and demand generation – to be successful. Guerrieri says, “With the measurability that the digitalization of all marketing channels brings and the flipping of the funnel that an information-rich, recommendation-driven digital world brings, CEOs and boards should now demand that CMOs excel at all three disciplines. They should be able to cross-pollinate, measure and execute fully integrated marketing campaigns across B2B or B2C channels and marketplaces.”
In terms of specific B2B challenges, Guerrieri notes that many transactions take place in person and that digital media can’t replace those meetings with the same effectiveness. She says, “Companies are struggling to cut through the webinar noise, as well as the flurry of targeted ads. Unfortunately, most virtual conferences come nowhere near to delivering the enjoyable networking experience that live events do. I’ve also heard many B2B marketers complain that digital marketing effectiveness metrics are decreasing and that we need more touchpoints to close the sale. So, proper orchestration and instrumentation and high-value content at these touchpoints are key.”
She continues, “Also, many B2B products are now entirely transacted online. One might be able to do e-commerce when you never thought you could, maybe facilitated by a lower-priced trial offer.” While these CMOs point out the numerous challenges that we face, this year has proven that we’re all pretty adaptable. In tech – the industry that defined the “pivot” years ago – we must once again prepare for greater upheaval – and ultimately make 2021 a year of positive change.