Along with the exciting opportunities for innovation and digital transformation that many leaders have successfully embraced, the pandemic continues to throw new challenges at B2B media and event businesses. Once again, event organisers face issues around live events. Even those who have been able to very successfully grow their digital revenue streams over the past 18 months are immensely frustrated they cannot bring their customers together in-person. Those brave souls who have proceeded to safely host some face-to-face gatherings for their valued community members, in the midst of a pandemic, have found these ‘in real life’ experiences to be most powerful and energising. To keep moving forward positively, senior executives should focus on building resilience into every part of their organisation. From a marketing perspective, organisational resilience can be further strengthened by more relevance. Marketing is all about getting close to your customers and successfully communicating to them the relevance of your value proposition. In the B2B world, this is about focusing – with precision – on the specific individuals within specific organisations who will find your value proposition highly relevant (This is of course assuming you have already achieved a strong enough product-market fit to make what you’re offering worth your target customers’ attention, time, and money. If you don’t have the product-market fit right yet, this should be your focus to strengthen organisational resilience – regardless of pandemics! No amount of marketing can successfully monetise the wrong product…). Getting close to customers is first and foremost about listening. Listening to what they care about, what their pain points are, what motivates them, and what they need in order to get their jobs done well – right now, and in the near future. If you are listening properly to your customers, and responding to their needs with the most relevant products and the most relevant marketing, your organisation will be more resilient. Why? Because your customers will give you their attention and their time, again and again – no matter whether you are delivering your products online or in-person. When you have your customers’ attention over an extended period of time – regardless of format – they should be engaged enough with your brand for you to monetise them well. And, if you can prove you can monetise your customers consistently, profitably and with economies of scale, you have a very good reason to pursue scale. Hence MPG’s mantra since the start of the pandemic: engage, monetise, scale. Building brands as community platforms is only possible if you follow this Engage – Monetise – Scale model. A marketing strategy that focuses on engagement – anchored in relevance – will make your marketing more resilient. This, in turn, will make your whole organisation more resilient. Here are four things we believe are fundamental to building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation: #1: Investment in customer insight: ongoing analysis on what your customers say and do. Via a set of dashboards, make sure your marketers are constantly monitoring how customers are engaging with your products and your marketing campaigns. Ask your marketers to look for and highlight trends in the data to spark questions to ask your customers about the content, networking opportunities, formats and experiences they find most relevant and valuable, and why. Data your marketers should be able to interrogate should also validate and enhance the answers your customers give you. If your marketers are focused on customer insight, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient. #2: Specific, clearly defined marketing objectives – fully lined up behind your business goals. Using evidence-based insight on your customers to guide you, insist on marketing objectives that are realistic, achievable, and – most importantly – focused on achieving your commercial goals. Make sure the decisions you make about marketing investments are based on these objectives, and that your marketers are tracking and sharing results and progress with your stakeholders, along with insights and plans to improve performance over time. If you keep your marketers focused on what is most important, your marketing – and your whole organisation – will be more relevant and more resilient. #3: Smart, focused investment in your marketing website and your marketing database. The website you use to attract and communicate with customers is by far your most important marketing tool. And the data you hold on your customers is by far your most important marketing asset. Sadly, these very often receive low levels of investment, or a great deal of money and time is wasted if they are mismanaged. Decisions you make and actions you take to invest in your marketing website and your marketing database should be focused on achieving your marketing objectives (see #2 above) and your commercial goals (see #1 above). Far too often, websites and databases are high-jacked or poorly led by a (usually well-meaning) senior executive with very little knowledge of marketing, or a mostly tactical inhouse marketing team, or – the worst scenario of all – a smooth talking agency with good sales people who are good at ‘selling the sizzle’, but who have no real regard for the success of your organisation, and therefore the ‘sizzle’ fails to deliver. Your organisation will be more resilient if you have both a strong marketing website and good marketing database – led and managed by people who know what they’re doing, care about your organisation’s goals, and understand your marketing objectives. #4: A flexible and agile marketing function with the right skills, strong leadership, good management, and the motivation to contribute to the success of your organisation. With virtual working now the norm, the world is your oyster when it comes to finding the best marketing skills to form a resilient, flexible and agile marketing function. This can be achieved with a combination of inhouse resources, complimented with specialist, expert consultants and agencies – all well managed to collaborate, create powerful synergies and deliver great results. Marketing requires a vast array of skills that can be brought together to deliver quite outstanding outcomes, as long as you’re willing to treat marketing as an investment and not a cost – and step away from a traditional and inflexible inhouse team, and/or a ‘known’ agency that may be consistently underperforming. A resilient and relevant marketing function can be built if you are prepared to think differently, consider all your options, invest well, and set up, manage and continually support a highly collaborative, hybrid marketing team. If you have highly skilled marketers working for you, no matter where they are based, and whether in-house or external (ideally a combination of both) – your marketing and your organisation will be more relevant and more resilient. To achieve more resilience, keep an eye on MPG Insights over the coming weeks. We will be publishing a series of helpful guides on how to build a more relevant and resilient marketing function (and therefore a more resilient organisation!). So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email every time we publish a new blog or resource like this one. MPG did a great job assessing our digital marketing and marketing operations requirements – considering our business goals. They developed a robust strategy, followed by a practical operational roadmap to help us further improve how we use technology to support marketing and sales performance. It has been a pleasure working with the MPG team! Jonathan Perry, Global Marketing Director, PEI – Alternative Insight Do you need a more resilient marketing function? Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you build a more resilient marketing function, and therefore a more resilient business.