Artificial Intelligence to be a Key Component in Branding, and Sales: Difficult economic times seem to be right around the corner. And with that, CEO reactions to these recessionary expectations will also be, in many cases, predictable. A recent survey by Chief Outsiders indicates that these fears of recession and the inflationary environment drive executives toward demand activation and near-term sales and away from long-term brand building.
What is taking place is a significant recalibration of brand building vs demand activation strategic mix, in favor of the latter.
The new emphasis on demand activation is a very understandable reaction to all the inflation talk, even if the economic data don’t necessarily support that conclusion. Nevertheless, it will now become the role of the CMO to ensure that in the current economic climate, companies do not forget to invest in their brands altogether. Abandoning their brand image for the sake of short term-sales would be a crucial mistake for any business.
Let’s Talk About Growth
According to the survey, CMOs now believe that safeguarding growth is their highest priority this year. CEOs are increasingly giving the CMOs the responsibility for driving that effort, offering the CMO a more permanent role in strategic and business-critical decision-making.
What’s likely to foster that much desired growth?
Most CMOs believe that revisiting market and competitive insights, refreshing strategy, and accelerating digital marketing capabilities will be the biggest critical factors in helping companies grow in 2023.
Challenges With Strategy
Two types of challenges present themselves in the above mentioned context of companies’ growth priorities. First, as said, there is a focus on demand activation. While there is nothing wrong with doubling down on demand activation, CMOs will find themselves having to help their companies not forget about the brand. Heavy discounting during a recession can seem a smart thing to do, but customers can have long memories. Post-recession, they will often ascribe lower quality to a discounting brand and avoid it once the economy picks up. Notably, as Peter Fields and Les Binet have stated, “A 1% improvement in brand health results in a 10% lift in customer lifetime value and a 10% reduction in price sensitivity.” So, balancing brand and demand generation will be one important challenge.
Another important challenge is that whatever mix of branding and demand generation is pursued, CMOs are reporting that often sales and marketing are misaligned. Then the strategies formulated by marketing are not well translated into actionable tactics for the sales teams. The sales team’s marching orders will get lost in translation without tight coordination between the two teams. No alignment, no sales, in the end.These alignment issues will have to be mitigated if any strategy is to be executed successfully. Luckily, the increased use of digital channels for demand generation is already one big help in achieving increased alignment.
Accelerating Digital Marketing Capabilities
ChatGPT – and Artificial Intelligence in general – have taken the public’s imagination by storm. And executives are not exempt from seeing real opportunity in using machine learning to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
Following the launch of ChatGPT, marketing executives increasingly see that ChatGPT, and other generative AI applications, will come of use especially in content creation and management. These executives even place AI before traditional elements of market research and digital marketing.
It certainly behooves marketing professionals to embrace AI for the many ways the technology can help them serve their clients efficiently. AI will not replace experienced marketers and everything they have to offer their clients, but marketers who are versed in AI will replace those who do not understand the technology. CMOs expect that AI will have the most impact on marketing in the context of customer targeting and modeling customer behavior. The AI-automation here shortens the time frame needed to target and acquire new customers and even quickly targets the best customers based on identified personas. This increases demand for products and services in a more rapid timeline.
The traditional marketing pursuits of customer experience, market research, and strategy development remain pillars of growth for any modern company, but alongside these established elements are the more recent digital marketing programs as well as the possibly revolutionary AI. These will be the most significant driving factors in delivering growth this year.
Companies must take care to remember the importance of maintaining their brand- in responding to changing customer behavior, how to make more value-driven shopping decisions, and how this takes place in a difficult economic environment. The long term ought not be sacrificed for short term gains, however valuable the latter might be.
The challenging year ahead will provide CEO-endorsed CMOs with the opportunities to not only grow their own companies’ balance sheets but also to prove the strength of the new programs of digital and AI-powered marketing campaigns.
Written by Pete Hayes.
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