From tragedy to transformation: Marketing leads the charge in our new normal

No one saw it coming. But in retrospect, marketing leaders have been preparing for years. Corporate marketing and in-house agencies are ahead of the COVID-19 curve, having already taken steps toward digital transformation to deliver personalized customer experiences at scale amidst constant change. They’re positioned better than most to design modern operating models, adopt agile processes, and implement management and operational technology to meet the urgent need for decisive action going forward.

Marketing that thrives in today changing environment.

As leaders in other disciplines navigate transformation fundamentals—including working in a digital environment and leveraging remote best practices—many marketers have already laid the very same groundwork. They’ve learned to thrive in a digital environment that’s now a requisite for remote, distributed work. These marketers have much to offer their counterparts elsewhere in the organization to help them quickly address the challenges of the new normal.

While every discipline has similar roots, marketing is ahead of the curve in adapting to this new normal. With generally more digital experience under their belts, marketing leaders are better equipped to flourish in challenging times (figure 1).

Figure 1. How marketing teams are adapting to a new normal.

Working in partnership with leading technology providers, Zee Jay Digital helps marketing leadership—and creative, operational, and technology teams—better operate and structure in an increasingly challenging environment. With a new normal unforeseen just three months ago, we’re more committed than ever to help our clients do just that.

Following are four steps those leading marketing change can take to adapt to recent realities:

1. Realign the organization with the new normal’s customer experience.

What are the new characteristics that define your industry (retail, grocery, financial services, life sciences, etc.)? What differentiates your organization and its offerings and delivery models? What channels need to be leveraged? Defining what kind of experience is needed to be competitive comes before almost anything else.

2. Reimagine marketing’s operating model to reflect today’s reality.

Who does marketing serve internally and externally? What are its capabilities/responsibilities across the customer experience? What work’s outsourced, what’s insourced, and where do these functions live? The answers to these questions form the basis of marketing’s new operating model, the blueprint for everything that happens next, including process design and technology implementation.

3. Redefine processes to enable rapid response.

Creating the plan-of-action to make straight-through collaboration easier, work simpler, and output more reliable is the next step to get marketing where it needs to be. While marketers have flirted with an agile approach for several years—it’s time to get serious. Whether a marketing organization moves their on-location agile processes to a remote environment, or is implementing agile for the first time in a remote scenario, it is possible to succeed. Coaching, development, reinforcement, sensitivity—plus smart use of technology to facilitate processes—is key.

4. Realize the value of a fully functional, integrated stack before poor work habits set in. 

Enabling speed takes more than agile processes. Rapid response to the market (and revenue recovery) requires a digital shift. Technology, integration, and analytics capabilities to support the customer experience, the marketing operating model, and agile practices is essential to making marketing stronger at a critical time Helping marketing teams benefit from comprehensive connection between and among adjacent solutions, including MRM, DAM, PIM, financial management, and resource allocation technology is what Zee Jay Digital is all about

Zee Jay’s clients have a head start. The marketing leaders from these organizations—and the marketing ops teams who support them—are poised to manage through today’s new normal, while positioning themselves for even stronger performance in times to come.

A version of this blog originally appeared on Workfront’s blog on June 5, 2020