How Retailers Can Put the Science Into Marketing Planning
Increasingly complex market conditions, global operations, and sudden disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, now demand that retail marketers can respond to new realities at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, retail marketers are under enormous pressure to keep up with fast-paced changes in consumer behavior to deliver a great customer experience while turning masses of data into meaningful growth for their organizations.
Now, marketers have the technology to make better decisions, drive real growth, and prove their worth. The key to unlocking that opportunity lies in embracing marketing operations that put the smarts into marketing campaigns.
Marketing operations is ultimately about helping the marketing team in their daily work. This is about collaboration, clarity and alignment for the marketer. It’s about knowing how to drive impact. Who doesn’t want to feel confident in what they’re doing at work and know that what they’re doing makes a difference? Who doesn’t wish to be able to spend more time on activities that make a real impact to the business?
Marketing operations allows retail marketers to close the gap between marketing strategy and delivering on the customer experience. It gives them visibility and control to harness opportunities for seasonal or other time-specific campaigns and adequately shift resources and respond to market changes. It also allows retail marketers to accelerate critical content creation due to time-consuming review processes and gain a comprehensive view of marketing performance against budget spending.
The returns can be impressive. One large electronics retailer that operates in 40 regions, each consisting of multiple districts and each district containing approximately 20 stores, saw the improvement close up.
The company runs ad campaigns across all these regions and districts that need to be tracked and managed in terms of ad placement, vendor identification, and creative content. The 40 regional “planners” were required to input this information into Excel files every day for input into their financial system, which enabled campaign identification and vendor responsibility.
This manual process to capture vendor funding and creative costs was labor intensive and vulnerable to numerous errors. It didn't allow for a real-time, single point of truth and prevented clear communication of channel requirements and creative needs to the creative and media teams, who needed to build out the content for these campaigns. It also hindered the ability to adjust channel allocation and ad placement as the campaign progressed. This lack of real-time visibility created a lag in making campaign adjustments and resulted in the inefficient use of ad spend.
The company wanted to put science into marketing planning and remove the reliance on Excel spreadsheets. By implementing a single, integrated SaaS platform to manage, simplify, optimize and automate the entire marketing value chain, the company gained much-needed collaboration, visibility and agility to support campaign planning and management. The solution provided a central location where the entire team could access and review activities in real time from anywhere in the world. These benefits resulted in fewer administrative tasks and more time to focus on strategy and creativity.
The company achieved 3 percent more budget through improved budget visibility and 25 percent improved content creation and speed to market through marketing operations technology.
As we think ahead and strive to move forward from an unprecedented period of disruption and uncertainty, the underlying challenges of optimizing performance in increasingly complex retail organizations will remain a constant. Retailers that think bigger about the role and benefits of a strong marketing operations structure and function will be better equipped to embrace agility and confidently face the future.
Mirko Holzer is the CEO of BrandMaker, a marketing resource management platform provider.