Chief marketing officers (CMOs) have a lot on the line now, as new marketing challenges have come to the fore. What the future holds is the next big question. How do CMOs strategise correctly for the short term – and do long-term strategies even exist any more?

Arye Kellman, co-founder and chief creative officer at Tilt, discussed these issues with some of SA’s top CMOs during a recent FM Redzone digitised event.

This has been a tough year, and it has placed enormous pressure on CMOs to pivot continually, pointed out Neo Makhele, chief strategy officer at Ogilvy. Planning for growth in this environment is a challenge. From an agency perspective, understanding the challenges its client’s business faces is critically important, as is understanding the impact of societal changes on consumer behaviour.

What the Covid crisis has revealed, said Kaibe Mollo, head of marketing at African Bank, is that traditional media platforms still play an important role and that digital should not be at the expense of these traditional platforms. Insights remain critically important to enable customer engagement. Research plays a vital role in allowing marketers to do a social temperature check. However, while research used to happen at points in time, always-on-tracking studies allow marketers to be much more on the ball, he said.

Despite the importance of research, great creativity still rules in terms of enabling great work, allowing a brand to arrive at its destination, maintained Danni Dixon, consulting chief marketing officer. She added that despite the huge amount of change prevalent in the marketing industry, many of the fundamentals – like brand building – will remain the same. Brand experiences, she added, are even more important now than they were pre-Covid.

Dubai-based Avik Sarkar, the marketing director for Kellogg SA, said that in addition to the four Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion), the three As of marketing are arguably more relevant than ever. These are: agility, adaptability and ambiguity. Agility and adaptability are required to navigate the rapid rate of change, while ambiguity characterises the current uncertain environment.

What drives any brand and allows consumers to connect with it is its purpose. His advice to marketers was to keep it straight and simple. “Don’t unnecessarily overcomplicate things, and stick to the fundamentals.”

Mollo agreed that purpose was important, adding that functional consumer relationships are transcended once the brand purpose aligns with the consumer’s purpose.

The big take-out:

Despite a rapidly changing environment, marketers need to stick to the fundamentals.


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