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3 Qualities Marketing & Research Leaders Need Now

It may be 2022, but Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ quote from over 2500 years ago was never more true than now: “The only constant in life is change.” As a marketing and/or market research leader in this ever-changing environment, what do you need to do to ensure your organization not only survives, but thrives well into the future?

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with The Ortus Club as part of their CMO Series, and we explored what it means to be Head of Marketing today, and the responsibility of that person to drive growth for the organization. Since that interview, I’ve taken the opportunity to elaborate further on some of the key concepts I shared. I hope you find the following perspective on what I consider to be “must-have” qualities for an effective marketing and/or market research leader in 2022 useful.

1) Intellectual Curiosity

Once again, the last couple of years have certainly proven that there is nothing more constant than change. While this may be unsettling, it can also be fascinating. What changes does the future hold, and how will that impact our lives and our businesses?

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it is more likely to have generated a long and successful career for anyone in marketing and/or research. Continually asking questions, gathering data, and uncovering the relevant insights are what keeps business leaders on top of their game, able to pivot as markets and customers evolve over time. While staying the course may seem like the prudent (less time-consuming, less expensive) thing to do, it is often the opposite. Products, services, and experiences can go stale, enabling more nimble competitors to step in and steal revenue. Check out The Business Case for Curiosity for more on this idea.

But curiosity in a business sense shouldn’t just be limited to one’s own markets or customers. Effective leaders are curious about adjacent markets, customer influencers, and what is happening today as well as what is in the pipeline. A best practice I’ve adopted is to make a point of participating in a few well selected virtual conferences and events, and initiating conversations with people who have roles or are from organizations I’ve not previously worked with (or perhaps even heard of). Those encounters are great opportunities to ask lots of questions, listen, and learn about what’s coming from beyond your immediate horizon.

2) Business Adaptability

The most obvious example of the benefits of adaptability is with respect to technology and tools. Even within the last decade, technology has enabled marketing & research leaders to gain so much more visibility into their own performance, as well as into the attitudes and behaviours of their customers and prospects. It has been a true game-changer, and those organizations who have not adapted simply cannot compete.

Even small businesses who don’t use massive CRM systems or marketing automation platforms need to be adaptable. Consider the impact of COVID restrictions on sales and service processes. With smaller budgets and very little margin for error, many small businesses suddenly needed to improve their digital service offering or throw in the towel.

That said, in addition to being willing and able to learn new technology, adaptability with respect to ideas and perspectives is key to success as well. Getting to know your team, and adapting to their communication preferences, workstyles, and motivations can produce tremendous synergies where there might otherwise be friction or conflict. Furthermore, it can create opportunities for the whole business to evolve.

3) Performance Driven

In my interview with The Ortus Club, I suggest that the CMO is typically the driver of growth. I am even seeing the title CGO appearing in some companies. Regardless of title, I believe it is that person’s responsibility to identify opportunities, assess them and help turn them into revenue. More and more, Sales and Marketing are being integrated, with a foundation in data.

Whereas the performance of marketing efforts in the past was sometimes challenging to quantify, the explosion in digital marketing and the close connection required between Marketing and Sales make it critical for today’s leaders to measure and monitor performance. While I am an advocate of the test and learn approach, organizations cannot afford to perpetually invest in techniques that don’t work, or that cost more than the revenue they generate.

The most effective marketing leaders have established Key Performance Indicators, and are constantly reviewing the results of their initiatives and strategies using this lens. Armed with that information, they are able to make changes (adapt!) and course-correct for a better outcome. This focus on data and analytics can also help identify new opportunities to explore (if you are curious!).

Summary

Today’s marketing and research leaders need to drive growth for their organizations, and while opportunities may abound, the competition is fierce. Curiosity will help identify new areas for growth, often before anyone else has thought of them. As well, constantly asking questions will help an organization be prepared for challenges and bumps in the road. Adaptability, both in terms of technology and perspectives will help a team to move ideas from concept to market as efficiently as possible. And finally, being Performance Driven will enable today’s leaders to pivot quickly if needed, or double down on a big win that was created thanks (in part) to curiosity and adaptability.

If you’re curious about your organization’s untapped opportunities and would like to learn more, please contact me. I’d be happy to share data from some of our latest studies, discuss opportunities for custom reports and/or studies that align with your KPIs, or recommend conferences where you may find further inspiration.

Written by Stephan Sigaud

Stephan Sigaud, MBA, is Phase 5’s EVP of Marketing. Stephan is passionate about partnering with clients to address their challenges and opportunities around customer centricity. Stephan has more than 25 years’ experience in Market Research and Customer Loyalty and Experience and is a Board Director of the Insights Association. He has also been volunteering with the Customer Experience Professionals Association (as past Chair of the CXPA Toronto Network) and the Canadian Marketing Association (as member of the Leaders Network and past co-Chair of the CMA CX Council).