The “Marketing Gap” is literally a gap between the competencies of the existing marketing team and what it takes to compete, win business in the market place.
Without a doubt, it’s important to know your marketing and also market forces. Marketing is related to economics and given the fact that there is a recession looking to hit Australia next year it is essential that you know your product and use that to gauge your place in the market
The first thing to do is put thought into it, reflect on what worked in the last recession and then see if that can be replicated. Businesses should identify consumer spending habits, observe how they are changing, and look at how they can be flexible to match the new buying patterns.
Everyone talks about marketing to attract customers, and this is especially true for the person responsible for marketing within the business - whether it is the marketing manager, the CEO or the company director. However this isn’t the only thing that the marketing leader needs to know.
The person responsible for marketing needs to not only understand marketing but should have sound economic principles and should have the ability to identify what skills are necessary to accomplish goals for the new financial year.
We find that many businesses mistakenly combine marketing with operations, however marketing is more closely aligned with finance and strategy purely because both of these functions look at future revenues for the business. When businesses make this shift in the way they approach marketing, it will be much easier to see how to tackle the upcoming recession and hit the ground running this financial year.
What are the key issues facing a business looking to close their “Marketing Gap”?
The Marketing Gap exists for a number of reasons, ranging from a lack of skill, a shortage of headcount, or a misjudgement of existing competencies.
According to a poll conducted amongst key marketing executives by Nine Dots Marketing, results showed that the ability to recruit, develop and train talented staff was still the number one attribute mentioned by 86% of respondents and one of the most important factors for building stakeholder value. However, only 8% of managers surveyed had completed an individual training plan for their staff over the previous 12 months.
This is a clear indicator that while organisations value the importance of developing their employees, most had not put competency based performance management into practice. If the Marketing Gap is not managed, it affects the commercial viability of a business meaning that the business won’t make money because it can’t meet the needs of the market.
The easiest way to identify if you have a marketing gap is to look at whether you are meeting your revenue goals or not, and then looking at whether or not you’ll easily meet them over the next 2-3 years.
If you’re not meeting your revenue targets, then you have a very clear marketing gap and you need to act with urgency before it’s too late.
If you cannot confidently say that you’ll meet your revenue targets over the next 2-3 years, then you have a clear marketing gap and you have the perfect opportunity to act on it. Regardless of whether you are confident that you will meet your revenue targets over the next 2-3 years or not, it may be a worthwhile exercise to identify changes in the marketplace which may impact your revenue growth, like upcoming legislative changes, emerging technologies, new competitors and so many other variants.
If you are unsure whether you have a Marketing Gap, there are a number of measurement tools that are available. In particular, Marketing Temps have a proprietary set of tools that can help to identify and measure the Marketing Gaps that existing staff have, as well as identifying what is required to fill that gap.
Once you have identified what is required to fill the Marketing Gap, you need to understand how to bridge that gap. The best way to bridge your Marketing Gap is by recruiting the right marketing expertise, however depending upon your needs and also your budget a full time resource may not be something you can justify. In this case you should consider flexible hiring strategies which will provide someone on a temporary, part-time or even a project basis to fulfil the requirement. A flexible hiring strategy is a cost effective way to bridge your Marketing Gap, and in many ways it can also deliver the faster results where specialists are required.
As you collect data from answering these questions, you will be able to identify certain obstacles - or gaps that are beyond the Competency Gap - which you will need to manage in order to ensure that your growth plans are successful. Again, we need to ask the right questions so that from the ensuing answers we can bridge the following strategic gaps:
The Competitive Gap: Can we bridge this gap by actively offering consumers an alternative brand experience to our competitors?
The Usage Gap: Can we bridge this gap by ﬁrstly winning new customers; and secondly increasing the usage and with our existing customer base?
The Distribution Gap: Can we bridge this gap by opening more distribution channels within the existing market area?
The Product-line Gap: Can we bridge this gap by offering our products to new customer segments?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in recent years, the 1st Qtr. has been quite slow. As you can imagine, a slowdown will impact organisations, employees and ultimately the wider Australian population, so this is not good news.
This slowdown is predominantly related to a lower volume of sales, which in turn comes from the fact that we’ve entered a new ﬁnancial year. Sales people have been hustling to meet their targets and quotas for the end of the ﬁnancial year, and from their perspective they need to take a breather.
Think about it: they think that they can afford to slow down - especially now - because they have the rest of the year to catch up on their quota. For salespeople it’s a calculated risk that’s well worth taking, but they are unaware of the impact on the organisation.
However, the salesperson shouldn’t be shouldering the blame for this downturn because it’s not wholly and solely their responsibility. We also need to have a look at what’s happening with organisational leaders.
Typically at the start of a new ﬁnancial year most organisational leaders are focused on challenges and problems facing them. In fact it’s quite common to hear many leaders describing how tough the last year was and how they now need to knuckle down as times are getting tougher.
This is demotivating, and salespeople especially don’t do too well with demotivating messages. As such, they tend to slow down, because they are human after all. How much can they take?
This is the start of the problem we call “Hump Month”.
Meet “Hump Month”
“Hump Month“ is the time of the year where everyone feels like they’ve just climbed a steep hill. People can be tired both physically and emotionally - especially sales people because they have been chasing serious sales targets.
With tired employees, productivity takes a hit, and subsequently ﬁnancial targets take a hit as well.
While the end of the ﬁnancial year is a natural Hump Month for many businesses it is not necessarily a hard and fast rule. Different industry sectors will be affected by slowing productivity at different times of the year, and this can depend upon seasonal factors as well. However, we ﬁnd that most sales and marketing driven organisations will experience their Hump Month at the commencement of the new ﬁnancial year.
It’s important to understand where individual businesses have their Hump Months so that they can plan for it and work with it.
Managing the Hump
When an organisation identiﬁes when their Hump Month is, it is the perfect opportunity to engage with internal marketing and communications and have employee focused events, but more importantly, organisations leaders need to take extra effort to make sure that the lines of communication are open. This is the perfect time to reconnect employees to the values and the culture of the company and have them incorporate it into their daily work.
The focus needs to be on new opportunities that lie ahead and not the challenges. The last ﬁnancial year is over. It’s a new ﬁnancial year, and that means new opportunities.
Leaders need to communicate this to their teams and help them to ride the hump and not be overwhelmed by it.
For More Strategies on How to Increase Productivity, Employee Morale and Revenues,
Click Here and Download: “Frequently Asked Questions on Beating Slumps, Climbing Humps and Hitting the Ground Running in the New Financial Year”
Here’s the problem…
Marketers and business leaders, think that the role of Marketing is all about the marketing mix i.e. running programs, campaigns and initiatives. But, without the backdrop of the strategic elements in the traditional model – this is stepping into dangerous territory where the role of Marketing is relegated to external agencies or other departments within the firm.
This is why, Marketing jobs are at risk.
Leaders need to design their marketing capabilities so that as a function it is at the centre of market management. This means that they are conduits between the internal capabilities of the organisation, and the external factors to establish a strong market position by attracting loyal customers.
By the above description the value metrics for Marketing (and thus its role) becomes a lot clearer;
The further removed you are from any one of these metrics in your current Marketing role the further you are from the traditional model.
The core skills of the Marketer should be focussed on building the strategic pillars and then to rely heavily on independent agencies to implement that strategy. Agencies are specialists – such as creative advertising agencies or technical experts. Effectively the Marketer’s role requires an ability to lead and manage these agency relationships.
In today’s ‘new model’, agencies have taken on some – and at times even all – of the marketing competencies by building their services around offering traditional strategic marketing management skills and processes. They end up sitting alongside the Marketer in leading market management activities, rather than being managed and directed. There is no doubt that this has blurred the lines between the players in the marketing universe.
Over time, Marketers have lost their leadership skills to effectively influence, engage and motivate others to deliver marketing excellence.
The agencies have a vital role in implementing strategy and producing results. They are specialised in creative solutions, activating strategies and problem solving.
However, there is an emerging issue with the changing media landscape in measuring the value add of digital channels.
The transparency of digital agencies to prove their effectiveness and not wasting your money is under question by large corporates as featured in AdNews. One could argue that the reduced marketing leadership has resulted in diminished value.
There are other signs clearly pointing to emerging problems around Marketing’s value and effectiveness:
Productivity is the other side of the story which deals with output and efficiency. There are some principles you may need to consider as a business or Marketing leader. During an economic downturn or even a looming recession, marketers should turn to productivity building strategies.
As the market slows down – or matures – winning competitor’s customers becomes a “cat-and-mouse” game. In this scenario companies typically seek to increase cash flow from existing volume. The levers include:
1.Fixed and variable costs related to your marketing, production, and headcount. Marketing can engage on-demand skills as required to avoid fixed salary pressures and improve productivity.
2.Increase prices. It may pay to trade-off the loss of some customers for higher average returns.
3.Enhance product mix. Instead of simply putting the prices up across the board, a firm can segment the market according to price sensitivity. Then it can target less sensitive segments with upgraded products—this raises the average profits for the company’s product while maintaining existing customers.
As a leader, the responsibility to deliver greater shareholder value and keep a check on ROI means marketing needs to go beyond the “P” for Promotion and manage all of the other 3 “P’s” effectively; Price, Place and Product.
Leaders need to design their marketing capabilities as follows:
Forrester Research 2016: Dynamics That Will Shape the Future in the Age of the Customer: https://go.forrester.com/wp-content/uploads/Forrester-2017-Predictions.pdf