Succumb to doom or seize the opportunity: what will your 2023 be like?
What if the current upheaval and disruption we’re seeing in the world were the norm and the previous few decades of stability an outlier? And if we looked at the state of the economy and the planet from that perspective, might we be better equipped to survive and thrive in 2023?
Without a doubt, there’s a lot of negativity about the year ahead but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be impossible to grow a business and generate healthy returns. Nonetheless, at FS Partnership we are realists and in recent weeks we’ve been speaking to our network of partners and contacts about their thoughts for 2023. Some of the biggest brands today have grown in eras of war and pandemic – think Sony’s emergence in Japan out of societal changes wrought by WWII and Uber Eats during the more recent lockdowns.
With all that we’ve been through in recent years, perhaps it’s given brands confidence that they can adapt. Indeed, one of our clients recently told us: “Having been through and survived the recent pandemic, our marketing department is more agile than ever.” Those that realise this, stand a better chance of emerging from 2023 not only intact but in better shape than in 2022.
Following our conversations, there are some clear emerging themes in the context of marketing.
Four themes shaping approaches to FS marketing…
Budgets and allocation
Many sectors are likely to see pressure on marketing budgets, with leadership teams reducing spend for brand activity to focus on short-term sales activation and lead generation. There is a real risk here that seeing brand awareness as a ‘nice to have’ could merely store up greater problems in the future.
What we think:
Balance is key, making spending choices to reach business goals will yield results, instead of panic-based budget cutting. Otherwise, as one of our clients said, “There is a real danger that we talk ourselves into recession.”
See our article here which analyses the approach to marketing in a downturn. It provides a roadmap for developing a strategy in uncertain times.
Reinforcing that view is Peter Woollven, Managing Director with one of our closest partners, Fingo Marketing. He believes that while the challenging economic conditions are likely to result in a greater focus on lead generation activity, it makes good business sense to continue maintaining brand presence.
Marketing projects that could be seen as optional might be postponed, or even canned entirely, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of lower-funnel advertising activity. Ultimately, there will continue to be people searching for specific products and services, and businesses will want to ensure they are there to maximise any revenue opportunities available.
“Activity that is higher up the funnel, such as more brand-based pieces, could be streamlined, but we’re encouraging people to carry on with as much as possible. If you think about the last sustained downturn in 2008, or our emergence from Covid, those that continued with impactful marketing campaigns were able to see that period out and emerge in a good position for growth,” Peter told us.
Disrupt or be disrupted
The recently released Disruption Index, an extensive survey of business executives around the world by management consultants AlixPartners, found that 98% of respondents planned to change their business models over the next three years, while 57% were going to this year.
What this shows is that the need to innovate and respond to disruption has never been more important. But such is the pace of change that 85% of CEOs told AlixPartners that they didn’t know which disruptive forces to prioritise.
What we think:
There are major implications for large financial institutions and fintechs. From an innovators’ perspective, it suggests that while the coming year will be difficult, the wider market conditions – if The Disruption Index is to be believed – will offer plenty of opportunities to those able to move at pace to help solve problems for businesses grappling with shocks and disruption.
Lots of FS companies will be looking to present their proposition in a way that positions them as a leader. Many years ago we wrote two articles which still have relevance today:
The importance of getting your message right – here
What the dotcom boom can teach us about the fintech era – here
Precision and personality
Finally, marketing teams need to work harder to understand prospective customers’ problems in order to deliver a laser-like focus. The Drum sums this up neatly:
“In 1999, Jeff Cannon wrote ‘In content marketing, content is created to provide consumers with the information they seek.’
“Almost a quarter of a century on, it’s amazing how many content marketers still fall at this first hurdle. They provide information – yes – but it’s not information that anyone is actually looking for. It’s no doubt why 71% of decision-makers say that half or less of the thought-leadership content they consume offers any sort of valuable insights.”
During a recent conversation with a client, we discussed the importance of integrity. They made the following salient point:
“We want to be authentic, clear on our purpose and true to our core values. This will matter more than ever in such challenging markets. As well as this6 we want to share compelling content and story-telling.”
What we think:
Now is not the time to throw mud at the wall and see what sticks. In fact, it was never a good idea in the first place. With limited budgets, and challenging commercial pressures, taking more time to think about the plan is one of the best investments you can make. Clear and authentic messaging is vital to truly engage with clients. Detailed planning and precision will be more important than ever before. As Abraham Lincoln once said:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Agile partnerships will matter
With that in mind, a key objective of financial services providers in the coming three years will be to convince decision makers that their proposition will be an invaluable component in the age of disruption.
We have years of experience helping large institutions and fintechs to see the wood for the trees and provide the right tools for the job. Feel free to contact us to learn more about how we have helped companies to grow in a complex world.