Portfolio marketing must act as a compass through changing seas in 2023

Sailors approach the end of summer with relief and caution. As the days get shorter, the high season draws to a close, allowing time for delayed repairs and improvements, but also signaling the approach of hurricane season.

As businesses gear up for 2023, forecasts are unusually uncertain. Global conflicts and supply-side inflation threaten recession, even as many sectors prosper and employment remains high. As the economy captures the immediate attention of businesses, their ultimate success will depend more on their ability to respond to changing post-pandemic shopping behaviors. Tackling changing buying behaviors was the number one priority for B2B marketing decision makers in the Forrester Marketing Survey, 2022.

In the face of uncertainty, portfolio marketers must return to their most essential function: providing the company with information about markets and buyers. Faced with uncertain seas, portfolio marketers can’t afford to take shelter. Instead, they must scale the lookout and guide their companies to open waters where there is room to maneuver around obstacles and find tailwinds.

In 2023, we recommend portfolio marketers invest in audience-centric approaches to help their organizations respond to economic uncertainty and build efficiency and effectiveness that will guide their organizations to respond to changes in buyer behavior. Portfolio marketers must:

  • Watch the markets to spot faulty assumptions and course correct. In times of crisis, we tend to act when our organizations often need to understand better. Don’t take for granted the conventional wisdom that in a downturn companies focus on cost or delay hiring. Instead, think of them as assumptions and ask your customers to validate their reaction. Help the CMO fulfill his mission to drive the commercial strategy. Carefully review campaign, product launch, and go-to-market plans to see if they meet the right audience priorities given changing markets, and recalibrate messaging to meet changing buyer needs.
  • Dedicated staff in “solution” roles to create a lean go-to-market strategy. It may seem counterintuitive to add new roles in times of change, but adopting a more audience-centric approach can help portfolio marketers streamline the company’s go-to-market strategy and manage change more effectively. Match offers to “solutions” based on the needs of an audience segment, typically an industry, company size, service, role, or use case. Defining audience-centric solutions will more effectively capture buyers’ interest around their specific emerging needs.
  • Lead initiatives to generate value in the shopping experience. Buyers are quickly expecting their B2B shopping experience to be as responsive as their consumer experience. Unfortunately, our organizations are often divided by functional silos, with each marketing and sales channel struggling to consume and respond to a wave of new signals. With its unique insight into buyer needs, behaviors and preferences, portfolio marketing is able to drive alignment on how to meet these new buyer expectations. Coordinate efforts to gather information scattered across the organization and begin to create a a more efficient and valuable shopping experience.
  • Stop trying to make everyone happy. As a highly cross-functional role, portfolio marketing is continually tasked with fostering alignment within the organization. Teams often create charters and checklists to create predictable connections and manage expectations from other functions. In times of change, portfolio marketers will see increased demand for tactical execution just as the need to step up strategically increases. To successfully steer the business through change, portfolio marketers must renegotiate their role and resign themselves to leaving some colleagues unsatisfied. Refuse requests create materials and In place be sure to invest the necessary time to allow partners in campaign, content, requestSales, and customer success so they can create effective and aligned tactics independently.

Clients can access our full set of recommendations for where to invest, where to retire and where to experiment in our 2023 planning guide for portfolio marketing. If you are not yet a customer and would like to know more, do not hesitate to contact us.

About Marilyn Perkins

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