Why agility has been the number one marketing skill of 2020

Why agility has been the number one marketing skill of 2020
Jake Athey is marketing and customer experience VP at Widen.

If you look at any job spec for a marketer, the attribute of ‘agility’ will be fairly low down the list of requirements, if on the list at all.

The events of 2020 have changed that – the ability for businesses and their marketing teams to demonstrate agility has been crucial in the face of extreme market pressures that have disrupted strategies across multiple sectors.

Firms operating in the retail sector have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. In the UK, the national lockdown has already had a huge impact on the high street — a total of 11,120 chain store outlets closed between January and June, according to figures published by the Local Data Company and PwC.

The pandemic has expedited the shift to online shopping. Research from McKinsey found that since Covid-19, there’s been a 15-30% increase in consumers who make purchases online. The trend is supported by Kantar, which found that the share of people who undertake 50% or more of their total purchases online has grown by between 25-80% since the virus has developed. Furthermore, six in 10 consumers intend to continue buying as much online once the pandemic has passed as they do now.

The greater reliance on online shopping during the pandemic has forced many retailers to swiftly rethink their business models. A great example is restaurant chain Leon, which turned its restaurants into mini-supermarkets and launched a new e-commerce platform, helping to reduce the pressure on conventional supermarkets. Elsewhere, M&S quickly made moves into online orders for basic food items, and John Lewis made its wide range of in-store advice, including home design and personal styling, available online via video.

The ability to pivot successfully and quickly relies on agile marketing teams. When they are called upon to support the launch of a new product range or service, they know there will be a huge number of digital assets to be created, managed, edited, distributed, and localised. The task has been complicated further by the shift to remote working. Maintaining brand consistency and abiding by brand guidelines in an office environment – and via the traditional approach outlined – can be hit and miss. However, try to replicate and implement this process at home, with other team members potentially hundreds of miles away, and you are in for a real challenge.

Digital asset management (DAM) platforms are proving essential in helping many marketing teams remain agile. Where once brands used their offices, desks, and meeting rooms as collaborative spaces to exchange ideas about, edit, or approve brand assets, they now rely on a centralised digital hub that will be just as beneficial in the office as it is now when teams are dispersed. This hub can be accessed from wherever in the world your team members are based. Assets – from the most substantial video files and 3D animations to tiny snippets of text – can be stored in this central repository, alongside templates and other brand-supporting content.

While DAM platforms have had their place in supporting marketing and creative teams for some time, they are now playing an important, central role for firms bringing their products to market as well. Colleagues involved in product deployment or sales and development use DAM systems to access assets like how-to manuals, manufacturing, and pricing information. Many companies use DAM alongside a product information management (PIM) system – DAM+PIM – to help them accelerate product launches and ensure the accuracy of product listings across the web.

So how can DAM+PIM help an organisation remain agile in these testing times?

  • Quickly find what you are looking for: all assets are in a centralised location. And using metadata to organise these assets allows you to find files quickly. Say goodbye to hours of sifting through personal files, shared drives, and unorganised cloud storage to find the right assets for each project
  • Easily manage versions: as assets are changed, optimised, and updated, be confident that your audience is viewing the most up-to-date version in all locations. DAM tools allow you to use embed codes to automatically link to the newest version wherever the asset is used
  • Understand what is working: DAM systems provide analytics on how users are interacting with each of your assets. These powerful insights can inform future asset needs and campaign decisions
  • Efficiently organise file formats: a DAM system with file conversion options allows users to create the formats they need, on the fly. It eliminates the need to create, save, and manage multiple formats, and gives users access to the format they need, when they need it
  • Secure, with 24-7 access: DAM systems with configurable roles and permissions allow creative and IT teams to control the assets that internal and external users can access. This secure, self-service approach eliminates the need for a gatekeeper to manage file requests, and gives global teams access to what they need, when they need it

2020 has undoubtedly been a challenge for business leaders and their marketing teams. It has also illustrated the growing importance of agility. For many organisations, the ability to pivot and remain relevant has been the difference between survival and extinction. The challenge will continue well into 2021 – the exciting prospect for marketers is that they will continue to play a crucial role in helping their business thrive.

Photo by Cara Fuller on Unsplash

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