The move to the hybrid model has not been easy for some organizations. Over the past two years, marketers have had to change their strategies and adapt to the key trends taking over.
Have the core trends of marketing changed during this period? How have marketers adapted to these new working conditions and in what way have their roles changed?
With Peter Stojanovic moderating, the speakers of this roundtable debate include:
- Mehul Kapadia, Chief Growth Officer, Locus
- Peter Thomas, Managing Director, Integrated Marketing, Accenture
- Scott Allen, WW Regional Marketing & Services Leader, Microsoft
- Sumi Shukla, VP Global Partner & EMEA Marketing, Riverbed
Core principles of marketing
Moderator Peter Stojanovic commenced the debate by asking the panelists whether or not the core principles of marketing have changed over the past two years.
Peter Thomas, Managing Director of Integrated Marketing at Accenture, doesn’t believe the core principles of marketing have changed. He argued that all the principles marketers follow when delivering a message to their audience will always be at the core of a strong marketing plan.
“The ‘what’ is pretty consistent, the ‘how’ we do many of those things”, he said. How marketers identify audiences and connect with them has required some “tweaking” to make them more appropriate. Overall, he concluded that the core principles have remained the same.
Microsoft’s WW Regional Marketing & Services Leader Scott Allen builds on Peter’s point. He stated: “We’ve all got to face the fact that we’re in a hybrid paradox. We’re hearing things like ‘I want flexibility without compromising collaboration part of an inclusive culture without the constraints of location’”. He explained that people don’t want to go into the office as much as before and commute less.
Drawing from his experience, he stated that marketing has always been a continuous evolution for him in terms of re-transforming. Transformation, according to Scott, has been “front and center”. Due to the pandemic some organizations have had to accelerate their transformation and act faster or then get left behind.
“Knowing your market, engaging with your customers, engaging with your prospects, knowing why your brand exists, your purpose. These principles have remained”, said Riverbed’s VP of Global Partner & EMEA Marketing, Sumi Shukla. While principles have remained consistent, marketing tactics have had to adapt as customers move to a more hybrid world.
Key marketing trends in the hybrid world
Sumi points out that one of the key trends for marketers as they adapt to a hybrid world is the rise of online events. Linking to this, she added: “One of the key trends that’s really emerged as we’ve really embraced this hybrid model is the emergence of the power of communities for our buyers”. Sumi explained that marketers are now discovering that these online communities produce organic conversations. Her main concern, as a representative of Riverbed, is finding out how to discreetly insert herself into those conversations.
With Sumi focusing on online communities, Chief Growth Officer at Locus, Mehul Kapadia suggests that other hybrid trends are emerging.
“What I feel is that the opportunity for marketing to be a disruption has actually accelerated now”, he said. In this developing hybrid world, he believes that marketers should take advantage of the opportunity presented to them. Irrespective of the budget and resource power, he wants marketers to “shine” and create disruption. He identified this as one of the fundamental shifts that occurred during the pandemic.
Circling back to the rise in online events, Scott pinpointed another trend he observed as a result of the shift to hybrid events.
“The other thing we see during the move to digital events is, events become boundaryless”, he argued. Scott offered the example of Microsoft’s French office running an event in French while people attended from countries including Belgium and Canada and Africa. He stated that a lot of marketers will only run events for a particular subsidiary or area they are focused on. To avoid this, he suggested they reexamine their strategy, change their mindset and prioritize customer experience.
Changes in the marketing role
The shift to the hybrid world is said to have made a number of changes in the role of marketers today.
Looking from a leadership perspective, Sumi described how she had to become more engaged with her team as they went into the hybrid model. “I lead a field marketing team across EMEAR and it has been, traditionally, very events-centric and local campaigns-orientated”, she said. The pandemic forced the team to “pivot” and quickly learn more about digital marketing and other aspects that were unfamiliar territory before.
Peter noted that one of the biggest changes is how marketing leaders manage diverse spread-out teams on a hybrid basis.
“You can have meetings now with half the team in the meeting room and half the team dialing in”, he said. Peter’s concerns were centered around ensuring equality in that environment, and making sure that everyone gets a fair share of time, attention, coaching and development.