Sales and Marketing Training

How Marketers Are Managing Risk

There’s not a day that goes by that we’re not assisting our clients to manage risk. Even in our own company, we’re currently balancing the risks and rewards of an integration we’ve recently completed.

  • Do we invest in the productization of the tool and take it to market?
  • Or do we apply those resources to the continued growth of our current offerings?

These are difficult decisions given finite resources and the current momentum we have. We don’t want to miss the opportunity that is presented to us to grow our business… but we also can’t put our cashflow and current clients at risk. Not to mention the lack of confidence we’re seeing in the overall economy!

People, Processes, and Platforms

The successful management of marketing risk involves the intersection of people, processes, and platforms. Each of these elements plays a crucial role in identifying, evaluating, and mitigating potential risks associated with marketing efforts. Understanding the interdependencies among these elements can lead to a more effective approach to managing marketing risk.

  1. People: The talent within your marketing team and external partners, including their skills, experience, and expertise, significantly impacts your ability to identify and address potential risks. A diverse and knowledgeable team can bring different perspectives to the table, enabling more comprehensive risk assessments and better-informed decision-making. Strong leadership and effective communication among team members and across departments are also essential in fostering a culture of risk awareness and proactive risk management.
  2. Processes: Establishing systematic processes for risk management is vital to ensure a consistent and structured approach to identifying, evaluating, and addressing risks. These processes may include regular risk assessments, monitoring of key performance indicators, and ongoing analysis of market trends and competitor activities. By implementing well-defined processes, your organization can create a framework for continuous improvement and adaptation in response to emerging risks or changing market conditions.
  3. Platforms: The platforms and tools used in your marketing efforts can also play a significant role in managing marketing risk. Utilizing data-driven platforms for marketing analytics, customer insights, and performance measurement can help identify potential risks and opportunities more effectively. In addition, marketing automation platforms can help streamline marketing processes, reducing the likelihood of errors and ensuring a more consistent approach to risk management. Integrating these platforms with other business systems, such as CRM or ERP systems, can further enhance risk management by providing a comprehensive view of your organization’s performance and potential vulnerabilities.

By effectively integrating people, processes, and platforms, your organization can create a robust risk management strategy that proactively addresses potential risks and capitalizes on emerging opportunities. This approach can help minimize the negative impact of marketing risks on your business and maximize the chances of achieving your marketing goals.

Risk Factors In Marketing

For marketers, there are countless factors that can influence the success or failure of a marketing strategy beyond timing, economic variables, and the competitive landscape. Some of these factors include:

  1. Talent: The skills, experience, and expertise of your marketing team can significantly impact the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
  2. Timing: the strategic positioning of your marketing efforts in relation to market trends, consumer behavior, and product lifecycle. Effective timing can provide a competitive advantage by capitalizing on opportunities, such as product launches, seasonal trends, or market shifts.
  3. Technology: Do we have the right technology that can help us execute, automate, report on, and optimize our marketing strategies? Are there development or third-party investments we can make that would increase our likelihood of success?
  4. Economy: Factors that influence the overall economic environment, including inflation, interest rates, consumer confidence, and economic growth. These variables can directly impact consumer purchasing power and behavior, making them essential considerations when developing a marketing strategy.
  5. Competition: Competitors can influence your marketing strategy by offering similar products or services, targeting the same audience, or occupying the same marketing channels. A thorough understanding of your competition can help you identify opportunities for differentiation, develop unique value propositions, and anticipate potential competitive threats.
  6. Target audience: A well-defined target audience is critical for the success of any marketing strategy. Misunderstanding or overlooking the needs, preferences, and behaviors of your target audience can lead to ineffective marketing efforts.
  7. Value proposition: The value proposition is the unique combination of features, benefits, and pricing that differentiates your product or service from competitors. A weak or unclear value proposition can make it difficult for your marketing efforts to resonate with your target audience.
  8. Marketing channels: Choosing the right marketing channels to reach your target audience is crucial. The success of your marketing strategy can be influenced by the effectiveness of the channels you use, such as social media, email, content marketing, or paid advertising.
  9. Message and creative execution: The messaging and creative execution of your marketing materials should resonate with your target audience and effectively communicate your value proposition. Poor messaging or unappealing visuals can lead to a lack of engagement or interest from potential customers.
  10. Budget and resource allocation: Having an adequate budget and properly allocating resources is essential for the success of your marketing strategy. Insufficient funding or mismanagement of resources can hinder the execution and impact of your marketing efforts.
  11. Brand consistency: A successful marketing strategy requires the integration and consistency of messaging and branding across all marketing channels. Inconsistency or disjointed marketing efforts can confuse your target audience and dilute your brand message.
  12. Analytics and measurement: The ability to measure and analyze the performance of your marketing efforts is crucial for identifying what works and what doesn’t. A lack of proper analytics and measurement can make it difficult to optimize your marketing strategy and achieve desired results.
  13. Adaptability and agility: The ability to adapt and evolve your marketing strategy in response to market changes, emerging trends, or new insights is essential for long-term success. Rigid or outdated marketing strategies can lead to a decline in effectiveness and results.
  14. Organizational alignment: The success of a marketing strategy can be influenced by the level of support and collaboration from other departments within your organization. A lack of alignment between marketing and other functions, such as sales or product development, can hinder the overall effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
  15. External factors: Factors outside your control, such as regulatory changes, technological advancements, or socio-cultural shifts, can also impact the success or failure of your marketing strategy. Being aware of these factors and adapting your strategy accordingly is essential to remain competitive and relevant.

Yikes… that’s no small list. But it’s one that marketers are faced with every day to improve the business results our clients are getting and to maximize their investment in our consulting and their platform licensing.

Risk Mitigation

Evaluating a technology or new medium for marketing can be a delicate balance between taking advantage of potential opportunities and mitigating risks associated with potential failure. Here are some steps to consider when evaluating adoption:

  1. Research and due diligence: Start by researching the technology or medium thoroughly. Understand its features, capabilities, benefits, and limitations. Investigate the company behind the technology, its track record, funding, and market reputation. Align your internal resources (budget, talent, timeline) with the technology to ensure it’s a fit for your organization.
  2. Identify your objectives: Define your marketing objectives and consider how the new technology or medium can help you achieve those goals. Determine if the technology aligns with your target audience, industry trends, and overall marketing strategy.
  3. Assess the competitive landscape: Look at how your competitors are using (or not using) the technology or medium. If they’re already adopting it, consider whether you can differentiate yourself or offer a better solution. If not, evaluate the potential first-mover advantage.
  4. Pilot and test: Before fully committing, run pilot projects or small-scale tests to validate the technology’s effectiveness and its fit within your marketing strategy. This will help you understand its potential impact on your target audience and refine your approach.
  5. Calculate the ROI: Analyze the potential return on investment (ROI) of adopting the technology, including cost savings, increased reach, and improved conversion rates. Compare the potential ROI with the risks associated with the technology failing.
  6. Develop a contingency plan: Prepare a plan for how you will manage the situation if the technology fails or doesn’t deliver the expected results. This could include alternative marketing strategies, reallocating resources, or pivoting to a different technology.
  7. Monitor and adapt: Continuously monitor the technology’s performance, user feedback, and market trends. Be ready to adapt your marketing strategy if the technology doesn’t meet expectations or if new opportunities arise.
  8. Start small and scale up: If the technology proves to be successful, gradually increase your investment in it. This way, you can minimize your risk while taking advantage of the benefits it provides.

By following these steps, you can carefully evaluate the adoption of a technology or new medium for marketing while minimizing the risks associated with potential failure.

Risk Frameworks

There are several frameworks that marketing professionals can use to evaluate, manage, and overcome risks associated with their digital marketing strategies. Here are some of the most popular and effective frameworks:

  1. SWOT Analysis: The SWOT framework helps marketers analyze their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying these factors, marketing professionals can understand the risks associated with their strategies and make informed decisions.
  2. TOWS Matrix: The TOWS matrix is an extension of SWOT analysis that focuses on developing strategies by matching strengths and weaknesses with opportunities and threats. This framework allows marketers to explore different strategic options and manage risks more effectively.
  3. PESTLE Analysis: PESTLE stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental factors. This framework helps marketers evaluate external factors that can impact their digital marketing strategies and identify potential risks.
  4. Risk Matrix: A risk matrix is a graphical tool used to assess the likelihood and impact of potential risks. It helps marketers visualize and prioritize risks based on their severity, enabling them to manage and mitigate them effectively.
  5. OODA Loop: The OODA framework stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, and enables marketers to continuously monitor their digital marketing strategies, identify risks, and make adjustments in real-time.
  6. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis: FMEA is a systematic process used to identify potential failures in a system, product, or process and assess their consequences. In digital marketing, FMEA can be used to evaluate the potential risks and their impact on the overall marketing strategy.
  7. Scenario Planning: Scenario planning involves creating different future scenarios and analyzing their potential impact on digital marketing strategies. This approach helps marketing professionals anticipate potential risks and develop contingency plans.

By using these frameworks, marketing professionals can better evaluate, manage, and overcome risks in their digital marketing strategies. Additionally, it’s essential to continually monitor and adjust strategies based on new insights, data, and changes in the market.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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