Maximizing profits for shareholders or owners of organizations is one of the main goals of every business from time immemorial. Yet, in an attempt to achieve this goal, companies still do not lose sight of another equally important goal, long-term growth. While growth is easy to envisage, achieving it has never been an easy task for any business due to several challenges that come along with the business cycle of economies where businesses operate in addition to company-specific constraints. More importantly, achieving the desired growth in the 21st century is much more difficult due to fierce competition from rivals, as a result of globalization, and this has been complicated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite its negative impacts on businesses, COVID-19 has created several opportunities within the business environment. Within a span of a few months, a decade’s worth of e-commerce adoption took place as the pandemic raged, leading to many new, digital-first market places. For now, it is clear that only companies that are ready to leverage innovation, digitization and above all creativity and purpose will thrive within “the new normal”.
Historically, driving the growth of a company was seen as the main duty of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), even though the role of employees has never been underestimated. However, the historic shifts brought on by the pandemic has also fundamentally changed the role of marketing leadership and the chief marketing officer (CMO). According to McKinsey’s new research, 78 percent of CEOs are now banking on marketing leaders to drive growth during the pandemic. This has totally changed the dynamics of the game, making innovative marketing the hallmark of every successful company.
In the current research, McKinsey found three elements that are currently driving growth across the globe, “growth triple play”. This include creativity, analytics, and purpose. Overall, McKinsey’s research shows that companies that integrate creativity, analytics, and purpose are delivering at least two times the growth of their peers. Yet, only 7 percent of companies are delivering on the “growth triple play” by unifying creativity, analytics, and purpose. For such companies, their average revenue growth between 2018 and 2019 was 2.3 times higher than companies that do not adopt the “growth triple play”. The effect is 2.7 times higher between 2019 and 2020.
Even before the pandemic, companies that had developed all three capabilities were logging double the growth of their industry peers, a margin that only increased once the COVID-19 crisis hit. Between 2018 and 2019, companies using just one of the capabilities, either creativity, analytics, or purpose, saw an average growth rate of more than 6 percent. Meanwhile, adding a second component saw growth rates climb to more than 7 percent and for those that employed the full triple play, growth rates climbed to more than 12 percent.
The Growth Triple Play
McKinsey highlighted the interconnection between the key elements of the triple play, saying the elements of the triple play turn out to be mutually reinforcing. According to McKinsey, the speed and granularity delivered by analytics is far more powerful when integrated with innovative, breakthrough creative ideas and programs. Both resonate with customers in a deeper way when they are connected to purpose. Triple-play companies that have learned to integrate all three elements are 1.8 times more likely to be in the top quartile of growth within their sectors, says McKinsey.
Moreover, McKinsey insists that the last revolution in marketing was all about the fusion of creativity and data analytics. However, the only new thing today is partly the addition of purpose, the statement of a goal higher than just ringing up the next transaction. Purpose, according to Ann Mukherjee, CEO North America at Pernod Ricard, can vary widely, as long as it is true to what the brand ultimately stands for.
Purpose could be about fun. Purpose could be about indulgence. Purpose could be about being a rebel. Purpose could be about saving the world. But purpose must be intrinsic to what the brand’s narrative is
”- Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO North America - Pernod Ricard
McKinsey outlined specific steps taken by companies to activate the triple play across the full sweep of their marketing practice, emphasizing that the triple play is not a theoretical exercise but very workable and practical, with proven positive results.
Infuse Creativity With Analytics
Companies that benefit tremendously from the triple play are those that are able to infuse creativity with analytics. Creativity is part of the genesis of marketing and the breakthrough ideas that have always underpinned bold, imaginative campaigns.
Creativity starts by thinking and dreaming big, by opening the aperture to new ideas and approaches to delight customers. Placing the customer at the center and forefront is key to the discipline of creativity. Triple-play companies take more than a 360-degree view of their customers.
Moreover, creativity is what gives rise to new campaigns, new products, innovative ways to serve consumers, and more. McKinsey believes the addition of granular data and analytics can unleash creativity more effectively to drive deeply personalized customer interactions using iterative, test-and-learn approaches. By using marketing sensors to monitor changes in consumer behavior, analytics helps marketers make decisions faster.
Deploy Analytics With Purpose
Another important feature of such companies is their ability to deploy analytics with purpose. Creating moments that are meaningful for customers requires analytical horsepower and precision to discover customer intentions, interests, and unmet needs. Recently, companies are generating massive quantities of data and so it’s purpose that will aid marketers to determine which insights matter most and to focus their efforts there. To this end, triple-play companies prioritize flexibility in their analytics and data architecture to not only co-create strategy with the C-suite but also to share those insights across the organization.
Focus On The Purpose
Moreover, to benefit more from the triple play, the marketing officer must always focus on the company’s purpose. Purpose, according to McKinsey, acts as a North Star, guiding the overall direction as CMOs and marketers make crucial decisions that shape long-term growth. Linking purpose to creativity and analytics helps companies recognize the opportunities that are going to resonate most deeply with customers.
McKinsey explained that CMOs and marketers must understand the power of purpose and weave it into the culture, creating a recognizable sense of mission for customers, employees, prospective employees, and other stakeholders. Therefore, marketing officers must be clear on what purpose of their organizations are so as to help drive its growth.
Winning In The Next-Normal World
Marketing leaders have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead, shape, and drive the growth agenda. Luckily, they can take advantage of this opportunity by integrating creativity, analytics, and purpose across the full spectrum of marketing activities. Already, the most successful CMOs are deftly using the precision and rigor of analytics to anticipate and satisfy customer needs, guided by purpose and energized with creative approaches.
However, winning in this next-normal world means orchestrating functions, across the organization and partnerships in the extended ecosystem, based on a richer understanding of customer wants and needs.
For now, as CEOs are increasingly depending on their marketing leaders to deliver growth, the most successful marketers will definitely be those that are willing to make fundamental changes to position themselves and their organizations to thrive post-COVID.
In line with this, McKinsey highlighted three important things that these CMOs must do to post-COVID: lead from the front as a unifier; inspire a better outcome with purpose; and fire up the full growth triple play.
Most CMOs can achieve the first two but, for the last, McKinsey admits it’s very difficult for a company to be able to deploy the full growth triple play. It is therefore, not surprising that only that only 7 percent of companies have been able to deploy the full growth triple play. McKinsey explained that only those that have developed the necessary capabilities are able to integrate creativity, analytics, and purpose.
Make the triple play core to company culture. Creativity is so fundamental to the marketing discipline, going back to its very roots, that every CMO and marketer should have a firm grip on the building blocks of visual representation, messaging, and media. But creativity also includes the ability to bring novel and disruptive new ideas to the surface, where those ideas can be refined, tested, and either scaled or discarded.
That last part, however, is heavily dependent on the strategic analytical muscle, especially the ability to collect proprietary data and use it to generate insights that can drive value. Purpose helps set the overall direction, ensuring that every product or service, no matter how disruptive or surprising, is true to the brand identity and recognizable as such by customers.
Seizing The Big Moment
Even in the most volatile of times, there are companies that are driving growth that is twice as high as their peers’ through creativity, analytics, and purpose, as per McKinsey’s research. As a result, by drawing on the full power of the growth triple play, CMOs and marketers can increase their odds of success, elevating their profile and their organization to new heights, and creating impact along the way.
For those that get it right, it can be the start of a new era where marketing is ascendant, and Marketing and the CMO is at the heart of decision-making. But to do so, McKinsey advised such companies to act on new ideas, rigorous data-bound execution, and an unerring sense of purpose at the core. The most resolute CMOs and marketers can rise above the chaos to lead the charge, inspiring their organization and their customers along the way.