The Great Debate: Marketing Growth Frameworks

There are two schools of thought when it comes to marketing growth: purists who strongly believe in the traditional principles of brand building and pragmatic balancers who utilize a mix of modern marketing opportunities. That’s according to a new MMA Global report that explores marketers’ approaches to leading growth frameworks.

First up, the research shows that 65 percent of marketers claim to have clear alignment on their growth strategy while 83 percent of the very senior team and 50 percent of all other levels have very clear alignment on growth drivers.

Though greater familiarity with the frameworks indicates increased alignment in terms of growth strategy, not many marketers are familiar with more than one or two leading growth frameworks. For example, 80 percent of marketers are extremely familiar with at least one marketing growth framework while about 12 percent are familiar with at least five. In addition, 64 percent are familiar with one framework and 81 percent are familiar with five. Most are familiar with four (86 percent).

Though 65 percent of companies have very clear alignment about marketing growth drivers, only 25 percent of companies have achieved year-over-year growth over the last five years.

The two schools of thought MMA uncovered include the “go long and broad purists” and “pragmatic balancers.” The purists are primarily understood of very senior marketers (43 percent) with strong convictions that the primary drivers of growth include the traditional principles of brand building, reach and penetration. Forty-two percent of these purists have clear gaps in martech capabilities and 59 percent of them don’t believe that some customers are more valuable than others.

Balancers, on the other hand, are mostly mid-senior marketers (73 percent) who utilize modern marketing opportunities such as targeting and who choose to balance varying approaches without focusing on one unifying theory. Additionally, 51 percent of them have industry-leading, best-in-class martech capabilities. MMA notes that these schools of thought likely co-exist within the different ranks of the same companies.

While 22 percent of marketers maintain a narrow viewpoint on how to drive growth, the majority believe that “going broad” is the best approach (78 percent). More than half of marketers prefer to “go long” when it comes to driving growth while 15 percent prefer to “go short.” Thirty-one percent are more open to maintaining a balance between the two, 37 percent of which are from companies that were formed before the year 2000.

Marketers also can’t agree on whether all customers have the same value when it comes to growth. Forty-five percent believe that all customers actually do have the same value and that companies should focus on increasing penetration.

Twenty-two percent believe some customers have higher value but the effort of going after them isn’t justified. Thirty-three percent of marketers believe that some customers have much higher value and actually are worth the extra effort. These marketers feel that companies should focus their marketing on maximizing the lifetime value of these customers.

When asked their thoughts on driving return on investment (KING), marketers assign roughly equal value to media, creative, brand and targeting. Twenty-seven percent of marketers believe that brand equity is the most important driver of ROI, followed by strength of creative (26 percent), media allocation (24 percent) and targeting (23 percent). Creative occupies 49 percent of the total pie, followed by media (reach, targeting and regency) and brand.

Marketers told MMA that they allocate 80 percent of their budget to building long-term assets. Brand assets and customer assets hold roughly equal budget shares. Most budgets are leveraged for building and maintaining brand equity (26 percent), enhancing customer loyalty (21 percent), driving immediate performance (20 percent), improving experience and convenience across the customer journey (19 percent) and developing new products and services ( 15 percent).

When asked about the essence of branding, 56 percent of marketers cited establishing mental availability while 22 percent named building differentiation. Another 22 percent find value in balancing the two.

MMA also gauged respondents’ sentiment around loyalty programs and found that although they’re a key part of the marketing mix for most companies—especially among service and retail companies—31 percent believe they’re a waste of time and resources.

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