As 2021 concludes, there are many reasons for marketers to feel optimistic. Following an uncertain period, it looks as though marketing is regaining its strength as companies seize the opportunity to invest in their brands. According to the Q3 2021 IPA Bellwether Report, UK marketing budgets have increased at their strongest rate since 2017. In fact, this is the first time in three years that successive quarters of growth in marketing spend have been registered.

This increase in budgets flows across digital, video, and big-ticket media campaigns. Whilst this is welcome news, the report also acknowledges that although Q3 budget growth was strong, it nevertheless fell short of growth initially projected for the 2021/22 financial year. Issues such as the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19, the impact of supply chain issues on production and product availability weighed on marketers.

However, the future looks encouraging for brands, with leaders more optimistic about business since 2015 and 48% of firms expecting stronger growth than in the three months prior. As brands navigate post-pandemic challenges, they are in a favourable position to use analytics gleaned from increasingly digital consumers to optimise their marketing spend.

Moving into 2022, the marketers that integrate creativity, analytics and purpose — the ‘growth triple play’ — will be most positively placed to see their growth rates increase.

Defining and understanding the growth triple play

an image showing a group of young people discussing the growth triple play.

Creativity has always been a driver of modern marketing, especially the ability to surprise and elicit emotional reactions. More recently, analytics joined this mix, amplifying the power of creativity by providing data-informed insights to help fine-tune the stories told and messages relayed.

The speed and granularity delivered by analytics are far more powerful when integrated with innovative, breakthrough creative ideas. Now, purpose joins this formidable duo to elevate growth further, serving as the anchor for marketers to determine which insights matter most and to focus their efforts there.

The elements of the growth triple play — creativity, analytics, and purpose — are mutually reinforcing. When combined, they provide a special formula delivering a superior customer experience. Indeed, the companies that integrate creativity, analytics, and purpose actively deliver at least double the growth of their peers.

In addition, those who successfully integrate all three elements are 1.8 times more likely to be in the top quartile of growth within their sectors. It’s important to understand how and why these elements work together to create a winning combination for marketers.

Digital consumers inform data-led insights

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke in 2020, companies around the world pivoted towards e-commerce. Incentivised by the newly homebound consumer, businesses moved swiftly to stay open by reimagining their services and offerings within the online space. As a result, US e-commerce sales doubled from 16% in the previous year to 35% in 2020. This is estimated to have been the equivalent of approximately 10 years’ worth of growth in just a few months.

an image showing a group of people discussing data led insights during a workshop.

For companies that navigated this pivot to online shopping successfully, e-commerce generated nearly 50% of their overall revenue for the year. It also appears to have staying power, as the increase in online penetration during the pandemic has remained upwards of 30% above pre-pandemic levels in the US alone.

This growth in the online activity created new opportunities for analytics. Greater insights into consumers’ wants, needs, habits and behaviours became available to marketers, supporting targeted spending. Brands can better allocate their budgets to the areas that truly move the needle with consumers, whilst whittling away budget from other areas of spend which prove ineffective.

But what about the role of purpose-driven marketing? This third element is the final ingredient in a winning recipe that can take growth to the next level.

The power of purpose

Socially conscious values have been in focus in recent years, and the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. Generating meaning for consumers requires an analytical, data-informed understanding of their wants, needs and core beliefs.

At a time when companies are generating massive quantities of data, purpose serves as the ‘anchor’ that allows marketers to determine which insights matter most to consumers. When combined, the three elements of the growth triple play can boost average growth rates by 2.3 times, as compared to companies that do not use any of the elements.

By linking purpose to the already-potent elements of creativity and data, marketing delivers real-time value throughout the entirety of the customer journey, enabling brands to deliver experiences that resonate more deeply with consumers. CMOs and marketers who weave purpose into the company culture can sculpt the product and brand portfolio, creating a recognisable, well-defined sense of mission for all company stakeholders. Crucially, purpose helps marketers make important decisions that will shape the long-term growth trajectory of the brand.

The once-in-a-generation opportunity for CMOs

The significant shift brought about by the pandemic has contributed to the strengthening of the position of  CMOs within organisations. In fact, 78% of CEOs now rely on CMOs to drive company growth.

Standing at the intersection of customer needs and organisational capabilities, the CMO is the CEO’s ‘go-to’ growth partner today, more so than ever before. Indeed, a strong relationship with the CEO is needed to unleash the full power of the growth triple play. Although all three elements of the growth triple play are available to most companies, only 7% of companies say they focus on all three in combination.

The companies that can successfully leverage creativity, analytics and purpose in their strategy see growth rates rise by more than 12%, compared to a growth rate increase by 7% experienced by companies using only two of the elements. That’s a cumulative increase of 67% in the growth rate for those who leverage the growth triple play, compared to companies that used just two of the elements in 2018-19. As we look ahead to 2022, companies will undoubtedly continue to navigate uncertain conditions.

Yet, even in volatile times, the companies that draw the full power of the growth triple play by employing expert use of creativity, analytics and purpose stand a greater chance in driving strong growth. Leveraging the growth triple play also empowers CMOs and marketers to carve out a greater role within the organisation, cementing marketing at the heart of the company’s strategic decision making. In doing so, marketers will not only elevate the company’s profile, but also their own, whilst creating a lasting impact in the process.

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