The Deliberate Disruption Guide for Marketers To Navigate 2023


Marketing heads have been under tremendous pressure to meet various stakeholders’ expectations for the last few years. Further, there are several market-imposed disruptions. But Christine Crandell, president, New Business Strategies, believes marketers should also look for deliberate disruptions and lists a few strategies to navigate 2023 successfully. 

The past years have been challenging for heads of marketing. According to Harvard Business Review, the tenure has decreased from 44 months in 2017 to 28 months in 2022Opens a new window . According to CEOs, boards of Directors, and revenue leaders, marketing needs greater financial accountability. 

While this is not new, each year, the pressure heightens to meet customers, sales, CEOs, and the rest of the organization’s expectations. Expectations that often conflict with each other. 

The economic crisis experienced by technology, especially SaaS vendors, exacerbates these challenges. Long-held assumptions underpinning business decisions and investments are being reexamined. This is a good thing in the long run. In the short term, marketing will face budget pressures while they are expected to retool their growth and retention strategies.

There are two paths forward: Business as usual or deliberate disruption. The costs and risks associated with the first outweigh the perceived ‘pain’ of the latter. 

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2023 Is All About Deliberate Disruption

Market-imposed disruptions are extensions of prior years’ trends and dynamics. 2023 will bring increased velocity of change and frequency of ‘surprise’ events:

  • The continuing evolution of the buyer/buying team journeys and their expectations. 
  • Slowing revenue coupled with customers redefining what “value” means. 
  • Ongoing talent evolution redefining ‘work’ and ‘what we do for a living.’ 
  • Increasing global geopolitical instability, new supply chains, and rising nationalism. 

Deliberate self-initiated disruptions are where real game-changers occur.

Many marketing leaders are ready to hit the ‘reset’ button after years of fighting to keep a seat at the table, align themselves with Sales, optimize funnels to meet pipeline targets, preserve budgets, and ‘own’ customer experience in name only.    

They are frustrated and tired. 

It is impossible to achieve different results if we continue to do the same thing. Strategic deliberate disruption offers a path forward to achieving growth goals in the near and long term. 

It comes down to identifying what to disrupt intentionally. And it must include breaking the bullwhip-effect cycle marketers find themselves in from the frequent direction changes in response to internal and external pressures, opinions, and mandates.

Deliberate Disruption Strategies

1. Own the entire customer experience lifecycle

Today, the focus on growth and retention marketing is not enough for marketing to own the customer experience as a corporate-wide strategic imperative. 

 Owning the entire customer lifecycle means serving as the organization’s repository of deep, contextual buyer and customer research and analysis; leading the cross-functional implementation of CX as a competitive differentiator; educating the organization on engagement responsibilities and standards; and setting benchmarks and measuring results.  

 This disruption requires a new organization and talent matrix with depth in strategic planning, market research, and sophisticated analytics. Arguably a change that is long overdue for many organizations.

2. Transform customer-facing roles

Siloed sales, marketing, and customer service functions are constructs of a long-ago era. They negatively impact a company’s viability and are at the root of today’s stagnating growth, mind-boggling inefficiencies, and lackluster customer service. 

Silo-busting frees organizations to be nimbler, stand out in a crowded, dynamic market environment and build stronger, authentic relationships with customers, partners, and other stakeholders.  

Let us redesign the organization’s operating model around the customer and their experience expectations. This disrupts the fiefdoms of marketing, sales, and CS with one integrated team and a fresh look at processes, data, systems, skill matrixes, and culture. Whether the new operating model is self-organizing teams, adaptive organizations or something new, the benefits of disruption go beyond delighting customers. A more agile, responsive, sustainable, and profitable organization will emerge.

3. Elastic and hidden talent

Every organization’s challenge is skill set flexibility. On the one hand, employees provide stability and continuity. On the other hand, building new competencies takes longer than market opportunities permit. 

Instead of thinking about talent matrixes, start by clarifying which roles are truly critical. According to McKinseyOpens a new window , less than 5% of an organization’s roles account for delivering over 95% of an organization’s results. 

Think of roles and skills as inventory — where are flexibility and innovation critical to success, and where are stability and tribal knowledge essential to execution? Rapidly changing roles and skills should be staffed by contractors, partners, or other resources. Baseline programs, including media relations, won/lost, market research, and content creation, should be outsourced. These are easier to restructure as market and customer needs change. Deliberating disrupting talent balances flexibility and access to new, bleeding-edge expertise with cost, stability, and results.

Employees are vital assets — the best of the best — and should be charged with defining what ‘great’ means and accountable for delivering it. Recruiting talent should be more about the human. Their demonstrated results, ethics, credibility, risk appetite, EQ, passion, and self-initiated skill development should carry far more weight than the formulaic check boxes of degree, title, past employers, age, and keywords.

See More: How Technology Is Digitally Transforming Ad Operations

Start Stop Continue

What comes off and stays on the new “Marketing/Sales/CS” plate? That depends on how current activities are aligned with customer expectations and lifecycle journeys from the buyers’ perspective. 

Disruption does not mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Some traditional marketing responsibilities are critical to the growth and should remain, including media, community, and influencer relations; brand and creative; messaging and product marketing; customer advocacy and relations; and in/outbound marketing, to name a few. Where these sit in the new integrated organization depends on the proximity to their respective internal and external customers.

With shrinking tenure, many CMOs feel deliberate disruption is a risky path, personally. Considering that almost half of all CMO hires are intentionally externally sourced because the CEO is dissatisfied with marketing, the risks pale in comparison.  

Success depends on introducing change management, socializing, implementing, and measuring it. It is time for marketing to take control over its destiny instead of letting it happen. The move to eliminate the CMO and other roles and dismantle various marketing functions has been gaining steam since the late 2000s. 

We are at an inflection point. Deliberate disruption must be part of the CMO’s and C-Suite’s plan to navigate the year ahead successfully. 

What strategies do you have in place to navigate 2023 successfully? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

Image Source: Shutterstock


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