Get match-fit to face a year of uncertainty

One of the 20th century’s foremost scientists, Niels Bohr, said of forecasting: “Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future.”

Predictions are ten a penny, and columns and pages are filled with them at New Year. Marketing Week is not going to duck the trend, although we are ceding the stage to marketers in our cover feature. And as you’ll see, marketers have differing opinions on what this year holds.

Predictions can help focus your thinking on strategy, contingency plans and allocation of resources. But they can also be wildly wrong. Just look at how economic forecasters have fared over the past three years.

What’s more important for marketers is to be match-fit for the challenges of the coming year and to make relevant New Year’s resolutions, such as promising to make a better effort in convincing board directors and other department chiefs of the value of marketing to the business.

“Implementing planned change, alongside handling unforeseen change, will take a great deal of your time and this is where true leadership is demonstrated”

The marketers we interviewed outline how they are preparing for a tough year and where they are focusing their attention. Taking their lead, questions worth contemplating, in no particular order, include: Are you making proper use of the data undoubtedly pouring in from numerous sources? Is your website formatted for all smartphones and digital devices? Do you have social media monitoring tools in place and a strategy for dealing with negative comment? Is your corporate social responsibility strategy understood by all departments? Have you “walked the floor” lately to get a real feel for the business or to observe customers in action? Do you know what your competitors are doing? Most importantly, have you got the buy-in of your team and do they understand your vision?

If we allow ourselves to make one safe prediction, it is that 2011 will be a year of change. Implementing planned change, alongside handling unsettling, unnerving and unforeseen change, will take a great deal of your time – and this is where true leadership is demonstrated. The ability to effect change from within, overcoming all those barriers that keep the status quo in place, and to respond positively to change in a way that identifies business opportunities will test every marketer’s mettle.

Good luck and happy New Year, and – be assured – Marketing Week will be journeying alongside, providing advice, examples and case studies from some of the industry’s brightest and best.

Branwell Johnson, associate editor

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