NatWest CMO: Speak the language of business or you’re in trouble

Brands that have invested in their long-term health during the pandemic will thrive, but marketers need to better link the case for investment to business outcomes if they are going to secure funds, says NatWest Group CMO Margaret Jobling.

NatWestThe companies that have invested in building their brands and the relevance of their products will come out of the pandemic stronger, according to NatWest Group CMO Margaret Jobling.

Speaking on a recent panel hosted by consultancy and Marketing Week’s sister brand Oystercatchers on the key to growth in 2021, Jobling said the case for investment in brand during economic downturns is clear. Group head of effectiveness at Adam&EveDDB Les Binet and effectiveness expert Peter Field are among those who have warned brands against going dark but Jobling noted budget will only be made available if you communicate the business outcomes of investing in marcomms.

“The brands that invest and are relevant will come out stronger for it. The question is, ‘How do we build plans that allow us to do that? And get the right balance between short and long term?’ Every bit of evidence says invest in the long term, invest in building the brand and actually your short term works harder, so the tension for me internally is always we have got to be thinking about delivering for today, but investing for tomorrow. That’s the boardroom conversation” Jobling explains.

“If you can articulate the pound outcome that’s an easy conversation to have, but without that measurement you will really struggle and that’s been my experience in my career.”

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This ability is not only necessary to secure investment in brands, but also to ensure the credibility of marketing and marketers.

“As a marketer unless you can talk the language of the business and articulate where the money you are spending is showing up you’re in trouble, because you’re the colouring in department in the corner and that view is still alive and kicking in lots of businesses,” she states.

Marketers must be flexible in the current environment, Jobling added, but it remains important to be clear on what your purpose is and stay focused on delivering it.

“You need to be much more fleet of foot. Gone are the days when you have a 12-month plan and stick to it. You can have every intention of what your outcome needs to be, but you need to be plugged into changes in dynamics and be prepared to pivot quickly around messages. That comes from staying really close to what’s going on in the market and have the flexibility in terms of how you’re spending and shift it quickly between channels,” Jobling advises.

“Always have that north star, though. What do we stand for and what do we want to be about? How do we keep investing in that and make sure everything you do is in service of that? It’s very easy, we love shiny new toys, but actually you need to be really clear on what you stand for. Then the way you should be delivering your plans is to deliver that and reinforce that.”