By Jenni Baker, journalist

April 20, 2022 | 4 min read

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For marketers to strive in the current landscape they need to be clear on their priorities, be ruthless in their decision making and “ask for forgiveness, not permission” according to Dan Sherwood, marketing director at Santander.

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It's critical to reclaim your focus if marketing is to deliver efficient and tangible ROI

Sherwood was in conversation with Nina Holdaway, managing director, Accenture UKI as part of Accenture’s ’The Great Marketing Declutter’ video series with The Drum, based on research that identified three distinct groups of marketers: the survivors, the strivers, and the thrivers.

To be a thriver, it comes down to the mentality about change. What sets them apart is their ability to cut through complexity and their resilience in the face of change – they look for ways to work smarter, to find mechanisms to better listen to customers, and they challenge complexity across the marketing function to help empower and enthuse their teams to do brilliant work.

It’s about having “an innate optimism about change, resilience to drive change and the energy to package that – looking to chase change, rather than letting change chase them,” says Sherwood.

Watch part three ‘The Great Marketing Declutter: reclaiming your focus like a true thriver’ above.

Thrivers are on the ball. For example, Accenture’s research found that 50% more of the thrivers had already invested well ahead of time in the technology needed to understand their customers.

Sherwood goes on to explain how Santander has been “getting back to basics” with its customer strategy – instead of disappearing down rabbit holes in terms of micro-targeting and forgetting the basics that matter. It has done that by implementing tools and strategies that simplify the brand’s understanding of who the customer is, who it wants them to be, and what they want.

“We’ve become much more single minded about purpose, by focusing on the customers who matter. You can never really declutter until you focus on what you want the marketing function to be – what capabilities we want to have and how we go about building them – to deliver greater value for the organization. Be clear about your priorities and be ruthless about what you will do.”

He discusses how new workflow tools are helping to simplify processes while extracting customer feedback out of every touchpoint, and how that requires integration into the company culture and ways of working.

Having an opportunistic mindset as opposed to a defensive one is key. The strength of thrivers lies in adopting an optimistic outlook, with 59% saying their marketing organization is stronger now compared to last year because they’ve been pushed to think about marketing differently.

He concludes with three key pieces of advice on how marketers can be a thriver:

  1. Ask for forgiveness, not permission – that can come with a risk, but it’s difficult to drive change without that mentality

  2. Be ruthless with prioritization – focus on fewer, bigger, better with the things you do well

  3. Energize your team to tackle processes head on – create the headspace outside the sphere of influence to attack and reduce the complexity that drains creative energy

Watch part one and part two of ‘The Great Marketing Declutter' now.

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