2023 Investment & Marketing Trends

Mixed economic signals, supply chain instability, turbulent employment trends and fluctuating markets worldwide are complicating the 2023 planning process and identification of marketing trend landscapes, however when you turn to data driven, research backed insights, you can start to see some key areas come to the surface. Here are the top five: 

  1. Prioritise investments that boost Customer Value
  2. More spending on technologies
  3. Diversify spending on new types of marketing
  4. Digital marketing continues to increase in importance
  5. Emphasis on social responsibility and reputation

In this issue we will focus on the top point which is all about prioritising investments that boost customer value. It’s true that the best way out of a downturn is to continue investing — but only if you pick the right areas. 

The 2023 Forrester planning guide advises us to prioritise investments that maximise revenue growth, profitability, and resilience which includes targeted and coordinated investments in technology, talent, and insights that help drive customer value and will accelerate differentiation coming out of the downturn. The top items to protect and ideally bolster in 2023 are:

Customer insights and engagement. 

2023 is unlikely to look like the 2020 lockdowns, leaving many assumptions about your customers and their behaviour useless. The advice is to invest in more relevant and reliable customer data to help sharpen your audience targeting strategy and shift budgets to higher-return tactics with proven financial value. Prioritise investments in normalising and augmenting data from different systems and sources as well as customer analytics and tools like experience research platforms that synthesise and accelerate customer research. Finally, recalibrate messaging to address new or evolving customer needs, focusing on post-sale experiences that drive loyalty, cross-sell, and upsell opportunities among your existing customers. 

Technologies that improve customer experience and reduce costs. 

Unlike the pandemic-induced need for tech for new digital experiences and work from anywhere, the current economic headwinds will demand more focus on tech tuned for optimization and resilience. For example, a cloud cost management and optimization tool can help wrangle escalating cloud spend. But this doesn’t mean you should turn your back on digital experience innovation. Keep pushing forward, but prioritise investments that also reduce operational costs. New technologies in managing process automation can bolster well-designed self-service experiences with smart escalations to live agents that drive loyalty. And they save money, as selfservice channels are less expensive than staffed ones.

Security. 

Cyberattacks and data breaches don’t pause with an economic slowdown — especially when geopolitical events and technology disruption continue to fuel a highly sophisticated threat landscape. Forrester research findings advise prioritisation of security solutions that protect customer-facing and revenue-generating workloads as well as any infrastructure critical to health and safety for industries like utilities, energy, and transportation. Defend investments that support cloud modernization. And make sure you’re able to respond when the inevitable attacks and breaches occur by investing in crisis simulation. We have just seen Optus experience a cyber attack compromising personal data of 9.8 million customers which is a stark reminder of the profound threat the cyber security breaches pose, including reputational risk and severe penalties.

Talent and productivity. 

One possible upside of an economic slowdown is a cool down of the white-hot talent market. But job-hopping — especially among digital talent — is here to stay, with the best employees expecting a competitive salary and benefits plus the tools and technology to allow them to work anywhere, anytime. 

Don’t pull back on the talent acquisition and retention improvements you put in place this year, but balance them with a renewed focus on productivity. Sales leaders, for example, should de-emphasise reliance on a few heroic reps or dramatic headcount increases; they should instead invest more significantly in scalable levers like integrated processes rooted in datadriven and actionable insights.

These areas can be seen as a summary in chart 1. 

The 2023 Forrester investment research report goes on to advise where to cut investments in 2023. Today’s economic climate will put pressure on budgets. Use this moment as an opportunity to cut spending in areas prone to waste. A shortlist of spending reduction opportunities are listed in chart 2. 

Despite the need for real cuts, don’t fall for the temptation to eliminate all experimentation, especially when it comes to emerging technology. These experiments — and the creative muscle they build — create and sustain competitive differentiation and justify further investment. The recommendation is to run small experiments in order to discover new opportunities without sacrificing precious budget dollars. Chart 3 highlights some examples of potential tools to trial.

Intentional experimentation — combined with diligent spending choices — will help businesses navigate volatility and strengthen their position long term. Though planning for 2023 will come with unique pressures, it is also an opportunity to sharpen focus, create differentiation, and enhance customer value.

Jo Katsos, Marketing Director, 
STIHL Australia