How to lead with insight and lead with digital


Whatever state of normalcy the economy emerges in when this period of uncertainty is behind us, digital is essential for communication and distribution. It’s a shift in mindset that we can’t come back from – and neither should we.

The recruitment market is naturally a reflection of this. Earlier this year, e-commerce, digital content, social media, and digital marketing all made it into LinkedIn’s top 10 fastest growing job categories.

However, while hiring digital specialists may seem like a necessary short-term decision for the survival of the business, without also investing in the leadership necessary to generate value from digital, the results will undoubtedly be limited.

Digital is a channel that thrives because of its proximity to the customer and its agility to adapt to ever-changing business needs and requirements. For these reasons and more, it was naturally on the minds of organizations during the pandemic as a tactical tool for engagement. But its scope can and should be broader – not just as a core competency of any marketing strategy, but of any business strategy, guided by the marketing knowledge of its application and its value.

Invest to innovate

Empowering marketers to become the leaders of the change necessary to place digital at the heart of their organizations must therefore be a priority. Businesses will need to invest beyond technology-driven digital capabilities and into marketing leaders who have the insight and understanding that is crucial for digital marketing to drive business growth and innovation.

Ultimately, the pandemic has shown us more than anything that strategic innovation is key. Many businesses might not have survived the past year without product and process innovations that have been pioneered by marketers around the world. Digital has played a pivotal role in bringing these innovations to fruition, to be sure, but the creative ingenuity required to create them is a direct result of marketing insight and strategic thinking. This is essentially what marketing is: innovation rather than simple differentiation.

More than ever in recent history, companies need to be able to plan effectively, which is only possible through the use of meaningful data and information provided by the marketing department. Marketing therefore has a key role to play in helping businesses thrive, while consolidating its position as an indispensable tool at the highest levels.

However, to innovate and generate insight, marketing must receive investment. It goes beyond planning the progression for aspiring traders; learning and development must be accessible and involved at every stage of a marketer’s career. Worryingly, between 42% and 62% of marketers over 45 – who may lead services or develop strategies – have not received any training in the past two years (CIM Impact of Marketing 2 report). Meanwhile, marketers want to grow – a recent study by Hays showed that 42% of marketers plan to make skill changes and prioritize development in their current profession. In addition, 45% indicated that the lack of career development opportunities was one of the main reasons for job dissatisfaction in their current role.

With an understanding of the various challenges present in today’s business environment, ICM’s Marketing Leadership Program empowers executives to strengthen their strategic skills. The strong program, which is the level equivalent to a master’s qualification, empowers marketers to become influential change leaders ready to deliver tangible results.

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Image credit: Gremlin via Getty Images

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