Report: What’s driving your business decisions?
Editorial

Report: What’s driving your business decisions?

Nearly half of business decision makers do not believe their company has a strategic vision, according to new data from CIM and Arlington Research. This is worrying news for organisations looking to bounce back post Covid-19

As businesses and their marketing teams across the world look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and prosper in the coming year, there is no doubt many companies will lose the fight. Almost daily there are news reports of businesses making redundancies or reporting record losses. Blue-chip brands previously thought untouchable, such as Rolls-Royce, have reported record losses with the firm announcing a pre-tax loss of £5.4bn for the first half of 2020.

More than any time in recent history, businesses and organisations of all sizes need to be equipped with insights to help them plan and make the right decisions. Only with the right data can businesses adapt and innovate to ensure their survival and growth, and insight regularly falls to the marketing department. As a result, marketing has a key role to play in helping businesses thrive, while also cementing its position as an indispensable tool of the C-Suite. So, why do so many businesses struggle to turn a profit?

If you set off on a journey without knowing where you were headed or the best route to get from A to B, how confident are you that you’d get to where you’re going safely, in a timely manner, and without running out of fuel? It might seem like a daft question, but many brands are currently trying to navigate their way out of a global pandemic without a clear, considered plan based on insight. So, what’s driving their decisions, or who? And are staff on board?

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Arlington Research partnered to address this very issue, find out what was driving business decisions and reaffirm marketing’s role advising the board. We spoke to 4,000 employees (including 1,000 decision-makers) across the UK, US, Germany and Australia, and the results were concerning. Nearly half (49%) felt their company did not have a strategic vision in place to deal with the fallout of Covid-19.

While yes, these are ‘unprecedented times’, we can’t lose sight of the fact that in order to ride out the storm, businesses need a strategic vision which has been created using insight, not gut reaction. What worked last year, or trends observed for the past few years, can’t be relied upon this year. The world has unquestionably changed. Yet, our study shows six in ten (59%) believe board-level decisions are being made without truly understanding the needs of customers.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that over three-quarters (76%) of respondents said their organisation does survey its customers. A critical part of any strategy is knowing what the problem is. Where this falls down is the lack of adequate processes in place to utilise the insight captured. Our report found this applied to over three-quarters of the businesses surveyed, as only 24% of respondents felt there were adequate processes in place.

A question which provoked a big difference between decision-makers and employees was whether an organisation knew exactly who its competitors were. Overall, 81% of decision makers felt they did when compared to 64% of employees. Put simply, employees aren’t convinced their company knows who the competition is now.

This clear disconnect internally was seen throughout our study. Insight is not being shared appropriately and staff are not convinced by how decisions are being made.

We found that only 59% of employees said they receive regular communication from management about business performance. This might explain why only half (52%) of decision makers believe their organisation’s business strategy will be effective and this falls to a third (36%) when you look at the responses of employees. It is clear employees don’t believe their company is getting it right.

As so correctly observed by CIM’s, chief executive Chris Daly: “How can a company hope to implement any worthwhile tactics if the strategy and thinking behind it hasn’t been adequately communicated to employees? If your team isn’t clear on how a strategy has been created and what it’s based on, you run the risk of them not being 100% behind the approach.

“Once you have a robust strategy backed up with insight and data, you are only part of the way there. Now you need your staff to implement the plan and deploy the appropriate tactics,” continued Daly. “Winning hearts and minds is key. Only when your staff understand the thinking behind key decisions will they really put their heart and soul into it, making it a success.”

Understanding the importance of your customers’ needs, your competition and successfully communicating the plan is key for any business to survive and thrive. The worry from our research is the number of businesses who are blindly focusing on specific tactics and approaches, regardless of insight.

How can you consider implementing a strategy if you don’t fully understand the problem you’re trying to solve? Once you have a strategy however, you are only part of the way there. Now you need your team to implement the tactics.

Marketing departments worldwide now have a chance to influence their business in a huge way, to come into their own and be the driving force needed to safely navigate this journey we’re on. But you can’t agree the route unless you know where you are going. Diagnose the problem, build a strategy, create meaningful tactics and you’ll soon reach your destination, regardless of the circumstances faced along the way.

Further findings from the report are available via the market research blog while CIM members can download the full report, ‘What’s driving your business decisions?’ via MyCIM. To find out more about how Arlington Research can help bring your story to life, visit arlingtonresearch.global.

Looking to lead in your organisation over the next twelve months? Our Strategic Leadership for Marketers virtual training course will help to build your confidence and capability to take the next step.

James Delves Head of PR and engagement CIM
Paul Stallard Managing director Arlington Research
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