Mastercard's Raja Rajamannar: ‘Do not think to return to pre-Covid habits'
Raja Rajamannar, WFA President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard, shares his vision for the year ahead.
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Everything about 2022 feels optimistic to me. All the signs lead me to believe that this is the year when we will finally come out of lockdown. But I urge marketers not to think of returning to their pre-Covid habits. The pandemic has given us all pause for thought and the winners in 2022 will be those who learned some key lessons.
Here are six areas of focus for how marketers can succeed in 2022 and beyond:
Get serious on sustainability
People don’t want to return to the pre-2019 status quo. This sentiment covers many areas of life but, in particular, people are increasingly aware of humanity’s precarious role on our planet with its limited resources.
Even if you can’t sign up to the WFA’s Planet Pledge, there are things you can do. The most critical is to make the sustainable choice the easy choice for consumers. Our role as marketers is to highlight the sustainable options for them, as well as within our own organizations, so that resources are focused in the right areas. At the same time, be aware of greenwashing – it’s critical as it serves no one and will only come back at you.
Don’t do purpose unless you mean it
Purpose has become controversial in some circles; however, there’s irrefutable evidence that when it’s done well it’s been proven to provide business advantage. Consumers want to buy from purposeful brands so long as they perceive that purpose to be authentic and meaningful. Purpose needs to be embodied in the DNA of the company and every aspect of how the brand operates.
It also needs a back story and track record to make it credible. Marketers should seek to build those elements before they go public on their bold vision.
Look beyond your organisation
The world is hugely complex, and no marketing organisation can develop or capture all the ideas or tools that can make the right difference. Brands need to be increasingly open to partnership. With more people seeking to continue to work from home or work in new ways post-pandemic, we must be more flexible in the way we collaborate.
This applies not only to the way we work with our agency partners but also in the ways we leverage the technology we increasingly need to run our marketing campaigns. Being open to collaboration means we are more likely to find the partners that will help us gain success.
Extend the outlook of your team
In a world in which there are drastic shifts being driven by technology, you need the support of a team that can see the bigger picture. Your talent needs to understand technology, data, finance, risk management, cultural shifts, communications and creative.
As a senior marketer, it’s your responsibility to keep your team learning in order to stay relevant. Encourage and motivate your team to be general managers, rather than just specialized experts.
Make diversity and inclusion a priority
Diversity and inclusion is a critical part of the way we all do business in 2022. More well-rounded representation across your team and your partners will enable your brand to benefit from better ideas and reach more people in an authentic way.
Don’t leave anybody behind. You will be doing what’s right for people, your employees and your business.
Reimagine everything you do
Marketing is not going to be the same forever. We’re headed into what I call the fifth paradigm of marketing, and it will change everything we do. The explosion of technology headed our way will continue to dramatically change our field and traditional practices will no longer suffice.
We have to reimagine trusted concepts and theories to reach people in new and innovative ways.
It has been a tough two-plus years for everyone. While we continue to persevere, I’m confident that, as we emerge from the pandemic, marketing will be an even stronger, more vital force for sustainable growth in the service of people and our planet.