While most of us are leaf-peeping or seeking out the weirdest use of pumpkin spice, my friends in product or marketing positions are putting the finishing touches on their strategy decks for 2023. In addition to the normal choices, there are a couple external factors that will play into the planning.
Likelihood of Recession
Depending on who you ask, we’re either in a recession now or we’ll experience one before the end of 2023. The underlying economic stuff is tricky enough, but I also wonder how much the click-baity, nervous headlines will amp up enough fear that the recession becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, leading marketing and product teams through a recessionary period is going to be a new challenge for a generation of middle managers who’ve gone most of their careers (since 2008) without the joy of seeing charts moving downwards.
Tight Labor Pool
The labor crunch in digital roles doesn’t seem to be getting any better and companies who want to accelerate their digital transformations are struggling to lure full time workers. More orgs are considering flexible talent solutions or outsourcing to keep up. But, managers will have to be creative to build the teams they need to win.
Culture and Changing Attitudes Towards Work
Are all our team-mates becoming Bartleby, declaring “I prefer not to” when asked to go above and beyond? I hate the concept of “quiet quitting”, but I think the phenomenon is here to stay. It’s a phrase that perfectly encapsulates some of the changing attitudes about work. It might be easy to attribute those changing perspectives to a generational difference (“You Gen Z kids get off my digital lawn!”) or somehow a residue from the pandemic, but we’re seeing a general dissatisfaction with the status quo of work across the board. Managers and leaders will have to dig deep into their bag of employee engagement tricks to address this. I expect we’ll see a new take on “great manager” and “company purpose” training as one antidote.
Creative Partner Dilemma: Algorithms vs. Brand Creative
Organic social media reach is dead. Ad blindness is real. In a social media landscape where all of us are essentially little indy influencers, how does a brand break through? More high visibility stunts? Deep collabs on cool media projects? More worrying is the rise of algorithmically driven content and ad display, where we’re essentially letting math and luck drive where the impressions show up. What happens when brands have to fit their message into the creative expressions the robots prefer? The implication for brands is that they must conform their creative expressions to the choices that the algorithms bias. Will brands need to mimic all the trends to get seen? Either way, its going to force brands to rethink the creative partners they work with. The traditional, consumer- insight driven creative teams that specialize in crafting thoughtful, controlled brand expressions will probably give way to partner who can create a high volume of quick, clicky, meme-surfing videos in the pursuit of a few that will work. (Maybe I’m being a little pessimistic here).
Digital leaders have a lot on their plates for 2023. It will be a challenging year where early choices may set the course for a successful year.