Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

In a year of volatility

focus on fundamentals AND intelligent iteration

It’s tempting to swirl or get paralyzed by volatility if you’re a marketer in 2024. 

After all, this is the year of 3rd party cookie deprecation on Chrome. That’s one more nail in the deterministic audience coffin coupled with more privacy legislation around the world. We’re being bombarded by AI tools that promise to either transform our businesses or take away our jobs. And the glorious CAC efficiencies that we enjoyed during the pandemic are no more. 

While I love a doomsday vent as much as anyone else, I think we have a valuable opportunity to hit reset. 

How? We find a workable middle ground - somewhere between a ‘head in the sand’ luddite mindset and the irrational exuberance of techno-optimists. 

We double down on evergreen fundamentals as well as build a testing sandbox to prepare for the future. 

Here are a few examples: 

Evergreen Fundamentals: Solve for the big picture


1. Commercial acumen: Uplevel & revisit strategic decisions 

  • Which product  /  audience  / distribution channel drives top line & margins? Are your marketing investments lined up appropriately? Are there trade offs or hard decisions you’ve been putting off?
  • Are you spending to re-acquire the same customers every 2-3 months via paid marketing instead of nurturing them and building loyalty? If so, you likely have a product problem, not a marketing one. 
  • Are there pricing changes you can test this year?  Increases for user segments that are relatively inelastic? Adjustments to drive unit volume for elastic segments? 


2. Your value proposition and big creative idea

This is your enduring source of differentiation in a sea of commodification. While AI tools could help in the idea generation phase, remember that LLMs are inherently skewed by the safety of status quo i.e. available training data and are likely less poised to deliver breakthrough, yet on-brand, ideas. 


3. Cross-functional collaboration for sustainable growth

  • Reduce silos across teams by instituting more “shared” higher level OKRs  vs. fragmented ones that map to narrower goals. 
  • Investigate leaky buckets & shaky handoffs Eg. Is the “acquisition” team just throwing users across the fence without ramping them up? 


4. Invest in relationship “depth” for high stake situations

When automation is everywhere, relationships become more, not less valuable. This could be your marketing team collaborating with finance on ROI or your sales team pitching to a CIO. At the end of the day, the ability to strategically influence and manage people has never been more important. 

Testing Sandbox:  Develop hypotheses, learn, iterate and scale intelligently


1. Invest in First Party Data

  • If you don’t have a sizable first party data set yet, build it in a privacy forward manner and reduce reliance on third party signals or identifiers.
  • If you do have enough scale: 
  1. Understand the effectiveness of targeting lookalikes of your most engaged or loyal cohorts vs. other parameters. 
  2. Consolidate your first party audiences with contextual signals & activate with high-quality data-rich publishers. 


2.    Figure out your relationship with AI

  • Start small if you don’t have resources available. Prioritize use cases that matter to you. Improved efficiency & productivity are low hanging fruits for AI in marketing, so that’s a good place to start. 

Eg. Could AI enable you to adapt your big creative idea downstream? Scale long tail asset production in a cost efficient manner? 

  • If you have resources available,  test combining your proprietary data [specialized expertise] with the scale of LLMs [trained on public data sets] to create new revenue streams or a superior customer experience.  This can enable you to build competitive advantage in a level-playing field, but likely entails a reimagining or a rebuild of your core offering. 
  • Above all - make sure AI significantly enhances the value proposition before you make irreversible commitments. Always validate with customer feedback, don’t get swayed by FOMO. 


Written by Priyanka Nath, Fractional CMO & Growth Advisor

Published on 22 February 2024


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