Kathryn Sakalis is a Business consultant and coach at Thinkworx, South Africa, who specialises in Strategic problem solving, leading large multi-functional teams, Strategic Marketing & Brand Building. She began her career as a brand manager at Unilever after graduating from UCT with a Bachelor of Business Science (Honours) degree. She worked as advertising manager at Sterns and marketing manager at Markham before taking on the position of Marketing Director of Foschini. Sakalis then tackled Financial Services while running CRM and loyalty programmes. She headed up a Business Division within TFG, where her portfolio consisted of eCommerce, Group Marketing, Corporate Communications and Sustainability. She believes in lifetime learning and leading by example. She gives back by enacting random acts of kindness, mentoring and guest lecturing.
In today's digital landscape, companies are accelerating their efforts to deliver unified and personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints and devices. Marketing technology has become pervasive across every department, but without proper coordination and oversight, it can lead to escalating costs, security risks, inconsistent customer experiences, brand compromise, and customer frustration.
CMO COUNCIL: Are you orchestrating and measuring the impact of multi-channel campaigns?
SAKALIS: Unfortunately, I’ve observed that because different channel executions have different managers in charge, their lack of collaboration could result in tunnel vision per channel. It is the CMO’s role to ensure that these channels work cohesively to deliver a consistent brand message and to achieve the set KPIs/targets. But not all CMOs are executing on this, especially when measurability for some channels is not as obvious (although still possible). I’m still not observing sufficient discipline in defining and measuring ROI and then most importantly, taking action based on these ROIs
CMO COUNCIL: Have you adopted intent-based optimization and incorporated those insights into next best actions to maximize customer journey conversion?
SAKALIS: Some marketers are practicing the strategy that focuses on understanding and addressing the specific intent of a customer at different stages of their buying journey, although they might not overtly call it intent-based optimization. There is a focus within the corporates I’m consulting to, on customer journey mapping and therefore on understanding the different pain points customers experience, as they progress through the buying process. There is definitely a renewed focus on optimizing customer conversions, as the economy continues to struggle, and budgets remain stretched.
CMO COUNCIL: To what degree are you scaling personalization efforts despite large and complex data sets?
SAKALIS: There is an increasing focus on personalization, although system complexity and data issues continue to be a challenge. The acknowledgement that personalization works – the results are clearly showing this – means that efforts are being made to continuously improve this crucial aspect of one’s marketing strategy. More refined customer segmentation strategies are helping as are improved content strategies.
CMO COUNCIL: In what ways are you safeguarding brand, customer data, and business continuity in a connected economy?
SAKALIS: The increasing digitization and inter-connectiveness of business operations has increased the importance of this role for CMOs. What CMOs who are getting this right, are doing:
- More collaboration with IT and Legal to ensure data compliance and best practice – as well as enhanced cybersecurity
- Brand reputation management and incident response plans
- Employee training and awareness
- A system of audits to prevent slips.
CMO COUNCIL: Are you marketing in the moment by embracing agile, adaptive, and AI-driven technologies?
SAKALIS: To state the obvious, CMOs have to embrace these technologies in order to stay abreast of changing customer behavior and ever shifting market trends. There is a range of adoption, as is usually the case with new thinking/practices/technology. What I’ve noted being implemented are:
- Agile marketing
- Adaptive campaigns
- AB testing and learning
- Predictive analytics
- Chatbots and virtual assistants.