February 22, 2018

Where Do CEOs Plan to Invest for Growth in 2018?

February 22, 2018

Where Do CEOs Plan to Invest for Growth in 2018?

Business Strategy, Digital, Business Growth

We recently surveyed 133 CEOs, Directors of Marketing and Sales, and CMOs to find out where companies are likely to invest for growth. 

We found that most young executives are aiming to increase investment across the board more than older executives. We also found it interesting that smaller cities like Adelaide are more adventurous in terms of virtual reality or augmented reality than Sydney or Melbourne.

The highlight of our survey reveals the key areas where business leaders plan to invest to grow their businesses this year.


To find out other industry insights we’ve gathered from the survey, download  the raw data and the presentation.  <http://info.hellostepchange.com/2018-movie-night>


Most executives want to invest in their brand first, their strategy second, and everything else a distant third. [Tweet this!


When we break it down by age, state, industry, it pretty much lines up like this every time. 41% of CEOs and CMOS were very likely to invest in their brand, and 27% in their strategy. 


That is investment in brand over sales enablement or brand over product development.

Executives know that in order to grow a company, they need to be building their brands all the time.

Jeff Bezos said, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”


What Makes a Great Brand?

Brands need to be authentic and should emanate from every part of what a company does.

We always know a great brand when we see one because it is consistent and has a strong and appealing point of view.  But, most of all, great brands stand up for something and they lead people.

The interesting thing about strategy falling second in investment priority is that none of the trending channels or technologies came close, except for strategy over social media and strategy over advertising. This is because executives know that in order to maximise the use of resources, they have to make strategic choices about where to deploy them.


“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” (Michael Porter) [Tweet this!]



In the above graph, we see the industries that have caught on this trend. It isn't surprising that IT/Telco industries are investing the most in their brands and their strategy.

Technology and web brands know that in order to win, they need to be selective over where to deploy their resources, and they need to build a brand that makes the intangible tangible.

All industries can learn from Salesforce, Xero, Spotify, and Atlassian. They all stand up, lead, and represent a group of people (often called a tribe) and offer them a way forward. They started out by finding their 1,000 true fans.

Interestingly, the industries that are most open to disruption right now — accounting and financial services — are less likely than average to invest in these trends.

When working on strategy vs brand, here are some points you need to remember.

  • Know your market. Businesses need to find a way to get to know their market well. This is why Voice of the Customer technology like Vision Critical or Hotjar have taken off. In a recent survey, 57% of CEOS felt hindered in their ability to carry out broad digital transformation because they didn’t know what their market wanted, and 22% felt their data and analytics capabilities were lacking.
  • Define your strategy. Make choices in what to do and what not to say. The worst thing a marketing team can do is copy their competition and try to be everything to everyone. A great content strategy finds a way to be hyper relevant, to become a curator, for 1,000 true fans. A great positioning strategy is predatory and uses the competition’s strengths against them.
  • Start with why.  Your brand needs a strong ‘why’. A great brand engages the whole organisation. A great ‘why’ also engages you. If you don’t know why you do what you do, it’s about time you sit down and think this through with your management or senior leadership team.


The Power of Video

Video is proving to be a game changer for businesses looking for an interactive way to engage with their audience. 27% of CEOs and CMOs said they were very likely to invest in video in 2018. As of 2017, online video accounts for 74% of online traffic.

People still love video as much as they used to; they’re just consuming it through a different medium. People love videos because it is still the best way to tell stories.

  • Video Advertising. It isn’t surprising to see a lot of businesses want to invest more in video.  In some segments, we saw it come closer to strategy on the priority list as companies aim to grow their brand using video and social media. 
    B2B industries are more likely to invest in video because they need to communicate complicated propositions.  With YouTube, Vimeo, and other advertising options, the old can become new again.
  • Visual and Verbal Learning. With as much as 4x of customer prefering to watch a product video than reading about it, video explainers are seen as the most effective at communicating your message to your audience.

What we know is that video shines through because it can be used across multiple channels. It can be used in email, one to one, on websites, or through advertising.

It’s all about multichannel marketing and complex ideas, and with this strategy in place, you can never go wrong.

Now that you know what CEOs and CMOs are prioritising this 2018, what comes next is taking the right strategy into execution.





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