Survey Says: You’re not alone.

When you want to get to the heart of your customers’ pain points, our recommendation is always the same: just ask. And that’s what we did with our recent Vision 2020 survey.
We gave our contacts an anonymous outlet to air their grievances and reflect on what’s truly standing in the way of reaching their goals – and the results were eye opening. We found that regardless of company types, sizes and roles, most communications professionals are battling the same challenges.
Read on – some of this will sound familiar to you!
Our contact list is broad and filled with companies of all shapes, sizes and target audiences, so it was nearly impossible to hypothesize what results we would get. We knew we wanted raw, real-life, unaided responses, so we left most of the questions open-ended. We sent the survey to the entire “Ben Thinking” subscriber list and were pleased with the response rate. Respondents identified themselves as C-suite executives (14.29%), senior managers (35.71%), mid-level managers (42.86%) and individual contributors (7.14%).
While our sample size isn’t large enough to be considered scientifically relevant, the 28 solid responses we received were relevant to us – and very telling.
Your inner thoughts revealed.
Before we get serious, I’d like to give a shout-out to a few respondents: the soon-to-be-retiree whose greatest challenge is determining which golf course to go to in the morning and the people who said having a clone, a time machine and $2 million with a home in the Cayman Islands would make their jobs a lot easier … Thank you for your honesty, creativity and for making our review of the information just a little more interesting!
Now onto the findings. Here are the three trends that emerged from the pages:
1. (Lack of) time, resources and alignment is what's standing between you and your goals. 
Our first three questions all revolved around 2020 goals, barriers to those goals, the greatest day-to-day stressors and what would make your jobs easier.
In terms of business goals, there was a wide variety of responses, including:
  • -Creating more personalized content, as well as visual and video content.
  • -Successfully launching new products.
  • -Producing more qualified leads and/or providing better support to sales.
  • -Brand building.
  • -Growing revenue.
In short: goals are varied and situational to your company. But our survey found that the barriers to achieving those goals were oddly consistent. 
What did your responses tell us? You’re busy. You know what you need to accomplish but are often lacking the tools you need to get there easily. Meetings consume your days, you can’t hire the required staff, and the people who need to be talking, aren’t. You might feel like you are climbing uphill both ways when it comes to achieving your goals – and you are probably feeling frustrated.
2. More than half of you will focus on these five areas in 2020. 
We included one multiple choice question with a laundry list of goals, preceded by the question: Which of the following will be priorities for you in 2020? Select all that apply. We included 26 options because the roles of the people on our list vary, including marketers, corporate communicators, PR practitioners, sales representatives, event coordinator, HR professionals and more.
What’s interesting is that despite the broad sampling of roles, there was a clear top five list that seems to transcend all communications roles and company types:
  • -Proving ROI from our efforts (75%).
  • -Producing more content (53.57%).
  • -Stealing market share from competitors (53.57%).
  • -Creating more visual and/or video content (53.57).
  • -Connecting marketing and sales teams (50%).
Conversely, what are your peers putting less effort into next year? Bottoming out our list is implementing marketing technologies (martech) with only 7% of you focused on that area in 2020.
I have to say, this was probably the most surprising result from the survey. Proving ROI is the top priority by far, yet the technologies to track success are dead last? Maybe it’s because the technology has already been implemented? Or, it’s not in the budget? This divide requires more attention, perhaps in another survey or post …

3. Change: It’s keeping you up at night.
For our finale, we simply asked what’s keeping you up at night with a reminder that this survey was completely anonymous and for you to be open. Much of what we learned here was similar to questions one through three. There are high expectations for small staffs (and the potential for burnout), what one person referred to as “meeting mania,” and just an overall feeling that there’s not enough time in the day.
In addition, I detected one other pattern: change and how unsettling it can be. Several respondents referred to the “rapid pace of change” within the communications field and within organizations. Many indicated that there’s a lack of clarity in terms of corporate vision and expectations.
It seems there’s some irony at play – communicators feel that there’s a general lack of clear communication from leadership and between teams.
No Salesy CTA.
To close this post, I’m going to defy all my content writing training. I’m not going to give you some link to move you through the funnel, because – let’s face it – no one has all the answers.
However, I will say that while there were some surprises, we have seen all these challenges before, and we have helped clients navigate most of them. Every challenge can be considered an opportunity for better communications. But for now, I hope there’s some comfort in knowing you are not alone.
As for our own communications efforts? You gave us a lot to think about. While we cannot promise clones, time machines or a beach house, we can cater our content to better meet your true needs – and hopefully pass along some wisdom to make your jobs just a little easier.
That’s our Vision for 2020. Thanks for helping us see it.