What's Next For the Future of Marketing?

We need to engineer less and engage more

June 28, 2016

What's Next For the Future of Marketing?

Editor's Note: This post was contributed by Marc de Swaan Arons, CMO and Executive Board Member at Vermeer.

Everything around us is changing, especially the marketing field. To be more specific, it is WHAT we do in marketing that is changing beyond recognition. With the possible exception of information technology, there is not another discipline that has evolved so quickly. Tools and strategies that were cutting-edge just a few years ago are fast becoming obsolete, and new approaches are appearing every day. Yet in most companies the organizational structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago.

We have already seen beginnings of these necessary changes from key players. When you look at great companies like Nike and Red Bull you can see that they do not actually have detailed play books around roles. What you do see are new corners of expertise.

Social media plays an exciting role when it comes to new opportunities. Marketers now have innovative tools, enabling them to do what was impossible until now - like rapid feedback and personalizing content. Being able to collaborate with consumers and offer multiple new touchpoints.

Purpose is another key area in which Marketers can give new, deeper meaning to the company as a whole. Globalization of brands and the way technology and social media is leveraged is the new normal, and historically big brands need to keep up.

As recently as ten years ago, it was the CEO and CFO that set all of the rules, while marketing was left with obscure (and often unmeasurable) KPIs. Now, with the advent and scaling of the I & A function being tied to marketing departments, marketers can measure and collect data to prove their impact on business performance. As a consequence of this evolution, marketers are also seen as driving innovation, which is crucial in today’s market place, and are readily given a seat at the table.

With all of these opportunities there subsequently come challenges. With new, advanced KPIs and datasets available upon request, marketers need to know what Big Data is, how to deal with it, and how to avoid infobesity by collecting the right kind of data and sifting out all of the red herrings. Another serious challenge is breaking down the traditional silos that have divided companies for generations. The design of the organization needs to be engineered to ensure collaboration, which then flows to the end customer in the form of consistent touch points.

If we look at some characteristics of high growth companies we see three key factors that drive organizational effectiveness: big insights, purposeful positioning and total experience. All three of which are achieved by:  connecting the company, inspiring internally & externally, providing clarity of purpose, and organizing effectively & building structures to grow.

Big Insights

Lots of people are talking about big data, but very few are using it effectively. The key is to gain insights from big data, not the data points themselves. Most companies know WHAT their customers are doing, but only the winning companies know WHY they are doing it.

Purposeful Positioning 

So what do I mean by purpose? Purpose is the key driver of everything that the brand does. Pampers’ purpose, for example, is to help mothers have happy, healthy babies. It is difficult to compete on the dryness of a diaper, which is why Pampers began reaching mothers on a higher, much more emotional level. What we see across a full spectrum of metrics is that brands where people say they have a clearly defined purpose experienced higher growth than their counterparts.

Total Experience

The total experience that a brand is able to offer is where all of these core competencies come together.  As we look forward at our brand values and offerings, it will be around maximizing the depth of the customer relationship and the level of personalization that we can provide.  In a customer’s mind, a consistent and seamless total brand experience will increase your brand value. Breadth of experience is just as critical. The question all Marketers should be asking themselves is:  Are we present on every relevant consumer touch point?

Ultimately, the take away message here is connection, both internally and externally. It’s about recognizing that marketing is far too important to be left just for marketers. We need to engineer less and engage more. Data shows that CMOs that collaborate closely with IT, HR, and Finance over perform. Over performing companies are also using a handful of agencies, making sure that they are all experts in different areas. In the end it is about the WHAT of the brand, as well as the WHY. But just as importantly, it’s about the HOW.  About how you connect, inspire, focus, and create clarity within your organization.

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