XL … Visions of the Future of Marketing

The Economist Intelligence Unit, supported by Marketo, recently sought to develop a roadmap for the future. From organizational team design to the importance of engaging customers on a truly personal and 1:1 level, they collected thoughts and ideas from some of the brightest minds in marketing:

  • Seth Godin: Make things worth talking about
  • John Hagel: Attract, assist and a liate
  • Gavin Heaton: To see ve years ahead, look ten years behind
  • Aditya Joshi: The modern marketer: Strategist, technologist, analyst
  • Marc Mathieu: Find a truth and share it
  • Jim Stengel: Marketing is at the centre of strategy

This article to download captures those views, and a summary of what marketers need to do:

1. It’s all about engagement.

An engagement is a contract of betrothal. It is the start of a personal relationship expected to grow deeper and endure over time. It requires listening, nurturing and care and feeding. It comes with expectations of intimacy and trust. The engagement that marketers seek is not so di erent.

Seth Godin believes that marketers who are serious about engaging the customer recognise that the most valuable moments are when the customer is actually in touch with you: using your product, on the phone with you, reading your content. If you are able to address your customers’ needs during those moments–rather than put them on hold while telling them how important their call is– you’re going to get engagement.

Says Jim Stengel: “At P&G we used to say that if we measured our brands the way we measure healthy relationships with other people, it would lead to a high market share. So think about your relationships. Do you look forward to seeing that person? Do you care about them? Do they share your values? Do you speak well of them to others?”

2. Start at the start.

Marketers have always been treated as the last and fastest runner in the relay, brought in for the nal leg to sprint for the nish. The problem is that most races are already won or lost before the last runner gets the baton. Any marketer who has run a campaign knows that marketers can sprint. But the best marketers are ve-minute-mile marathoners who combine speed and stamina. They take the customer on a journey. They need to show up at the starting line, when the people who run the business are saying, “What should we make? Who should we make it for? How do we make it in such a way that the story of our product is true?”

3. Articulate your ambitious purpose.

We all want to feel that our lives have meaning. We gravitate towards brands that help us nd that meaning. It could be a personal manifesto like “Think di erent” or “Just do it.” It could be an allusion to our common humanity like Skype’s family portrait series, which illustrated the growth of a long-distance friendship between two girls, each missing an arm. Or it could be a global call to action like Wal-Mart’s sustainable supply chain initiative. Each of these companies built an engaged audience by ending a big, ambitious theme and building a long-running campaign around it. Each also experienced sustained growth.

4. Agile will rule.

As recently as ve years ago, most marketing departments were set up only to conduct campaigns and launches. That is changing, especially at larger companies with large numbers of customers. It is not the old mode of planning a campaign, executing it, analysing the results, learning from them and applying those lessons
to next year’s campaign. Marketers  are increasingly running a real-time dialogue, constantly listening and instantly connecting in relevant ways. Consumers have an expectation of immediacy. Like Visa at the World Cup, they are taking advantage of events when they happen and linking them to their brand.

A 24/7 mentality requires a di erent way of working. Marketing used to be an assembly line. Now it is more like a trading room that responds to the ebbs and ows of the market as they occur. Although marketers will always have to manage the equivalent of an iPhone launch, there will also be day-in and day-out e orts to build a relationship with customers who in return reward you with a stream of purchases.

5. Turn start-and-stop into start-and-continue.

The next ve years will see the growth of test-and-learn as standard operating procedure. Campaign work ows are still siloed today. Analytics comes up front, then there’s a big creative piece, the campaign is launched and more analytics at the back end. Those distinct pieces need to be joined together into a more iterative work ow that combines the creative and the analytical in a collaborative process. Marketers are the stewards of signi cant resources – iterating in real-time, with real-time analytics about what is working and what is not will allow them to be true drivers of productivity.

6. Make transparency a virtue.

Unilever Senior Vice-president of Marketing Marc Mathieu likes to say that marketing “used to be about creating a myth and selling it and is now about nding a truth and sharing it”. It is di cult to sustain myths these days; with a few clicks of the mouse, anyone can discover almost anything and instantly circulate it to an audience of millions. Companies con dent enough to share the truth are choosing to participate in a web-enabled show and tell– and consumers appreciate it.

7. Integrate the old with the new.

In the minds of many, marketing and advertising are synonymous: the marketing budget exists to buy TV spots and trade show booths. It is true that marketers do far more than buy ads now. A lot more. It is also true that consumers now rely more on peer-to-peer connections and less on messages directly from the companies. Marketers are creating journeys to guide consumers and customers towards a mutually desired outcome. But at the same time, marketing does run the ad budget and those traditional expenditures have not gone away. Bain’s Aditya Joshi points out that in many industries analog media like

TV may decline in the next three to ve years, but won’t fall by much. In the consumer products industry, for example, TV’s share of the marketing mix in 2020 should still be north of 40%. Marketers should not think in terms of discarding traditional and embracing digital. Instead, they should think about how to get both
to work together in an integrated and consistent way. If marketers do it right, window-shoppers become buyers and buyers become advocates and fans.

8. Get your own house in order.

An asset is an investment that generates value in the form of return on investment (ROI). Engaged customers t the de nition of an asset, but marketers often complain that their CFOs resist the idea of engagement as an asset worth investing in.

In fact, these marketers are wrong: the problem is one of data, logic and presentation. Many marketers don’t fully understand what drives engagement- -and therefore they can’t present it
in a compelling way to the CFO. “If you can quantify engagement, any CFO in the world will pay attention,” says Jim Stengel. And not just pay attention, but jump in and ask, “How can I help?” Too many marketers don’t understand what makes their company preferred over others.

9. Harden the soft.

Of all the factors that drive engagement, the most important may be a culture of customer centricity. Culture is often mistakenly considered to be a soft concept. It is a big concept, but it is not a soft one: it can be broken down into a very speci c set of values and activities that are mirrored in incentives, salaries and promotions. Customer engagement needs to play a central role in the organisation’s culture. Otherwise the business will not be sustainable.

10. Keep up with the consumers.

Enterprise technology has lagged consumer technology for over
a decade. Consumer behaviour changes faster than behaviour within the organisation. In the world at large, Facebook and Twitter enable communities to spontaneously form, sync up and take action. Marketers have a responsibility to modify the organisation’s outreach based on changes in the outside world. At the same time, those external shifts need to be brought into the corporation. Marketing bridges the gap between the lives of consumers and those of people in the organisation.

11. Concerns over privacy are overwrought.

The customers of Target, EBay and Home Depot know all too well that privacy is important. At the same time, and more relevant to marketers, the new generation of digital natives has grown up seeing the value in sharing everything.

They want to share. They want personalisation. They see the tradeo between what they are giving up and what they are getting as positive. Sharing personal information is not going away. In fact, it will become more widespread.

12. Learn to make decisions about making decisions.

Marketing no longer sits in a corner and runs campaigns; it interacts with almost every part of the business, from IT to customer service and logistics. To do their jobs e ectively, marketers need to be able to join up collaborative, cross- functional processes with functions that have objectives and report up through other parts of the business.

That requires agreeing in advance what the decisions are and what criteria will guide the decisions. If there is a purchase, who funds it? Who decides on the vendor? What is the role of marketing versus IT, nance and other functions? Progressive marketers are starting to understand and embrace the need to set up cross-functional decision-making processes.

13. There is a formula for building trust.

Companies collect data with every customer interaction. Most people don’t care about disclosing information if they believe it will be used to help them. The concern is that the company will take advantage of the data to do something not in their interest – sending ads, for instance, or giving the data to “trusted partners” who may misuse it. The solution is a series of small steps
of helpful actions. The customer bene ts. Trust grows. And ultimately the privacy concern goes away because you have demonstrated that the data are being accumulated for the bene t of the customer.

14. Keep the touches light.

Imagine that you are browsing on a website. A box pops up and asks if you found what you are looking for. If you say, “no,” it opens a window and you nd yourself talking to customer service. If you say “yes,” it sends you to Amazon or Yelp! and asks you to leave a positive review. In theory, the interaction is positive. You are being helpful, trying to guide the customer and enlisting their help if the experience pleases them. In fact, customers feel manipulated and turned off. Instead, remember the interaction and use that to be more relevant with the next conversation. Just because you can automate something doesn’t mean you always should.

15. Bridge left and right.

There is a lot of talk about political polarisation in the halls of government. Polarisation exists in marketing too. The in uence of left-brained analytical hires is growing. Many creatives feel pressured. The ideal marketing organisation requires both sets of abilities—and for these to work together in an integrated fashion. “Very few individuals have left- and right-brained capabilities in the same depth and strength,” says Bain’s Mr Joshi. “On e would need a modern-day Da Vinci. But you know how rare that is.”

A more practical answer is to create a Da Vinci in the aggregate, hiring different people with different skills who combine to create a Da Vinci. That is the ideal marketing team – not right- brained or left-brained but both-brained.

Download the file for XL … Visions of the Future of Marketing