5 ways Marketing WON’T change in the next 5 Years
Is there a problem with Marketing?
An article in the Harvard Business Review in 2012, said traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead and that many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm.
It then went on to say this was because Buyers are no longer paying much attention and are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, and often from sources outside the firm such as word-of-mouth or customer reviews.
The interesting thing is the definition of marketing – not a mention of products, pricing or product development.
The article concludes that in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing and sales not only doesn’t work so well, it doesn’t make sense.
CEOs have apparently lost all patience with marketers.
For instance, in a study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.
Amongst the predictions for how marketing will change under this onslaught, a white paper from GIGYA recently said that massive data collection and manipulation will grow as consumers interact with businesses across different digital platforms such as mobile, social, and web.
Using this data, marketers will explore ways to integrate socially connected users into loyalty programs, analytics and web experiences; and social will be used not only to boost customer acquisition and brand awareness, but to retain and reward loyal customers through personalisation and relevance.
But doesn’t all this sound a lot like traditional marketing? This all sounds new, revolutionary and exciting – but is it?
There is an element of Emperor’s new clothes in some of this debate – with echoes of the dotcom bubble where the internet was seen as a revolutionary new medium with its own arcane rules, when in fact it was another route to market where the same commercial rules still applied.
In fact, to take the UK as an example, advertising spend increased by 2.4% year-on-year in the first three months of 2013 to £4.14bn, driven by TV spend, and followed a strong performance in 2012, when total UK advertising revenue broke through the £17bn barrier again, its highest level since 2007.
By sector, the standout performer was once again internet advertising, up 11.1% year-on-year, ahead of TV, up 5.6%, and cinema, up 1.6%.
So the talk about the death of traditional marketing and the obsession with “content” “Big data” and “Social” seems to be only part of the story, and explains why many CEO’s are losing patience with Marketers.
Modern marketing is becoming obsessed with content, conversations and communities without being able to relate their activities to the bottom line or the “traditional” concerns of product innovation, profitability and shareholder value which are the main concerns of CEO’s today, as ever.
So here are 5 ways marketing WON’T change in the next 5 years (or shouldn’t if it is to continue to influence business strategy)
It’s the Brand, stupid
One fact in all this is true – life is becoming more complicated.
The impact of the internet has increased the welter of information available to consumers, as well as introducing ever more complex ways of interacting with companies.
As marketers, we are desperate to start conversations with our customers, to show them we care, but do our customers really have the time or inclination to do this?
When faced with a buying decision, consumers are turning more and more to Brands they can trust, from wherever they gained that impression.
It’s like a filing cabinet in the mind with drawers marked “Insurance” “Cars” “Supermarkets” “Banks” and so on.
When they are in the market, they open the drawer and take out trusted files.
That’s the purpose of a Brand, to be the first out of the drawer with a reputation the consumer can trust, and then to deliver on that promise so that their trust is reinforced and they come back for more.
The need for a strong Brand won’t change.
It’s about their needs, not our content
The customer journey from awareness of need through to purchase and aftercare has always been a key focus of marketers.
Understanding the decision making process, the sources of information, the touch-points and the key influencers in that decision are crucial in developing a relevant marketing communications strategy and tailoring the “content” to customer needs at various point along the way.
Sure, it’s become a more complex process which no longer follows the simple AIDA formula of the past as consumers now loop back and forth from broadcast to social to in-store and on-line sources of information and purchasing, but understanding the customer journey will remain central to all successful marketing planning.
And it provides a framework against which you can measure your activities and keep your CEO happy.
A loyal customer is a profitable customer
Over the years, marketers have always sought ways to build and maintain customer loyalty.
We all know (at least most of us, apart from the banks) that it is cheaper and more profitable over time to retain customers rather than finding new ones.
The internet has given us unprecedented opportunities to build relationship with customers, engage in dialogue and turn them into advocates.
By the same token personalisation has always been a goal of marketer, it’s what underpins the direct marketing industry.
But CRM is a state of mind, a philosophy, not a process or a technology.
It’s about engaging with customers, determining their needs and then delighting them with our response.
To quote GIGYA again “Specifically, marketers that have collected enough data on their users to truly understand their demographic profiles, behaviours, interests, and more will be able to surface better, more relevant content to their audiences.”
Well yes, provided that content includes a product they want, at a performance they need and a price they are prepared to pay…
Good ol’ 4P’s (or 5, 6 )
There is much talk about “content” in the social sphere, which generates a lot of activity but is difficult to quantify in terms of products sold or income generated (like old-skool PR which measured column inches and equated it to advertising dollars, but did it produce a sale?)
If marketing is going to account for anything at the top table in organisations, it has to concern itself with products, customers and markets, not to mention Kotler’s STP – segmentation, targeting and positioning
Product, price, place and promotion are the lifeblood of any business, and marketers should be central to the strategic planning and product innovation of the business.
The fact that so many CEO’s are losing patience with marketers, and the reason so many organisations do not have marketers in the top jobs may be something to do with the fact that we’ve lost sight of these basic facts.
So close attention to the 4P’s (or 5, or 6) will not change in the next five years.
People predicting the death of marketing
Marketing has always been a Cinderella at the party, viewed with suspicion by Finance Directors trying to save money and often misunderstood by the senior management team.
It can sometimes be its own worst enemy with the jargon, arcane processes and love of new technologies which characterise much marketing discourse.
But whatever you call the function, you can’t have a successful business without answering the basic marketing questions of who, what, why, where, when and how.
In a famous memo of 1931, McElroy outlined the responsibilities of a ‘Brand Man.’
His conclusion was:
“In short, when the brand men have approached their fullest responsibilities, they should be able to take from the shoulders of the division managers a very heavy share of individual brand responsibility.”
This is as true today as it was then.
Digital technologies, big data, social networks and all the rest are a superb development in answering those questions, and if we remember that, then as Mark Twain said: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”