I was recently asked to speak to some MBA students about what has and will change in the life of a marketer and what additional skills they must have to be effective today. Here is what I told them, but I would love to hear your own thoughts on this important question.
Marketing used to be considered one of the most creative parts of a business. Marketers were seen to arrive late in the office after what was assumed to have been another dinner with one of their agencies in one of the best restaurants in town. As if that image was not bad enough, they were also accused of going to fancy conferences in exotic places around the world that most employees only dream of visting. Whilst I am sure a (lucky) few had this lifestyle, the majority of us worked hard and late, and usually also put in hours at weekend to ensure promotions and events were successful.
Today marketers are challenged with a new world, a world where the customer is in control; where marketing is no longer (only) creative, and they are required to have many more skills to be successful, the following three in my opinion, being the more important:
1. Actionable Insight development
When a marketer needs information, he usually asks the marketing research department to run a study to gather the data. The results are presented and marketing takes a decision based on them – or not!
In many organisations today, the market research department has exp anded and now gathers information on the customer, the shopper, the competitor, in fact all areas of the market in general.
In the last ten years we have seen the growth of insight development, where multiple studies and other sources of data and information are integrated with internal knowledge to develop insight. Suddenly marketers not only communicate with, but now actively search out the opinions of their colleagues in R&D, operations, sales, purchasing etc when making a decision about how best to satisfy their customers.
2. Customer connection
Media choice until recently was pretty limited: TV, print, radio and outdoor – what is now referred to as traditional media. In addition, companies connected with their customers through their care centres, promotions, events and sponsorship. With the growth of the internet and social media, connecting with the customer has exp anded in possibilities, which makes the need for consistency not only more difficult, but also more important.
Customers expect to be able to choose where, when and how a company connects and communicates with them. They decide when to watch their favourite programs, often without advertising breaks, at an hour that suits them rather than at the programmed time and often not even on a television any more, but on a computer, tablet or mobile screen.
Marketers are therefore challenged to be available 24/7 for their customers and any frustration when this doesn’t happen is very quickly shared with the world at large.
3. Information integration
With the expansion of media comes also an explosion in information. According to IBM, 90% of data today did not exist two years ago and it is estimated to be growing at a rate of between 40% and 60% annually. This means that by 2015, there will be ten times more data than there is today!
It is not only the quantity of data that a marketer has at his disposal that is changing, it is also the nature of the data and the way that the value of it is extracted.
Structured data, describing what has happened amongst a sample of customers will be replaced by real-time, unstructured, external, predictive information that is or can be personalised. We are moving away from data mining to signal identification, and computers working with advanced analytics and with machine learning capabilities.
The New Marketing
So what do these changes mean for the marketer of today? Well product and br and managers will give way to people experts, who are no longer satisfied by data and information alone, but will dem and underst anding and insight. They will need to be comfortable with multi-sourced information where the customer is in control and pulls to them what they want, rather than accepting what marketers want to push their way.
The marketers creative skills will remain important, but will no longer be sufficient. They will need to get comfortable with the world we live in, which dem ands cultural sensitivity and real-time information integration and analytics. This will require that they become global thinkers, more flexible, technically savvy and comfortable taking rapid decisions as the market evolves.
Are you ready?
What do you see changing in the world of marketing today? Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my own thoughts.
For more about these three topics please see our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/