The Future of Marketing: Is The Science of Marketing Taking Over?


Last week we kicked of this Future of Marketing series with an interview with Mark Schaefer.

Mark identified culture as the key differentiator of a successful social business. He also predicted that Facebook search would begin to impact the balance of power that Google has with consumers and over advertisers, as more millennials enter and rise in the workforce.

I have already stated my own marketing predictions on the future of marketing myself. But now I want to continue to bring in ideas from industry insiders, thought leaders and social business innovators.

Following is an interview with Marcus Starke (@marstarke), SVP, Worldwide Marketing Regions at SAP.

Marcus, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was drawn to marketing because it captured my passions: planning, strategy, creativity and the opportunity to make a real impact on the business. I started my career in the CPG industry and worked in a variety of sales and marketing roles working for companies like Danone and Diageo. I always wanted to be a global citizen, work in different countries and speak several languages, and those companies helped me broaden my horizons professionally and culturally.

As my career progressed, I decided to pursue an entrepreneurial goal and launch my own business. I ended up launching two separate marketing businesses in Europe: a strategy consultancy firm and a marketing services agency that supported Fortune 500 clients as well as smaller companies.

Both were successful, and after several years I ended up merging my business with 141 Worldwide, which became part of WPP. It provided me the opportunity to lead large agencies like Publicis. My last role on the agency side was serving as Chairman & CEO of Wunderman EMEA.

Many marketers launch their own businesses, but it’s rare to be successful twice. What influenced you?

I believe marketers are entrepreneurs at heart: helping a business grow is part of our DNA.  Launching and running two successful marketing businesses for eight years allowed me the personal satisfaction of building my own business and the professional satisfaction of helping my clients grow theirs. Of course, I could not have accomplished either without surrounding myself with smart, creative, motivated people.

How did you arrive at your current position?

A headhunter contacted me to ask me for any recommendations for a senior marketing role at SAP. I provided several names of people that might be good candidates. The headhunter eventually challenged me to consider the role for myself.

After enjoying a lot of successful years on the agency side, going back to the client side, particularly for a market leader like SAP, was too good a career opportunity to pass up. I joined SAP as Head of North America Marketing in 2009. Last year I was promoted to SVP of Worldwide Marketing Regions, responsible for our regional Marketing organizations around the globe and a member of SAP’s global leadership team.

What is the biggest challenge you and your team are facing?

We have been doing some “internal marketing” to re-position the role of Marketing beyond its traditional support role of helping the Sales organization sell to one that drives and builds the business. Today, there is more emphasis on accountability and measureable impact.

How are you accomplishing that?

We are putting more discipline into running Marketing like a business, for starters. We put more effort into measuring our impact, our results and how efficient we are in achieving those results. Return of Marketing Investment (ROMI) is a critical way for us to demonstrate the impact and tangible results we generate.

Another thing that is personally important to me is “marketing critical thinking.” If we are doing something solely because “we have always done that” marketing campaign, tactic or activity, that’s not a good reason.  If we are going to drive greater business impact, we need to challenge the “marketing status quo” and look to improve every aspect of the way we run our marketing business.

What are you doing differently?

Technology and innovation have changed the landscape, affecting consumer and customer behavior, decision-making and buying cycles. At SAP, we have seen how these things have impacted the way we go to market and engage with our audiences.

From a change perspective, we’ve made great progress and we’re driving that change to other parts of the organization. The power of “social selling” is a great example. Successfully navigating the social media/social community landscape is a huge factor in influencing a customer’s technology purchase. Essentially we are transitioning from helping our sales organization sell to helping people buy from SAP.

What is your view of the future of Marketing?

While the “art” of marketing will remain important, the “science” of marketing will play an equally important role. Technologies will enable companies to better analyze their data and make better and smarter marketing and business decisions. But it does not take the place of creative that connects with an audience, excites them and resonates.

The other important trend is that as competition intensifies, strengthening customer retention and customer intimacy becomes absolutely crucial. Marketing is uniquely positioned to solve those challenges and provide strategic guidance to achieve those challenges. In more and more organizations you will see greater collaboration between Marketing and IT because their combined strengths- analysis, insights, creativity, technology and execution- are the “killer app” essential for companies that want to compete, grow and succeed. More CEOs in the future will be former CMOs because Marketing is becoming increasingly important for most companies.

Marcus Starke is SVP, Worldwide Marketing Regions at SAP. Contact him at or on Twitter @marstarke.

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Do you see marketing and IT coming together? Let me know what you think in the comments below. And follow the conversation on Twitter (@BrennerMichael),  LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

5 thoughts on “The Future of Marketing: Is The Science of Marketing Taking Over?

  1. 90% of marketing will be run by science but the art of marketing will be responsible for 90% of the big, transformative ideas. At its core creativity and innovation is an art . . . not a science . . . ungoverned by a formula.

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