The Future of Marketing

The Future of MarketingI was recently directed back to an article from late last year in Fast Company magazine called The Future of Advertising by Danielle Sacks.

In the article, she talks about the impact of the changes that digital technology, social media and real-time expectations are having on the advertising industry.

And it got me to thinking about the marketing industry as a whole. What does the future of advertising mean for the rest of us? There are a number of great lines from this article that I’d like to excerpt in order to paint a picture of the coming revolution in marketing

And hopefully this will help you to see if you are ready!

The Rise of Digital Natives

The article starts by explaining how a group of instructors, well-versed in the dialect of their “digital natives,”  have come from Sweden to teach New York “digital immigrants” that in the new world, marketing has no boundaries. The old notions of pushed-based advertising and interruption-marketing, are simply no longer good enough. The instructors from the school named “Hyper Island” tell participants that “something digital immigrants would do is make a phone call to make sure someone received an email.”

“Marketing Actually Needs To Be Useful”

I don’t know about you but whenever I use the word “actually” it tends to imply a certain level of sarcasm. It’s as if the author can’t believe she even has to say it.

But need to say it, she does. And say it loud! Look around at the majority of marketing you see or maybe even produce. Is it useful to your customer or is it useful for your company? The article compels us not to make the biggest marketing mistake by focusing on just our company, our products and our terminology.

“Digital Will F$ck You Up!”

Sorry for including the profanity but I truly laughed out loud when I read that. Many in the advertising game are not laughing. They are truly feeling the pain and this change may be coming to a marketing department near you.

What is really so different? Instead of linear “assembly line” campaigns with a formal briefing, a production period, an execution period and a parade of results, we are entering a world of always-on customer interaction. And not only is it constant, you have to be able to respond and adapt in real-time.

Now the advertising world may be particulary vulnerable to this change. But it is only a matter of time before marketers start to feel the pain as well.

Marketers Ultimate Fantasy

According to the article, we dream of the ability to customize marketing messages to the right person at a specific moment. The explosion of options in digital channels from search to iPads to mobile phones is leading to a fragmentation of budgets and customer attention. It states, “the irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers.” And this, according to the author, implies that “the death of mass marketing means the end of lazy marketing.”

Ouch!

There Is Hope

While all this spells disaster for some in the advertising industry who might be slow to adapt to these changes, marketers can reap the rewards. Our customers are fully in charge but with value-based content and a positive customer experience, we can turn the entire horde of satisfied customers into a flash mob of influencers and advertising agents.

Or as the author of states, “the opportunity for marketers is that instead of having to pay for their message to run somewhere, they can ‘earn’ media for free, via consumers spreading YouTube clips, Groupons, and tweets…”

So we can leverage the change in consumer habits and expectations, the proliferation of digital and social channels, the use of mobile technology and their real-time expectations to create communities of customer advocates and evangelists.

Of course this opportunity comes with risk. Our marketing has to actually be valuable. Our products and services must meet customer expectations. Our customer service folks must be ready for anything that comes in and our Communications / Public Relations groups must be ready for a potential PR disaster.

But if we can start now to make this shift to customer-first, value-based, always-on marketing, I think our future is bright indeed!

I really enjoyed this article and appreciate the author for writing it and inspiring me to think about the future of marketing. Now tell me, what do you think?

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Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . 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 helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

6 thoughts on “The Future of Marketing

  1. Michael, I like the recap and the view of the future (digital has already messed me up, so I’m ok with that bit!)

    I’m wondering how much of what you are hearing at MarketingProfs aligns with this view, and how much is just trying to keep current marketing mindsets on life support, with new labels and new tactics (ie Content). Maybe inspiration for your Thursday post?

    Marketing must “actually” be valuable. I “actually” want to take this one step further. It is a selfish world, so yes, it needs to be valuable, but that isn’t enough. Here is the litmus test: if you stopped all marketing activities, would it be missed? With your target audience stand up and say Bring It Back!

    In a future where all marketing is valuable, valuable will not be enough. Your marketing must provide value that is more accessible and not simply replaceable. (Aside: what does that say about gating the marketing content that is supposed to provide that value?)

    What happens in the future when we compete on the quality of our marketing product for the audiences attention?

    Ok, stopping before this turns into a blog post of its own! Great post, thanks for sharing!

    — @wittlake

  2. Eric, good question. As with most innovations there appears to a bell curve here. I’m beginning to think we are splitting into a world of customer- first and company-first marketers.

    I think you are right that the future battle ground is in the amount of value or the net quality of our content as perceived by our customers.

    In this future world, company-first marketing is dead. With the world going social, mobile and real time and getting there fast, I think the change is coming faster than we think.

  3. Michael, great post. I am very biased on this, but the importance of marketing data management will grow exponentially as advertising continues to shift to digital technology, social media and real-time interaction management. I enjoyed the post and look forward to adding your blog to my regular reading.

    – Scott
    @scottaeast

    1. Scott, so glad you stopped by and thanks for your comment. You know I agree with you as a big fan of data management and reporting!

      I better up my game now that you’re reading 😉

      Best, Michael

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