Looking To the Future

Over the past six weeks, I have shared with you some insights about the future of marketing from some of the smartest minds in marketing today. Now, it’s your turn to tell us your insights. What do you think the future of marketing holds?

We tapped the Economist Intelligence Unit to survey almost 500 high-level marketing executives from around the world to get a real sense of what’s on all of your minds.

The results are insightful, encouraging, and exciting. Why? Because when you step back and look at the overall big picture, it tells me that, more than ever, marketing is in charge and the future is really, really bright for marketers everywhere. We are at the center of business and if we make the right investments we are going to find ourselves setting strategy, driving revenue, and shaping the future of our own organizations. A real “Marketing First” world.

I would strongly recommend you read the report in its entirety. There is a ton of insight in here. But let me give you a few of my highlights:

  • Over 80% of all marketers say that their organizations will need to undergo dramatic changes in order to keep up with increased technical and consumer demands 68% of marketers feel they are viewed as a cost center today; however that is going to shift dramatically. In fact, in three to five years, 80% of marketers say they will be seen as driving revenue for their companies
  • While roughly a third of all marketers say they own the customer relationship and engagement today, that shifts dramatically in three to five years as nearly 75%(!) of marketers say that they will own end-to-end customer engagement
  • Marketers’ #1 investment over the next 12 months is in making a shift to digital marketing and engagement; perhaps not surprisingly, they also say that the top 2 areas of skill development in their organizations are in the areas of Marketing operations/technology and digital engagement.
  • The importance of data and technology to make these shifts can’t be understated with more than 80% of marketers saying they will use data and technology to connect with customers and engage them in a conversation to build advocacy and trust over the next three years.

When I step back and look at the data–what I see are six major trends emerging:

  1. Marketing is shifting from a cost center to a revenue generator
  2. Marketing will become the Chief Customer Advocate in an organization
  3. Marketing is moving from an era of mass marketing and advertising to and era of engagement marketing
  4. Marketing needs to invest in new digital skills and operational expertise – marketing is shifting from an art form to art & science
  5. Marketing must leverage technology to succeed in this world of individual engagement at scale
  6. Key technologies like Internet-of-Things and real-time personalized mobile technologies will shape the future of marketing

So what are we as marketers to do? To me, this says that for marketers to succeed we are going to need to make some major shifts in thinking and investment. We are going to need to invest in new skills to manage digital engagement, data, and technology. We are probably going to need to organize our teams differently. And, we will likely have whole new functions, such as Marketing Operations, emerge to make the rest of the organization more effective in this new world.

Marketers need to embrace technology at a fundamentals level and leverage it to help them scale and talk to their customers with a singular purpose in mind: forming long-term, individualized, durable relationships.

Over the next 15 weeks—I’ll spend time here sharing thoughts, suggestions, and insights around specific items from the research that will hopefully be useful to you as you navigate this transition and rethink your approach to marketing over the next 3-5 years.

After you read the survey results and report, please weigh in below if you agree with the other marketers or have different views – discussion is always great! And, as always, if you’re just visiting this series of posts, you can start at the beginning of this journey here.

I look forward to figuring out this new Marketing First world together!