Marketing is in the throes of a major transformation, much like sales was in the 90s and 2000s (anybody remember goldmine?). Everything in marketing is getting instrumented, and everybody in the world is being connected. If that weren’t enough, there is a major behavioral transformation in the way we consume information, in the way we evaluate products, and in the way we make purchase decisions. Like all major transformations, this will be a journey and not an event. So, what does 2014 hold for marketing?
Here is our perspective:
Content Marketing will explode, and we will be inundated with content. Writing has been democratized. Publishing has been democratized. Companies are taking to ‘content marketing’ as a source of lead generation with a vengeance. The good news is that there will be a lot of content created. The not so good news for marketers is that “standing out” and getting a “return on content investment” will become that much more challenging.
Journalism as we know it, will die. Marissa Mayer’s hiring of Katie Couric was no accident. As companies hire journalists, ‘news creation’ becomes even more capitalistic. When reasonable writing skills can get you published on Wired and Huffington Post…pure journalists will struggle to add value, be unbiased and stay independent. PR firms will have to find new ways to add value to their clients. The business models of everybody associated with the newspaper industry will need a re-assessment and re-think, and in that process, journalism itself will be turned on its head.
Marketing is going to get even more complicated. Somebody wisely said – “Half of all advertising dollars are wasted. You just don’t know which half.” Today, you can measure everything (or almost everything) – visitors, visits, registrations, MQL, SQL, opportunities, dollars…there are a zillion metrics. Connecting the dots is not easy. Data however is not the same as information, and information is not the same as intelligence, and intelligence is not the same as wisdom.
The market in general will move from ‘data’ to ‘information’…most marketers will begin to connect the dots. Intelligence and wisdom will take more time. This is a paradigm shift in marketing. It is a challenging time to be a marketer, but at the same time marketing has become more intellectually invigorating. Marketers can benefit by being part of this transformation, or be left behind.
Marketing will go from being ‘data obsessed’ to being ‘data focused’. Five blind men and the elephant – One person thought the elephant was a wall, another a snake, and yet another a rope etc., depending on which part of the elephant they were exposed to. Each of them was right in their own way, and yet they were all wrong. Initially, marketing was all about colors, graphics, branding, logos etc. Then, marketing became all about brand and PR. More recently, marketing has become all about numbers and ‘A-B testing’ and optimization amongst other things. Each of that is right, and all of them are wrong. You get music when the seven notes are played harmoniously. Marketing is like the elephant – a magnificent beast that is about colors, PR, branding, data, A-B testing etc. … but they all need to work well together to create revenue.
The story-tellers will flourish. Leading edge companies will begin to have ‘story-tellers’ on their marketing staff. As content explodes, reader-resonance will become increasingly difficult to achieve. Smart marketers will resort to telling compelling stories – stories that inform and entertain, and that appeal to both the intellect and to emotion will resonate and stand out amidst the massive amount of information that will be created and distributed.
The CMO will need a ‘mini-CIO’. Gartner predicts that CMOs will spend more than CIOs on software by 2017. The reality is that most CMOs are very non-technical. It is true that in today’s SaaS world a CMO doesn’t necessarily need to be a technologist. Yet, given the number of different software products the marketing function needs today, and the need for some kind of integration between the products, a resident technologist in the marketing organization will become more of a necessity than before.
If the above predications are capitalized on, the 2014 marketing journey will be a successful one. Yet the transformation will never end, and it’s not meant to. As consumer behaviors change, so must the marketing approach. Long live the journey!