Creatures evolve in ways that increase the likelihood of survival. For humans, such changes now extend past our physical form, allowing our minds to embrace this era of technological evolution we incited long ago. Yet, as the rate of innovation increases dramatically with the birth of every new gadget, marketers and the brands they support must also evolve at breakneck speed in order to remain relevant.
Because the consumer landscape has changed so drastically in a relatively short period of time, marketers are no longer bound by channels. Instead, leaders in the space now work to develop relevant, personalized, and data-driven campaigns that allow their brands to respond quickly and adapt to market demands. Where marketers were once responsible for disseminating their brand's message to the masses, the majority now pauses to collect feedback from customers, taking in much more than they could ever dish out. The modern marketer listens more than they talk, allowing them to cultivate informed strategies that connect with consumers on a deeper level. Money no longer does all the talking-the consumers do.
"For literally the last half of the 20th century, a marketer's job was pretty clear: Pay an ad agency a ton of money to have an idea, produce expensive TV and radio commercials, spend even more money on print media, and hope the idea he came up with resonated with his customer," says Jane Paolucci, vice president of global marketing and communications for Sitecore. "No one knew what worked and what didn't, there was no dialogue with consumers beyond the focus group, and only one thing was certain-if you wanted your campaign to be more effective, you should spend more money."
But, over the past decade, the average marketer's focus has shifted. While the brand still matters, and marketers must still actively work to develop brand awareness and relevance, they must also now interact with consumers directly to build rapport and move the conversation forward. Paolucci emphasizes that marketers need to have a clear picture of their customer and engage with them in a personalized, relevant fashion to help drive the customer's success and their brand's success simultaneously. Ultimately, marketers aim to nurture and encourage lifelong customers.
Tom Wentworth, CMO at Acquia, believes marketers now occupy a thought leadership position within their organizations, as they are responsible for releasing ideas out into the open and connecting with consumers across mediums. Yet, while social media and mobile offer vast amounts of insight, many companies still operate within silos, causing a fragmented view of the consumer. Such organizations fail to develop the infrastructure necessary to maintain the omnichannel experience customers have come to expect and demand. Marketers of yesteryear functioned within a funnel, but according to Wentworth, today's marketing interactions more closely resemble a plate of spaghetti. There are multiple customer touchpoints that intertwine, eliminating the traditional funnel and replacing it with the need to develop consistency no matter which channel consumers prefer.
For instance, in years past, business students and future marketers typically learned about the Four Ps of marketing-product, place, price, and promotion. However, as Eric Courville, vice president of marketing and corporate development at North Plains, highlights, marketing is no longer linear, requiring marketers to reassess their strategic approach. Instead, Courville believes marketers must operate under the Four "Rs":
- REACH the audience by inserting yourself and your brand into the conversation.
- Develop a RELEVANT message by understanding your target audience.
- Generate REACTIONS by creating a compelling call-to-action and be responsive.
- Be RESPONSIBLE by ensuring your message aligns and complies with your corporate brand.
According to Kim Ann King, CMO of SiteSpect, the proliferation of contact channels is both a blessing and a curse for the modern marketer. While it's a blessing because marketers can track every behavior on the Web, creating data that can be mined to identify trends, engage customers, and analyze areas for improvement, it's a curse because the Web opens up so many ways to reach customers, making it mind-boggling to select the right sites, tools, and channels to use.
King emphasizes that the modern marketer requires much more organization, data analysis skills, and the ability to juggle numerous responsibilities. However, to succeed, marketers must also revisit the skills that carried them thus far and allow their lessons to inform current and future strategies. "Don't despair," King says. "What got you to where you are can help you get to where you need to go, as long as you continually update your skills and leverage your strengths. But if you stay still, you're doomed to be obsolete in no time. No person can rest on their current skill set or past achievements and remain in the game for long."
Bob Buch, CEO of SocialWire, notes that some of today's most successful and skilled marketers are practically data scientists. These individuals are obsessed with metrics, measurement, and data, as they look to immerse themselves in feedback and analyze consumer information from every angle. Though the growing number of contact channels presents new challenges for the modern marketer, the data collected also offers new opportunities to develop specialized campaigns they never could've attempted through older technologies. The modern marketer must not only exhibit the creative nature of yesterday, but also incorporate the analytical prowess of today. In tandem, these skills will enable leaders across industries to develop personalized strategies that target each consumer with a new level of accuracy and relevance as they work to cultivate loyalty and brand advocacy.