The Future of Marketing is Now

In the past few days I’ve noticed a lot of talk about the future of marketing.

Specifically, I listened to an excellent call this week sponsored by the American Marketing Association with executives from Deloitte Digital and Adobe entitled “Build the Right Foundation for Effective Digital Marketing;” I came across a recap of a Adobe’s recent CMO Connect event entitled “Driving Digital Change” with McKinsey partner David Edelman, Beth Comstock, CMO and SVP of GE, Sanjay Gupta, CMO of Allstate, and Laura Desmond, CEO at Starcom MediaVest Group; I read an article entitled “The Future of Social Media Marketing According to HubSpot’s CMO” from the always enlightening HubSpot blog; and just today, I came across Mitch Joel’s post on “The Marketing Agency of the Future” which touched on the issue of how marketing agencies can and should adapt to this rapidly changing landscape.

To top it all off, I also had the pleasure this week of asking David LaPlante, a local Reno marketing icon, what his thoughts were on the future of marketing are as a former Reno-Tahoe AMA “Marketer of the the Year,” former owner of a successful tech company, co-founder and chairman for Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneaurship and Technology, co-founder of Snowcial, and current CMO of the startup Chrysallis. (See, I told you he was impressive!)

So what does it all boil down to? Here’s what I have been able to glean together thus far:

Build the Right Foundation for Effective Digital Marketing

According to Dennis Startsev of Deloitte Digital, the term “digital marketing” is a bit of a misnomer because in many ways, the digital portion of marketing has eclipsed marketing in general in that digital marketing is becoming a very significant portion of marketing, if not the entire part of marketing for many organizations out there.  He noted a need for focused messaging, delivery and positioning, and engaging with markets and customers throughout their life cycle. He also emphasized that organizations will need to become more united and cohesive in order to be able to deliver content quicker, and in more refined and personalized ways.

Below is an overview of the new role of digital marketing:

Future of Digital

Key takeaway? As today’s world becomes increasingly digital, marketing must evolve to meet the needs of the increasingly connected consumer.

Understand What is Required for Driving Digital Change

In David Edelman’s recap of the Adobe CMO Connect event, he summarized the top three issues on the minds of the panelists as they relate to driving change within the organization:

  1. Fixing the talent gap – “Laura Desmond talked about helping talented people retool themselves through training to become not only more data savvy but more fluent in digital. However, there’s no avoiding that turnover is going to be necessary, and many companies are going to need new blood and new skills.”
  2. Scaling skills now – “I got lots of positive feedback when talking about the need for companies to organize centralized service groups because they don’t have the depth of talent yet across the organization.”
  3. Measuring ROI – “ROI today is incomplete — it’s like we’re putting the pieces of an elephant together but don’t have the full picture.”

In short, incremental changes aren’t going to work for the long-term if companies want to succeed in the digital age, rather, the overall approach must be re-imagined.

Listen to What the Experts are Saying; Internalize New Philosophies

Now for the fun part. I can’t imagine a more interesting person’s brain to pick than David Laplante’s when it comes to marketing. While listening to him speak about his new start-up venture recently, I asked him where he thought the future of marketing was headed. To paraphrase, he noted that the future of marketing lies in the hands of HR as companies need to embrace the paradigm shifts taking place in business and also hire the right type of people who are aligned with the interests of their brand, and not necessarily the most skilled. An employee who lives and breathes the brand is more valuable than the most skilled marketer whose passions may lie elsewhere.

His words actually reminded me of an article, “We’re All Marketers Now” from McKinsey Quarterly, that reflects such sentiments:

To avoid being “in for it,” companies of all stripes must not only recognize that everyone is responsible for marketing but also impose accountability by establishing a new set of relationships between the function and the rest of the organization. In essence, companies need to become marketing vehicles, and the marketing organization itself needs to become the customer-engagement engine, responsible for establishing priorities and stimulating dialogue throughout the enterprise as it seeks to design, build, operate, and renew cutting-edge customer-engagement approaches.

In addition this, Laplante noted that the ability for a brand to create meaning in the marketplace and tell an engaging story through branding will outperform other approaches in the future. He gave the example of the brand Red Bull, which grew its following around the ski and snowboard culture through various events and promotions over time that created a very loyal and engaged group of brand advocates. He cited a Red Bull video that was recently found to be three times more engaging than the presidential inauguration speech.


To read more about Red Bull and their engaging approach to marketing, check out this article from Mashable entitled “5 Most Engaged Brands on Social Media.”

In summary, for brands to succeed in the future they will not only have to hire right-minded people, as well as be able to turn their brand’s story into an engaging and meaningful experience for customers.

Now it’s your turn: where do you see the future of marketing headed? How are you or how is your company adapting? What do you think are the most important things to know or keep in mind about this transformation, and what advice do you have for remaining competitive?

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