Digital and the Future of Marketing

When we think of the future of marketing, we often think of our customers. What trends are they adopting? Which devices? Where are they and how can I reach them? But there’s a double-sided impact to the future of marketing – and that is to do with the future of marketers.

There have been some massive improvements in the world of technology – with automated content and engagement platforms seeming to do amazing work. Just look at the journalism robots created by Associated Press that now publish around 3000 stories every quarter. This is journalism content “without a human byline”. It is a cocktail of 1 part excitement, 1 part absolute dread. After all, what happens when those “journo bots” turn their attention to marketing?

It’s time for us to grapple with the future of marketing

I recently spoke at the Marketo MarketingNation roadshow – and discussed our marketing-technology future. I will leave you to watch the video in your own good time, but I will also raise a couple of points:

  • Data is not your only answer – you need to work with the PANDA principles to deliver broad and deep value as a marketer
  • You need to create not inherit the future – what is the future you’d like to see? If you have a vision for a creative and vibrant marketing career, it’s time for you to step forward and voice those ideas
  • Time to skill up – if you don’t have any tech skills, it’s time to work on that. As we rush towards an increasingly connected customer experience model, technology will feature more and more. It’s essential you at least have the foundations (this is covered in the presentation)
  • Get some digital muscle on your Board – the same principles apply to Boards. Without the digital expertise available at a strategic level, you’re business longevity will decline. It’s time to bring diversity and divergent thinking onto your Board.

Autobots, Decepticons, Technology and the New World Order #MarketingNation

marketoWe all say that the world has changed. That the customer is at the centre of our business and marketing strategies. We say that our marketing teams are going to spend more on technology than our tech teams. And we say that customer experience is at the heart of what we do as businesses.

But is this all talk? Or is it smoke and mirrors?

On Friday, August 28, 2015, the Marketo Marketing Nation roadshow rolls into town – and the agenda promises to answer these questions and more.

With keynotes from Marketo CEO, Phil Fernandez and firebrand CMO of Xero, Andy Lark, it promises to be a great day of market and marketing insight. And also a day of action.

  • Charles Ross, Senior Editor Asia-Pacific, The Economist Intelligence Unit is speaking on the rise of the marketer: driving engagement, experience and revenue
  • Andrew Lark, CMO, Xero will be discussing the connected customer: Why and how enterprises must transform to achieve greatness
  • Jennifer Arnold, Head of Marketing, SAP Australia and NZ looks at digital engagement: Australia’s performance through the eye of the customer
  • Rose Herceg, Chief Strategy Officer, STW Group and Author of The Power Book will examine the agency of the future
  • Cheryl Chavez, VP Product, Marketo will share what’s new in the world of personalised engagement marketing
  • Lara Brownlow from LinkedIn will share five key trends for marketers
  • Chris Savage, Growth Accelerator, PR Leader, Inspiring Business Advisor will explain how you can keep yourself relevant in a changing world.

There will also be customer panels and plenty of opportunities for networking.

After the lunch break, I am speaking on the way that technology is not just changing marketing but also IT – establishing a new world order. And it is in this new world order where marketers need IT skills and IT teams need marketing skills. It’s like the world of The Transformers. Who is the Autobot? Who is the Decepticon? And what do we need to do to explore our shared future?

If you are coming along to the conference, be sure to say hello. And if not, check out my live tweeting at #MarketingNation or live streams on Periscope or Meerkat.

Six Marketing Visionaries Look to the Future

The Economist Intelligence Unit has interviewed six marketing visionaries who are sharing their insights of what the future of marketing looks like.  The “Future of Marketing” initiative is sponsored by Marketo, and publishes conversations with Seth Godin, John Hagel, Aditya Joshi, Marc Mathieu, Jim Stengel and myself. It makes for great, and varied reading, with each person taking a particular path to the future:

  • Seth Godin encourages us to make stories worth telling. He argues that marketing is about everything and that today’s marketer must be embedded within what  the company makes, working and pushing towards what the customer wants.
  • John Hagel says that marketing is just experiencing the tip of the iceberg in terms of transformative change. We are going to see more marketers having to work with what he calls the “three As” – attract, assist, affiliate. The “power of pull” means we need to work to attract customers, help pre and post purchase, and find new models to help customers help each other.
  • Gavin Heaton discusses PANDA – a framework for the future of marketing. Tapping into purpose, analytics, networks, digital and art (yes art), marketing will not only remain relevant as a business and consumer facing profession, it will help drive brands and companies to deliver greater value to its stakeholders, customers and networks.
  • Aditya Joshi looks at the skill base at the marketers of the future. And by future, he means now. Clearly we need to be investing in marketing teams to build out strategic thinking, analysis capabilities to derive insights and develop actionable plans and technology abilities to help organisations straddle marketing and IT.
  • Marc Mathieu also speaks of massive change. Technology is infusing how we connect with people, learn from them, connect with entrepreneurs and engage with audiences. But perhaps the most challenging aspect is a central shift in purpose – “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling; now it’s about finding a truth and sharing it”.
  • Jim Stengel breaks the future into three components, personalisation, automation and purpose (yes it’s a theme). He also flags storytelling as a mechanism to encompass the whole approach. “You don’t have a story unless you have purpose, have ambition, and are trying to make a difference in the world. More and more, people care about where brands come from”.

Take your time and read one of these interviews per day. There are insights that you don’t need to wait five years for – they are practices that you can embed in your thinking now and prepare for out to 2020. After all, the future is a moving feast. Take your seat at the table.

Marketing Led Sales – a new era for Hubspot and CRM

Back in the beginning of 2013, I released a research report into the field of marketing automation. It investigated the challenges faced by marketers – from the explosion in digital and social channels to the newly emerging connected consumer and sought to map out the strengths of the various marketing technology vendors and their software offerings. In this report, I had identified that:

HubSpot looks to upset the apple cart.

With the focus on inbound marketing I predicted that HubSpot was well placed to become a future category leader.

At the recent INBOUND2014 conference, HubSpot announced a bold new offering – HubSpot CRM. Now, HubSpot, along with many other marketing automation platforms have long provided a simple CRM-style database – or tight integration to dedicated customer relationship management platforms such as Salesforce. But this feels different. It is different. It is FREE – as part of your HubSpot subscription.

But it’s not the pricing (or lack thereof) that feels revolutionary. It’s the fact that the HubSpot CRM reverses the priority of CRM – from sales first to marketing first. So now, rather than CRM and sales leading the customer process, HubSpot reaches out through its marketing platform to engage customers and then automatically connects them through to the sales teams seamlessly. The CRM platform works almost behind the scenes, logging your sales emails, phone calls and leads as they are made, not after the fact. And because it is part of the one platform, the marketing data that has been accumulated through various touch points, from web, to download, to webinar and so on, is also immediately available to the sales team as the relationship moves closer to conversion.

This new extension to an already powerful mid-market solution will strengthen what is already an attractive software platform. More importantly, it presents small and medium businesses with a compelling proposition – all in one, integrated sales and marketing automation.

And while this is a welcome mid-market addition, I am most excited about what this means for those organisations actively engaged in strategic digital marketing. Sure, most companies are shifting to digital, but those organisations with a mature approach to digital will be able to quickly deploy this kind of solution to create a competitive advantage. With HubSpot CRM, customers – and the customer experience – is more tightly connected to the sales process. It’s marketing led sales, not sales driven marketing. And this is a revolution that has been waiting in the wings.

Now I can’t wait to see what the next act brings.

Disrupt Your Strategy – Planning for Audiences not Generations

I have never been a fan of demographic profiling. Sure, this information, at scale, can reveal certain things about a population – and this can be useful to understand whether there might be a connection between our age and (for example) our propensity to over-eat. Or contract disease. Or buy new cars every four years.

But populations don’t interest me. They feel like a dead weight around my sense of, and interest in, humanity. Instead, I prefer audiences – which is perhaps why I studied theatre rather than statistics.

It’s also why I am continually fascinated by digital technology and transformation – and it is why social media continues to attract the attention of people, corporations and governments. For digital transformation is not just about bringing the non-digital world online – it’s challenging the very nature of what we consider “our selves” to be.

As marketers, we are constantly drawn to the idea of demographics – the cashed up profiling of the Baby Boomers, the anxious, try-harder Gen X-ers and the slacker Gen Ys. But like any generalisation, these labels are easily unpicked. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who are slackers and plenty of cashed up, power wielding Gen X-ers. And Gen Y are just starting to flex their creative, financial and intellectual powers – and there is more goodness to come. Rather than simply relying on this style of profiling, we should be working harder to understand these audiences. We need to map their behaviours, attitudes and interests, not just their age, sex and location.

This is why I quite like the work that marketing automation firm, Marketo, has done on Generation Z. And while, yes, they have started out with the age-focused label, the research carried out by agency, Sparks and Honey, reveals the patterns of behaviour, interests, attitudes and insights that can help build a deeper understanding of this audience. While the data reflects a US-based audience, there are cultural parallels that are useful indicators such as:

  • Do-Gooders – an interest in making a difference in the world
  • Shift FROM Facebook – Facebook lost its allure when the parents arrived. Gen Z are embracing newer platforms like snapchat, secret and whisper
  • Creation trumps sharing – Gen Z embrace the prosumer ethic of digital media creativity.

Generation-Z-Marketings-Next-Big-Audience

But to really understand this “Gen Z” audience, I would go further. I wouldn’t stop at the age of 19. I would ask:

  • Why would my brand be relevant to audiences exhibiting these behaviours
  • Why would these audiences choose to purchase my product/service/thing
  • Which values embodied by my brand augments the life, behaviour, experience or purpose of this audience
  • How do these behavioural profiles help me understand my customers regardless of age / demographics

And when it comes to planning, insight and future proofing your brand, I’d look to opportunities to self-disrupt your strategy. Ditch the path of lazy profiling, put the work in to really understand your audiences, and then invite them into the process of creating a brand that has a purpose. Start by delving into the data behind the Sparks and Honey research (below) – and then work on your own business by starting with the audiences you rely upon.