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What Is Marketing Today?

The marketing function, at its core, is supposed to raise awareness in order to increase business. Technology today has enabled marketing to create individual relationships and have measureable direct impact on the bottom-line.

In my previous posts I highlighted the critical importance of customer experience and employee advocacy.  I did so because the modern marketing function has undergone significant changes.

A decade ago things would change on an annualised basis. Now it’s literally changing on a daily basis. Imagine doing a marketing plan today using the same strategies that had generated results in 2007! If one was foolhardy enough to try this there is absolutely no way there would be anything but negative results.

Inspite of these changes organisations still continue with marketing activities that simply don’t do justice to the function and importance marketing has in a business today. A result of this is that very few marketing experienced executives are being invited to join boards of directors.

“Less than half of 1% of board members in the Fortune 1000 were held by active marketers”.

The marketing function, at its core, is supposed to raise awareness in order to increase business. Technology today has enabled marketing to create individual relationships and have measureable direct impact on the bottom-line. Yet, across the region, one sees both private and public organizations spending millions on just awareness campaigns that show no direct impact either on an improving bottom-line or on a reputational index.

With the rising importance of the marketing function shouldn’t we marketers then be responsible for taking the responsibility for delivering the targeted bottom-line?

Today the marketing function has a significant role in increasing business value. Marketing has moved into the information technology arena and marketing heads of many brands make significant technology decisions and investments than the IT function does.  So given the impact of technology todays’ marketing function is very similar to that of being an alchemist. Bringing together critical business strategies and blending the same with technology and data insights to create an appealing and relevant brand experience that generates the targeted business impact both on the bottom line and on reputation.

 How to ensure that marketing stays focused on generating business value?

Here are five areas of practical expertise areas to look into:

  1. Pure Marketing— Strategise, research and discover insights that emphasize the soft elements in experience development and deliver these elements through coordinated communication channels.
  2. Competitive Intelligence— Understand and analyse the marketplace in order to be clear where and how the brand and organisation fits into the landscape and what would be a compelling differentiator.
  3. Content Creator—Have an editorial strategy based on which everything from website copy to ads to videos to sales pitches to whitepapers are funnelled through key individual experts in the marketing function.
  4. Internal PR Developer—Identify key employee advocates and the content created by them, as part of being the marketing team’s content creator, to generate high awareness in appropriate media.
  5. Business Engineer—Own the organisation’s P&L. Marketing costs money but it should also make money. The marketing function should be leading business development and the sales function and help both through creating leads. Sourcing through social media, events and other channels, tracking and providing content for the sales team, to close the leads, should be the main focus of the marketing function. In built, in this engineering role function, is the use of technology be it social media, website related on the front-end or analytics and big data usage in the back end, that aids marketing in giving the business its line-of-sight to sustainability.

These five functional areas of modern marketing may seem a lot but these are the current must-haves functionally in order to provide positive impact to the bottom-line.  But to stay ahead of the curve additionally there are three key competency areas that a modern marketer has to have:

  1. Adaptability—Being able to pivot, on strategy and execution, and make necessary changes and undertake whatever it takes to keep up and stay ahead will help in bringing forth brand experiences that are valued by the stakeholders.
  2. Managing others— For the marketing function to efficiently and effectively deliver it cannot be done as a ‘on-man-show’ or as a ‘one-team show’. It’s an organization wide activity, with specific roles and deliverables, for each function. The marketing team, being in the pole position, needs to have authentic and empathetic leadership abilities in managing others to obtain the required inputs.
  3. Understand and Appreciate Data—Technology today has given marketing a direct view of human behaviour. The data, when read and understood, provides significant insights that can and does aid in creating effective and value generating campaigns. Big Data is the ‘here and now’.

As technological changes, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning gain more traction, the marketing function will further undergo changes. Investing in your marketing function, both in terms of technology and manpower, will be prudent in ensuring business sustainability.