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This chapter is from the book

How ART Will Impact the Future of Marketing

  • “We’re in an era where all internal corporate functions are changing as a consequence of technology—but none as fast or as greatly as marketing.”
  • —John Kennedy, CMO, Xerox

Customer expectations are increasing. As we’ve touched on, marketing must have three characteristics to succeed in this new environment:

  1. Authentic: Customers can see behind the curtain. They respond better to humans than to international conglomerates. And they’re looking for an engaging story to get behind, not another product pitch. Marketers must expand their role across business units to ensure that all elements of a corporation are living up to the brand promise and purpose they were so integral in building. That means marketers must spend far more time collaborating, cajoling, and coordinating. Messages to the outside world used to come only from marketing and communications departments; now they come from everywhere. Those messengers must all be on the same page. Equally, corporate strategy and development must be part of a consistent whole.
  2. Relevant: In an age when your marketing message is one of more than 500 your target audience gets per day, you’ve got to ensure that you stand out. Customers are getting choosy and expect you to get in touch only when you’re saying something they want to hear. You must have the capacity to understand as much as possible about your customer and the agility to tailor and target campaigns to individuals.
  3. Transparent: Transparency in marketing has both internal and external elements. Internally, transparency means understanding among departments, with data shared effectively and greater collaboration and communication taking place. Externally, it refers to the fact that the corporate iron curtain no longer exists and that your customers have almost as many opportunities as you do to learn about the inner workings of your company.

Marketers can build a personal connection with customers now. They can use their insight to design messages and products that better fit customer needs and priorities. They can reach out to customers at the times customers want to be spoken to, cutting through the noise of a thousand branded messages through the delivery of relevance and value.

Clearly, the marketer’s role and responsibilities must expand to cover these areas:

  1. Experience: This is the most recognizable responsibility for “old school” marketers. The marketer must be responsible for how a customer experiences their brand. Every time a brand reaches out to the customer, and every time the customer reaches out to the brand, the experience and interaction should be governed by the marketing department. Of course, nowadays, customers can get in touch with brands in far more places. Likewise, brands have far more ways to get in touch with customers, leading to an exponential rise in complexity.
  2. Insight: Tied to the data explosion, marketers must become adept number crunchers. Marketers must be able to understand data and translate it into actionable insight for peers within and beyond the marketing department. They must be able to find where data is, choose the right data to take note of, gather it quickly enough, and, importantly, work with other departments to ensure the accessibility of data gathered in touchpoints not directly under the marketers’ control.
  3. Agility: From the speed with which marketers can gauge a campaign’s success, to the speed at which a mistaken or ill-judged tweet goes viral, to the speed at which new channels and platforms spring up, to the speed with which customers expect responses, to the success of “real-time” marketing campaigns, everything seems to be getting faster. Marketers are under pressure to ensure that the departments they work in, the customer touchpoints they’re responsible for, and the whole company that employs them is equipped with the systems, processes, and culture to be agile enough to flourish in this rapidly changing world.

By focusing on authenticity, relevance, transparency, and taking responsibility for experience, insight, and agility, marketers not only can survive in an era of radically heightened customer expectation, but also thrive. Now more than ever, marketing is about customer relationships, customer understanding, and ways to deliver customer value.

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