Does Marketing Work?
I ask the
above question to restate the obvious: Marketing influences billions of dollars worth of purchases every single day. Many years ago I was at a Club Med, and another guest said to me, “I
never listen to advertising or marketing -- it doesn’t influence me.” I responded, “Oh, yeah -- then how did you end up at Club Med?” I was met with silence and a
little bit of disdain for pointing out the obvious fact that this woman had only heard about Club Med through advertising.
Well, that argument won’t happen much longer, because 2014 is the year when marketing becomes 100% quantifiable. The fact is, marketing works, and soon it will be impossible to say that it doesn’t.
This is the kind of article that usually gets people posting comments telling me that I "missed something” or insulting me in some way -- but those are the same people with a chip on their shoulder and too much time on their hands. I never take them seriously. The truth is, prior to 2014, most companies viewed most marketing as an expense. CEOs and CFOs everywhere are beholden to their boards; when times are tight and they’re forced to cut back, marketing has invariably been one of the first things to go.
The reason marketing was such a defenseless category? The metrics simply weren’t there for a significant portion of the budget, and it’s hard to defend millions of dollars worth of expenditure without concrete numbers to justify it. No argument there.
Programmatic, algorithmic, attributable: these are the words that define the future of marketing. These are the words of mathematicians, and marketers are quickly adopting them. Chief data scientist, chief marketing technology officer, marketing analyst: These are the titles of the future, and marketers love creative titles almost more than anyone else in the business organization. We’ve been searching for proof for years. Just refer back to marketing articles over the last 40 years and count how many times people reference something as “the Holy Grail of marketing.”
The enterprise-marketing stack, or enterprise marketing platform, or whatever you want to call it, is here. There are three tiers: data, execution and reporting. Data is clearly the realm of the DMPs. Execution is the realm of the LumaScape and the thousands of interchangeable companies that enable a message to be delivered to a consumer. The reporting layer, for better or worse, is a service layer that currently belongs to the agencies (at least until someone figures out how to create the true marketing dashboard, which very well could be in 2014).
There are companies large and small laying claim to these categories of the marketing stack, and they’re doing well. Buzzwords like “artificial intelligence” and “cloud” are thrown in for good measure to make the complicated seem even more complex. All of these tools exist to do one thing: help brands convince a consumer to buy their product, usually when products are wanted rather than needed. This industry of data-driven marketing, according to a recent DMA study, spends as much as $156 billion, and it’s being spent to ensure consumers continue being consumers.
So I ask again: Does marketing work? Hell, yeah it does! Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a trend. 156 billion times -- that is an industry focused on proving its worth to businesses everywhere.
So this coming year, regardless of what happens to the economy, keep an eye on the companies that are doing well and leading the charge in “marketing technology.” These are the companies that will sustain growth regardless of the strength or weakness of general markets. These are the companies that can prove marketing’s ROI, and will define marketing in the coming decade.
These are the companies that can prove, once and for all, that marketing works, and is significantly more than just a cost.