In past years, and especially prior to the digital media age, the role of marketing was to create awareness, spark interest, fuel desire and create action, but in reality the only accountable element of that was awareness. Marketing has always worked hand in hand with sales, and in those olden days the model required marketers to push to retail, and the salespeople or the retail environment were responsible for the hard push to create action and close the deal.
These days, more and more consumers take the process of decision-making and purchase consideration into their own hands. In some cases I’ve heard numbers that 80% of the purchase process is decided before someone even speaks to a salesperson.
Whether it’s B2B or B2C marketing, now marketing carries a much heavier burden in establishing and creating a relationship with a potential customer than it had traditionally. Marketing is not simply about awareness, interest, desire and action. It’s about the intermediary stages of information-gathering, competitive analysis, customer communication -- and, once a decision is made (either positively or negatively), there’s customer advocacy and retention. What’s more, this process takes place without, in many cases, the brands’ knowledge that there’s even a decision being made.
This is why we’re seeing so much interest in the model of enterprise marketing solutions now vs. just five years ago. This is why marketers are trying to find ways to automate and scale marketing efforts beyond where they historically have been and into a high touch, personalized, data-driven mode. It’s about data being aggregated and used to build customer segments and personalizing content, advertising and offers to match the needs and desires of the target audience. Marketing personalization is more important because marketing carries the burden further down the customer journey.
This is true for every category. Think about buying a car, which is a very considered purchase, or buying a movie ticket, which is more of an impulse buy. The Internet and the wealth of information available to a consumer can support or kill a new model for a car. The same goes for a movie -- just ask Johnny Depp. His last four movies have bombed because of negative critical press plastered around the Web. Remember “The Lone Ranger”? Anyone seen “Transcendence”?
Of course there’s still one age-old truism that gets overlooked: If your marketing promises one experience and you get something radically different, than marketing cannot save you. If your marketing says something will be easy, and it’s actually very hard, your customers will tell each other. If you tell them the product is blue, and it’s actually red, consumers won’t trust you.
Some people view the role of marketing having to expand into product development because these two areas have to match, which is another area where the CMO is gaining more authority. Marketing is not simply a cost basis; it’s a revenue generator. It’s a product development engine. It’s the fuel that keeps your business growing successfully. You have to give it its due, or you risk setting yourself up for failure.
So the next time you have a meeting with your marketing folks, clear your schedule. You might just hear something that will help you in your career path for the next 10 to 15 years to come!