It has been over four decades since P&G ushered in the era of brand marketing. Plethora of great global brands have been built on the foundation of tantalizing mass marketing messages through scale media like TV, Radio, and Print. Direct Marketing and Email Marketing were the next wave, albeit to drive direct sales vs. brand building. Google was the logical next disruption to the existing marketing paradigm away from “Push Centric” to “Pull Centric” model. Facebook provided the powerful context of Social Media Marketing where consumers share a treasure horde of geographic, demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, and transactional information with the popular social network.
Several forces are at play in the evolution of marketing over last five decades. Let’s explore a few of them:
1. Consumer Centric World. Brands (both established and emerging) are realizing that their success is increasingly defined by a laser focus on consumer preferences and behavior. They need to customize their marketing messages to target and segment the right consumer at the right time with their unique needs and desires. Businesses don’t get to create and define their brands any longer; consumers create and define the brand value. Brands that understand and leverage the concept of consumer as the center of gravity in our brave new world will rule as the future masters of the universe.
2. Data Centric World. Data is proliferating faster than the speed of light today between countless engagements and transactions in massive local, social, and mobile ecosystems. Consumers, especially the Millennials and the Gen Y community, are opening up their lives, habits, attitudes, purchasing patterns, and behavioral preferences in an unprecedented fashion. Welcome to the world’s largest democracy: Big Data Democracy (BDD). BDD is here to stay even as we institute prudent privacy and safety guidelines in the mix. BDD is ignited by data on steroids: real time, dynamic information that can be sliced and diced as actionable information to reach the right consumer at the right time. Brand dictatorships of the past have no choice but to abandon their despotic turfs and join the BDD. Consumers would welcome them into the BDD as long as there is an implicit trust of highly relevant, personalized, and customized messages and offers that respect their base line intelligence and individual identities.
3. One to One World. The industry has been buzzing about one to one marketing for as long as I can remember. When we sold the first wave of CRM companies to the ad agency holding companies in the late 1990s, we were keenly discussing the concept of one to one marketing. The progressive evolution of the marketing world since then (email marketing to pull marketing to social marketing to mobile marketing) has centered around the promise of one to one marketing. Yet I believe we are not even in the first inning of that amazing promise world of one to one marketing. Today we have the data, tools, technologies, devices, and consumer acceptance to fulfill the brand’s promise of one to one marketing.
4. Technology Centric World. Consumers have become incredibly comfortable with the world of technology around them. They are eager to try new devices and tools (think PayPal, ApplePay, OpenTable, Uber, Electronic Boarding Passes and so on). Brands have fallen behind. They are still operating with legacy systems and archaic analytics. Their CMS platforms don’t communicate to sister brands or foreign geographies and nationals. They continue to live in a world of denial around the power of digital and mobile marketing. Major software titans have powerful array of tools and systems that can integrate and simplify tasks across a global organization. Think of Open Source Platforms like Drupal and DNN. Think also the tug of war between four proprietary platforms: Adobe, Oracle, IBM, and Salesforce.com. I believe Google, Microsoft, and Facebook will join the party very soon either organically or through acquisitions. These platforms provide an end to end solution to create, manage, distribute, and analyze content, messages, and offers in real time across omnichannel ecosystems and devices. Yet many brands are stuck with their old way of doing business vs. leveraging the power of new platforms to engage and transact 10 times better with their prospects and customers. They are sticking to their old habits in an exponentially changing world at their own peril.
So what’s the role of Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT) at a Global Brand?
The answer is simple: CMO and CIO are not talking to each other. The Marketing Department is busy strategizing around new consumer behavior and engagements. The IT Department is busy servicing legacy systems. They enjoy their individual turfs and have zero incentive to change their behavior on their own. As they say, habit dies hard. When Strategy doesn’t speak to Technology, you have an inevitable disaster waiting to happen. Consumers want relevant, timely, and useful engagements now; those interactions require modern CMS platforms and data analytic systems to execute properly. Marketing can be a very potent means to solve acute business pain points. Technology can be a great enabler of creative and strategy formulated by Marketing. The CMT of the Global Brand has the unique challenge and opportunity to harmonize Marketing and Technology functions. The CMT role will help today’s Global Brand to move forward to sustain and grow their decades (if not centuries) old brand equity and power. Let’s continue the conversation about the role of CMT in today’s Big Data Democracy ecosystem!