There has never been a more difficult and, yet, more exciting time in marketing than today. New technologies, new trends and new customer behaviors are transforming the industry like never before, creating huge opportunities for today’s new age marketers. The pandemic has changed the discourse. But in the process, the goals have expanded: now it’s about rethinking effective marketing strategies due to reduced budgets, managing remote or hybrid workforces, establishing an emotional connection with employees and connecting with the communities.
A time to reinvent yourself
In these unprecedented times and in our digital age, we must redefine conventional approaches to marketing to succeed. The future of marketing will be about challenging convention, leading innovation and shaping culture.
The focus will be on reshaping the company’s vision, on “marrying the art and science of marketing,” as Linda Boff, CMO of General Electric, did. She singularly led GE’s transformation from a 135-year-old company into a “Silicon Valley start-up” through innovative content, digital marketing and new media partnerships.
This is also the time when CMOs must reinvent their raison d’être. Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar is a perfect example of this: he created a $250 million fund to help small businesses survive the pandemic. As he says, “there is a time to sell…and a time to serve”.
As the focus shifts to business enablement, companies will deploy new marketing tools for brand enhancement, advertising and portfolio management. Virtual events and augmented reality will be part of every marketer’s arsenal. In a digital and connected ecosystem, martech will be a critical business enabler. According to Chiefmartec, there are 8,000 martech solutions on the market today, indicating a growth of more than 5,000% over the past decade. Their role will only be greater.
As we move into a digitally integrated world, customer engagement will go phygital, CX will go virtual, and business will be real. Procter & Gamble is a good example: by launching a new platform where people meet virtually as “avatars” and accelerating omnichannel customer experiences through gamification, the company has actually done more business during the pandemic.
Go beyond business
In this new normal, it will be incumbent to bring in new talent in specialized areas. Hiring analytically skilled and data-driven marketers will become the norm. Companies need to implement agile performance loops to break down silos and better prepare employees for future business volatility.
Post-pandemic, we are seeing a rethink within organizations on diversity and inclusion issues. Organizations will have to challenge themselves to know what type of people to select and what is really needed to promote diversity. This is in response to how diversity and inclusion issues affect the workplace today.
Marketing must drive real change in the business and be willing to take risks. Nike risked more than its reputation when it jumped into the anti-racism movement with a reworked “For once, don’t do it” message, a deviation from its powerful “Just Do It” logo. This use of a marketing message for social integration paid off and had a positive impact on the business of the company.
Going forward, marketers will need to take on greater responsibilities to drive innovation, build capabilities, and take responsibility for growth. With emerging technologies as the new frontier, CMOs will be tasked with more than just marketing.
But we also risk reaching a point of marketing innovation maturity, especially as the novelty factor wears off. Therefore, marketing managers will have to constantly rethink and redefine their business strategies. And at a time when societal goals and business goals intersect, this is indeed a watershed moment for marketing!
The author is CMO, India, Capgemini
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