Blast from the Past: What Has Changed In Marketing from 5 Years Ago?

October 2, 2017 Nicole Bump

Think back to about five years ago. Could you have imagined that we’d already be riding in driverless cars? That Americans would be checking their mobile phones 8 billion times per day? Or that the CMO role would be spending more on technology than the CIO?

Marketing is a new world from just a few years ago—which our Marketing Advisory Board discussed at our August meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ken Bernhardt, Regents Professor of Marketing Emeritus, Georgia State University, discusses what he believes to be the six biggest changes in marketing over the past five years in this video, which include:

  • The changing consumer. This includes the rise and importance of Millennials, changes in buying behavior and the customer journey, and the fact that the consumer has more information at his/her fingertips, courtesy of mobile.
  • Marketing’s relationship with the CFO. More than ever, marketers need to be producing ROI. Our accountability has changed dramatically.
  • The explosion of new media means marketers must learn to properly allocate their resources across many more channels.
  • Another explosion in marketing technology and big data has contributed to significant change in the marketer's role, demanding competence in technology.
  • The rise of the customer journey and customer experience replaces a more narrow view of how we sell products and services.

Here's what he has to say about each of these developments and how it impacts marketers:

These fast-moving trends in data and technology have enabled marketing to both better support sales transition from a more anecdotal organization to a more fact-based organization. We can architect our own technology solutions with little reliance on IT, tightening our ability to accurately track and optimize performance.

Additionally, all this changing data and technology, combined with incredible pace of change, has led to big changes in the role of marketing leadership. Leaders must now "connect a lot of dots" that didn't need to be connected before, especially when it comes to successfully interpreting and applying customer data. Done successfully, "dot connecting" can help you to find ways to improve what Scott Neslin calls synergy—separate efforts that end up having improved impact in combination.

How how can we address this issue of connecting the data dots? It's a group effort across the marketing organization. The CMO must help to set the vision and encourage left- and right-brained to move their thought processes a bit toward the center to connect the dots. For example, how can we get the creative team to leverage more quantitative data? And how can we get the analytics folks to think more creatively?

With all these new tools, media and the burgeoning amounts of data available to marketers, Kay Lemon, Professor of Marketing, Carroll School of Management at Boston College, suggested that the role of marketing leader may need to adapt into a navigator of sorts that helps the business to “dot connect” and suggested Eli Lilly’s CLUE Center (Customer Learning, Understanding and Education Center) as an example of what this dot-connecting role could look like. This physical location brings all customer insights into one location for all employees to easily access and utilize. 

Dealing with increasing data, expanding media channels and building an effective marketing technology stack to manage it all into a successful customer experience is daunting at best—and certainly a different animal than five years ago.

If your brand is muddling through, you may also want to check out: How to Build a Humanistic Marketing Ecosystem.

About the Author

Nicole Bump

Nicole Bump, Senior Content Manager, is responsible for developing the Harte Hanks content strategy, bringing this strategy to life through the editorial board, generating much of the company's content and managing the Harte Hanks social presence. A writer at heart, Nicole also enjoys evaluating ways in which new technologies can enable better content production, distribution and measurement.

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