We’re living in a Marketing First world. If you haven’t yet experienced this shift for yourself—bear with me; it’s coming.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve dug deeply into the results of “The Rise of the Marketer,” a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of Marketo, to highlight some of the study’s key insights. Last week, we explored the changing attitudes towards customer engagement. This week, I’d like to explore another finding from the survey—how marketers will play a larger role in company strategy. This is a huge development, and a dramatic shift in many organizations from how marketing was asked to contribute in the past.
Marketers Will Earn a Position on the Starting Line
In our survey, when asked if marketing would shape company strategies over the next three to five years, roughly 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it would.
As we heard in our previous conversation with visionary Seth Godin, marketers have historically been like runners in the final leg of the relay race. We take a product or service and determine how to help it reach the intended audience. But this approach is going to change. In fact, the race will be redesigned entirely, and it will no longer be a relay. Instead of being handed the baton, marketers will be in the race from the beginning, playing a greater role, and having more influence in setting strategy to determine which product, service, or market a company should even pursue.
Why is this happening? Because, the shopping and buying process has changed forever. Buyers have more information at their fingertips than ever before and they are using it to self-educate. They’re reaching out to companies later and later in their decision-making cycles. As a result, if a company hopes to engage and influence that shopper, they have to do it earlier. This new digital, social, mobile world, is the domain of the marketer. That means that marketing is the only function that has a chance to influence buyers before they have all but made their decisions—putting the marketer in the driver’s seat, or at the starting line—either way, it’s Marketing First.
Marketers everywhere should be excited about this. Across the board, marketing has the chance to play a bigger role in company strategy than ever before. Validating this fact, in our survey, “Strategy and Planning” was nearly tied for the top spot in terms of skills that marketers felt like they needed to develop in their organizations .
When you look more closely at the data, you can see this change emerging even further; marketing teams are doing far more, and they expect to expand their reach in the future. Here’s more from our survey:
- 75% of marketers believe they will be responsible for the end-to-end engagement and ownership over the customer’s lifetime—not just marketing, but support and continued engagement as well.
- More than 80% of marketers agree with the statement, “We need to change the structure and design of our marketing organization to meet the needs of our business over the next three to five years.”
When asked which areas of business areas marketing teams will drive in the next three to five years, the answers were also intriguing: The focus on advertising and branding will decrease compared to today. More than 70% of respondents indicated that marketers are currently focused in these areas. When asked if their focus would remain the same in the future, only about 40% believed they would even have a person focused there. Instead, marketers will put more energy, time, and effort into areas such as strategy, digital, and customer lifecycle engagement..
From Participating to Leading
In many ways, this is already happening. Marketers have been leading strategy for years in many organizations. And, it has been accelerating in recent years as marketers have become increasingly responsible for customer relationships, and, perhaps even more importantly, increasingly responsible for being the source of customer engagement data. The marketer knows the customer better than anyone else in this digital world. They are the keepers of customer data, which means they can spot trends before anyone else can—trends in customer behavior, needs, and interests. These are core components of a successful business strategy.
- Marketers Know Their Customers: Marketers share a deep intimacy with their customers that is simply unmatched by any other business function in a company. We understand what channels customers’ use, where they come from, and how their unique backgrounds contribute to their unique behaviors. This ability to resonate with customers is absolutely critical to business growth.
- Marketers Know How to Leverage Technology: It’s a digital-first world, and marketers have a stronger command of the most forward-thinking technology. We know and use the tools needed to better understand our audiences and reach them more effectively.
- Marketers Drive Revenue: With better technology and tools, marketers can effectively demonstrate our ability to drive revenue for our companies. With the data to prove our initiatives are driving revenue, we’ve earned a seat in the boardroom.
If you are the steward of the customer and you are driving revenue, you probably should have a strong hand in leading company strategy—don’t you think?
I, for one, am excited to see how this Marketing First world develops. How is this movement toward the next generation of marketing happening in your organizations? Do you have any insight or personal experiences to add? If so, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear what you think.