4 Need-to-Knows About The Future of Marketing
Technology is a wonder.
SpaceX lands rockets at sea, and the Pokémon GO craze encouraged video game players to step outside. Yet, we’re still waiting for the crystal ball technology that will tell us precisely what marketing will look like in the shortly distant future. No problem. You can still prime for success with these need-to-knows about the future of marketing.
#1: Everything old is new again.
From cold calls to billboards, some outbound techniques can seem as foreign as Mad Men’s pre-car seat world, where a 1950s Betty Draper climbed out of the front seat of a car with a newborn in her arms.
But maybe our marketing environment is a bit closer to the past than first glance suggests. Imagine the door-to-door salesman of the post-WWII era. That wide-smiling, suited man on the porch might seem quaint, even comical by today’s standards, but is that interaction really so far from the one-to-one conversations brands hold with consumers on social media?
Likewise, outdoor ads on billboards, barns, and other buildings were part of the American scenery for decades. Now, mobile and social media ads are part of the scenery for consumers who spend increasing amounts of time plugged into their devices.
Yes, marketing methods will continue to evolve. Yet, moving forward, successful marketers won’t be distracted by new terminology or refined understanding; rather they’ll take those changes and apply them to the basic marketing principles (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) that build the foundation for success.
#2: Data will increasingly drive decisions.
While the core of marketing hasn’t changed, data and its analysis have experienced seismic shifts. In the past, campaigns ran over the course of months, in some cases years. Numbers trickled and dripped toward decision makers, leaving them to wait to discover whether that billboard campaign was a resounding hit or a pricey miss. What’s worse, data in recent decades has often appeared in the form of cumbersome reports and spreadsheets that trigger headaches in even the most enthusiastic marketers.
Technology has turned that sometimes agonizing wait into real-time intelligence, enabling marketers to be agile, and empowering leaders to make better strategic decisions. Developers have also refined data presentation, compiling stats and delivering insights within easy-to-read dashboards that kill the spreadsheet and allow for quick assessment.
As tech continues to develop, processes like machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence in which computer programs learn from the information they collect, seem likely to offer predictive data that will streamline real-time decision making. Marketers able to harness that technology will have the best opportunity for creating meaningful connections between brands and their stakeholders.
#3: “Marketing” will no longer be a name on a door.
Traditionally, marketing was a separate process within a company. It was facilitated by a department or dedicated agency that worked–with varying degrees of success–alongside other processes, like sales or advertising.
The current business environment suggests a blending of functions. Consider how customer service, once the domain of private letters and phone calls, now plays out in the public forum, impacting brand perception and consumer decision making.
Marketing in the future will likely appear as an integrated part of a 360-degree system focused on sharing resources and meeting interdependent goals. That holistic integration will bring a better ability to convey the brand’s authentic story—one that creates relevant conversations that resonate with prospects, consumers, and clients.
#4: You don’t need a crystal ball to stay relevant.
What marketers need is to be agile and flexible. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is no longer acceptable justification for any marketing strategy or tactic (not that it ever really was anyway).
Technology has fostered significant changes thanks to innovations like smartphones, apps, and social media platforms—all in the span of a few years. (Consider that, in people years, Snapchat would be a toddler and Twitter would be a fifth grader.) With constant changes to technology and the emergence of platforms such as Snapchat, there are always opportunities to reach and engage with your audience.
Success in the future may hinge on the ability to capitalize and build on emerging technologies. And how do we do that? With a solid foundation in the four P’s, access to real-time intelligence, and a holistic view of marketing’s role in the larger strategy.
Marketers with those pieces in place won’t need a crystal ball because they can jump quickly and appropriately into the dynamic environments that create opportunities for connection and, over time, profit.