by: Idris Mootee

Over the last two decades, marketers liked to believe that they have significant progress in making marketing results more scientific. Furthermore, they have tended to believe that with the advent of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies, that they are building relationships with customers.

This belief couldn't be farther from the truth and the reality may
be a little disappointing. The term "Relationships" has been used in
marketing lexicon since the 1980s. However, there is little consensus
on what that term is and what is means within marketing circles. There
is an over simplistic notion that if we treat our customers well they
will return, again and again, and that's what customer "relationships"
are all about. Well, marketers couldn't be more wrong about this. Many
of my CMO friends expressed their full agreement privately.

Moreover there is little common ground in marketing circles on how
marketing is defined and the process involved in deploying the
marketing function. What is marketing? Is it a common set of goals put
into action through a process of marketing analysis, strategic decision
making, formulation of tactical marketing mix programs and operational
feedback and controls? So what exactly is marketing?

The practice of marketing should not be confined to any one
discipline; it actually lies at the intersection of five disciplinary
areas: corporate strategy, economics, consumer behavior, design and
technology. In strategic terms, the practice of marketing, is focused
on the firm's strategic intent, its growth requirements and appetite.

In economic terms, the practice focused on the demand side of
strategy. In consumer behavioral terms, it is focused on the customer
side of strategy. Because of this focus on the demand side and the
concern with the customer environment, "marketing strategy" has a more
specific meaning than" business strategy" or even the broader concept
of "corporate strategy". Similarly, it has a somewhat different meaning
from "competitive strategy", which focuses mainly on the industry
structure and competitive dynamics. In design terms, marketing is
incorporating design as part of strategy and thus far in the industry,
there is little in terms of framework or tools available to facilitate
the interdisciplinary bridge building that successfully combines the
economic logic and customer behavioral logic. This is drastically
different from the logic of industrial economics, which the competitive
strategy literature of the past decade is built upon.

Some even ask whether marketing is dead? Moreover, there is a
general disillusionment with the inability of even of senior marketers
to deal with the business realities of the day. They are often accused
of not understanding the economics of the business or different
channels of distribution or of emerging disruptive technologies. Many
marketers are not equipped to take on new challenges that include
creating experience-based differentiation and branding in a
cross-medium network environment. There is no leadership in the
industry anymore; in ad agency, media and marketer worlds, few dare to
stick their necks out, stand up and be counted.

The consumer has far more control than ever before. Successful
marketers will have to learn to listen and participate in the
conversation that surrounds that control and put the bullhorn in
mothballs. Emerging technology will provide us with an infinite number
of new opportunities to be innovative and creative from an experiential
marketing perspective. We cannot even begin to comprehend the extent of
change in the industry, as Google and Microsoft completely alter the
advertising value chain.

John Hagel, an independent
consultant and author, while addressing a CMO Summit in New York pulled
together a number of themes from his speaking notes on where marketing
is going. Here's from his notes:

Redefine marketing strategy

These shifts have broad
implications in terms of marketing strategy, branding and marketing
performance metrics. To start with marketing strategy and again at the
risk of over-simplification, conventional marketing is built upon the
three "I's":

Intercept - target and expose customers to your message wherever you can find them.

Inhibit - make it as difficult as possible for the customer to compare your product or service with any other options.

Isolate - enter into a direct
relationship with the customer and, wherever possible, remove all third
parties from the relationship.

Actions to take: to navigate
through this fundamental shift in marketing, CMOs will need to
recognize that this is an organizational change challenge, something
that most CMOs are not very comfortable in confronting. They would much
rather design and deploy a clever marketing program than figure out how
to change the hearts and minds of people throughout the organization.

John's observation is excellent. I have often heard people throwing
statistics saying that the average tenure of a CMO is 16 months.
Whether it's 16 or 24 months - it isn't as important as what it shows
us - organizations are more impatient these days. The shortness of the
typical CMO's tenure is a tangible manifestation of corporate
management's frustration with the inability of marketing to provide
measures that correlate to the creation of economic value let alone the
inability to drive change through customer experience innovation.

The reason is that many of these CMOs are traditional marketers who
are usually great tacticians. Trained for years in traditional brand
management system, their primarily focus was in marketing
communications activities to build brands. Many lack the strategic
thinking to bring their case to executive management and even if they
do, their focus is entirely on market share and not market creation.
What is needed is a new type of CMO, one whose job is to be the one in
charge of customer experience innovation. This CMO can then engage all
functions of the organization, and not just marketing communications
and advertising agencies. The CMO's responsibility is to integrate
"customer experience" into every part of an organization's process. He
or she should ensure that an organization comes up with the right value
proposition and delivers the appropriate experience on the enterprise
level. And a big part of that is through digital interfaces and
technology-enabled human interactions.

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