Marketing Pros Can’t Hide Behind Their Desks Anymore

or, What One Marketer Pondered at the IBM Unica MIS 2011 Conference

Slalom Marketing Solutions Architect Michele Grant

Michele Grant is a Marketing Solutions Architect with Slaloms Atlanta office. She is passionate about creating integrated, multi-channel marketing strategies that take advantage of the latest in marketing automation and resource management technologies.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Peter Drucker

We want what we want, when we want it, where we want it. This is the reality of today’s customer. The empowered customer.

But most of the time, we don’t get it, do we? We always have some critique of our customer experience, we always want something a little more, a little different.

As marketers we struggle to understand how to address these needs, even as we, in our customer guise, get it. We’re bound by fences on every side: limits in time, technology, resources, a focus on the tactical rather than the strategic, common misunderstandings over purpose and vision, and an inability to translate between what was, what is, and what is to come.

Sitting in the first general session at the IBM Unica MIS 2011 Conference, I was struck by how much the conference themes seemed to shine a light on these issues. Words like customer-centricity, smarter commerce, and social business bring into focus a need for a change in how we as marketers do what we do. The customer has the advantage over the marketer through access to greater amounts of data and more advanced technology. And it isn’t even just having the access, it’s that our customers change the way data and technology are used every day. When the traditional functions of marketing, demand generation and brand management, are in the hands of our customers (I know some of you read this as “have been usurped by our customers”), where do we go? What do we do, what do we become?

Obsolete. Totally not kidding, the examples are out there.

But surely, you, like me, cannot bear the thought of going softly into that dark night. And we aren’t alone. There are other forces at work, creating the tools and technologies we require to be equipped for this customer-centic future. It’s up to us, the marketers, to dream up new ways to use these tools, to push these technologies, to drive how data and technology serve our customers. It’s up to us to be visionary, to be proactive, to take chances and learn to ride the current that is the empowered customer. Don’t forget – we ARE the empowered customer.

Don’t be afraid to look up from your latest creative brief, to look beyond the next quarterly analytics report, to look further into the future than your 3 year strategic plan. Dream of a world where you pour content, offers, images into an engine that sorts and selects the most relevant content, most likely to convert offers to serve to each individual customer, based on their own previous and predicted behavior, in the most relevant and timely channels. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? That’s where we are going; this is the future that awaits us.

It’s a very large step from where marketing is today to where it will be, and the time to start that journey is now. Start by understanding where marketing technology is going. Marry yourself to the idea of customer-centricity—not customer focused, not customer led, but customer-centric, as in a belief that business must orient around the needs and desires of the customer in order to survive.  Learn about concepts like smarter commerce and social business. Start to structure your marketing team, your data, your business processes and operations in preparation for fundamentally changing how marketing operates. Look for the signs of change: the traditional funnel will break as the customer hops channels and brand is altered by customer perception and commentary. Look for IT and Marketing departments to get closer and channel silos to merge in response to changing customer demands.

The future is ours to create.

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About Michele Grant
Michele Grant is a Marketing Solutions Architect with Slalom Consulting in Atlanta. She's passionate about creating integrated, multi-channel marketing strategies that take advantage of the latest in marketing automation and resource management technologies.

One Response to Marketing Pros Can’t Hide Behind Their Desks Anymore

  1. jsenff says:

    Hi Michele.

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree at Boston University in HR Management and my first class is ecommerce. So far, it has been interesting to learn how companies are navigating the rapidly changing world of ecommerce and whether or not they are taking advantage of social networking platforms, blogs, etc. It’s nice to see that Slalom excels at this! Cheers, Jill

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