Marketing is in a state of flux, its role within business is changing, and it has finally emerged from the support function shadows. More businesses have realised the value add it brings, but the much-changed landscape will continue to morph apace in the year ahead, writes Williams Lea Tag.
THE FLUIDITY OF DATA
Everyone talks about the importance of data, its collection and application. The marketing function owns the tools that provide the insights. It is this unique access to customer data and the subsequent insight it allows marketing departments to bring, that has given marketing its swagger back. Marketing is able to inform and determine the direction of business decisions through its ability to predict and understand customer behaviour at a granular level. Distilling information and filtering it through the business has empowered the marketing function, with its data routinely used for business forecasts justifying marketing’s seat at the executive table. Marketing’s ability to adapt campaigns in real-time based on performance data is a strength that we will see used more widely as businesses look to improve overall campaign effectiveness and real outcomes.
MORPHING OF ROLES
Technological disruption is increasing the amount of data available, and as this grows, the demand for people to make sense of it will heighten. Consequently, the requisite skillsets of marketers have changed. There is an increased need to look more widely at marketers with both analytical and technical skills, who not only understand the data, but also know what to do with it. Data Analysts have begun to appear on marketing teams as more emphasis is placed on specialist skills sets that meet the specific needs of the business. Talent from other industries such as publishing and journalism are becoming more commonplace in marketing departments, as businesses look to fully exploit content marketing. As the needs and expectations of the business evolve, so too will the marketing function but not to the point that roles will be obsolete - at least not any time soon.
To take a lend from Mark Twain the death of the role of Chief Marketing Officer that has been widely reported in 2017 has been greatly exaggerated. Diluted iterations of the role have been heralded as the beginning of a new marketing era. We have seen new names such as ‘Chief Growth Officer’ and ‘Chief Customer Officer’, gain popularity, when in reality they are one of the same. New roles such as ‘Truth Engineer’ and ‘Chief Listening Officer’ have also appeared – but really how new are these roles? Marketing has always been about answering the needs of customers and as these needs change, marketing will adapt and bring people on board to meet them.
In 2018 we will see more new job roles appear. This will be particularly prevalent as technological advancements see businesses struggle to pigeon-hole ownership of new technologies. Automation tools are a prime example of a technology without a home, with the IT function not fully understanding the relationship between sales and marketing and marketing itself, often lacking the technical expertise needed to fully utilise and embed the tool within the business.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS STRETCHING BUDGETS
Budgets will continue to tighten in 2018 and expectations on marketing’s deliverables will continue to grow. As marketing’s remit increases, brands will look to form strategic partnerships with agencies and other businesses to streamline processes and gain efficiencies. We may see brands consolidate their partnerships, but the fresh perspective, expertise and efficiencies agencies and partners provide will help brand marketers achieve more with less.
Strategic internal partnerships will also grow in importance. We will see greater alignment between marketing and procurement, with their distinct skill sets on either side uniting to drive cost-effectiveness strategies, improve speed to market of campaigns; brand consistency and increase transparency on spend. Any savings achieved through such strategies can be used to reinvest in technology to drive tracking and optimise performance; ensuring marketing dollars are stretched at every opportunity.
MEETING THE DEMANDS OF THE FUTURE
Customer demands constantly change as do business expectations. Marketing has become a powerful growth engine fuelling business decisions and its role within an organisation will continue to morph to the latest demands of its customers, stakeholders and employees. Marketers must embrace the flux and take advantage of riding the wave of change as they seek to provide greater customer insight to shape their businesses now and in the future.
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