Back in May we saw the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) skillfully rebrand as the Data & Marketing Association to better reflect changes to the industry. You see, we are now in a world where data is used way beyond the marketing department. And any trade association worth its salt will want to reflect the members it serves in its positioning.
Then last month we saw Uber, McDonald’s and Johnson & Johnson all axe their chief marketing officer roles. Observers point to the marketing work that goes on beyond the marketing department which made a classic CMO role just too big – just today’s tech and ensuring the seamless coordination of customer touchpoints could keep a CMO busy.
So maybe we are seeing the emergence of the marketing organisation – the utopia we have dreamed of without seeing many examples in practice?
As an industry we often obsess with the “new”and over-estimate its importance. The excellent Mark Ritson often espouses on this point. Take a look at TV viewing (big) vs streaming (small) or live radio (big) vs podcasts (small) and you will get the gist.
It reminds me of a meeting I had in around 2013 with a young media executive dressed in cowboy shirt, bum-fluff beard and Mr Noisy’s brogues. He explained slowly to this greying, balding, tired old man that, using a magic thing called programmatic advertising, he could find lookalikes and serve them ads on this thing called the Internet. Just like a 1991 NDL profile but vast data-sets instead of survey data I thought, smiling indulgently as he cycled back to Shoreditch.
But here’s the thing. We were just as wrong back then when we thought that all marketing would be direct marketing one day. It kind of is now but it’s not Nineties vintage DM. This is good because we all need only so many free pens in the mail. What’s happened is that our erroneous future vision has helped to shape the whole. And marketing is better for it.
So our world is changing fast which is exciting and will present many opportunities for people with marketing skills. There will be more ways to access marketing budgets, with tech being the obvious example. And I’m sure that many consultancies with moderate access to CMOs yet excellent CIO/CTO relationships will be rubbing their hands together at that thought.
Ultimately, perhaps little changes and it’s the marketers that innovate the best in the overlap between customer understanding and generating commercial value who will win?
There will be many new ways of gaining this insight and generating value and therefore skills to learn to do so. But for good marketers, that’s business as usual and their future is bright, whatever we call marketing then or wherever they sit on the org chart.
Jonathan Harman is founder of Bloom Profit Growth