Ashley Friedlein: The time has come for a new model for marketing

Organisations need to adopt a new model to blend classic and digital marketing. This is why the Modern Marketing Model has been introduced.

The increase in new channels and technologies has dramatically changed the environment in which marketers operate. But the way in which marketing is taught, understood and operates has not really changed. This is not sustainable. We need a new unifying framework as a reference for what marketing has become.

Alongside this need for a new framework, there are new requirements for marketing competencies and capabilities around domains of expertise such as data and analytics, customer experience, content, multichannel and personalisation, which are neither properly understood nor being met. This is acknowledged in the marketing industry but not reflected in any definitive model.

As a result of these changes, and the rise of digital, the marketing function is going through an existential crisis: it is not clear on its own remit, it does not know what skills it needs nor how to organise itself and it struggles to resolve a dislocation, not only in how it interacts with other business functions, but within itself with ‘digital’ versus ‘traditional’ schisms.

In ‘The Trouble with CMOs’, recently published in the Harvard Business Review, we are reminded that CMOs have the highest turnover in the C-suite. They are in office for an average 4.1 years, compared with eight years for a CEO, according to an analysis by talent management consultancy Korn Ferry analysis.

READ MORE: Is CMO succession in crisis?

The relationship between the CEO and CMO is also troubled. A global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group in 2012 set out the scale of the problem, revealing that 80% of CEOs do not trust, or are unimpressed with, their CMOs.

Why do marketing leaders have such short average tenures in their jobs? Because of poor job design resulting from confusion around what marketing actually does.

There are serious repercussions if we cannot define and agree on a fresh start, a new paradigm. This is why the Modern Marketing Model (M3) was developed (see above).

Without a clear reference such as M3 to help clarify an organisation’s expectations of what the marketing function does, we will continue to see turmoil that is damaging value.

Prevent silos

If we cannot reconcile digital and classic marketing, we will see further organisational silos, duplicated work and a lack of clarity and focus around roles and responsibilities that leads to inefficiency, frustration and bickering. Opportunities are missed and the growth that marketing, and the business, wants to deliver will by stymied.

For academia and providers of marketing education, it is important that what they teach is relevant and current with what the marketing industry and employing organisations require from their teams. We must encourage educators to update their courses and curricula with reference to a model like M3.

The diagram above charts how popular marketing models have evolved over the past 60 years, culminating in the 10 elements of M3, which we then show broken down into four stages: strategy, analysis, planning and execution. Visit the M3 website for a more detailed explanation.

In creating M3, we have not sought to create a brand new intellectual and conceptual vision of marketing processes or terminology. We believe this is not required and risks being difficult to understand and disconnected from marketing professionals’ real world. Rather, we seek to clarify, structure, and make more consistent what are different dimensions and evolutions that we feel need to be brought together in a contemporary and holistic view (see chart below).

There are many elements where the tactical and executional opportunities may have changed, largely because of digital, but which do not need renaming for the sake of it. Conceptually they are still valid and based on robust and enduring data, research and best practice. These elements include marketing strategy, market orientation, customer insight, brand, segmentation, targeting, positioning and promotion. Even the change from ‘place’ to ‘distribution’ is slight.

Removing ‘price’ as a core element will no doubt excite debate. In our experience, price is rarely under the direct remit of the marketing function, except perhaps in FMCG businesses. Price is also still covered under other areas like ‘brand & value’ and ‘marketing strategy’.

READ MORE: The big debate – Are the ‘4Ps of marketing’ still relevant?

We have changed ‘product’ to ‘customer experience & content’, which may also be controversial. Our new description still covers classic product, or service, development and innovation but ‘customer experience’ is deliberately broader than just ‘product’ and covers services, as well as the customer journey and experience around the product itself. ‘Content’ recognises the importance of content marketing to support the customer journey.

‘Data & measurement’ is the only new element added. We believe data is a marketing asset in itself (for example, rich metadata) so needs to be considered part of the marketing mix. We now market to machines with data, as well as to people. Marketing also has more dedicated roles and capabilities around data, analytics, measurement and optimisation and these need to be a distinct domain of marketing competence.

In 2013, I authored the Modern Marketing Manifesto, an articulation of the beliefs that the marketing discipline should embrace digital and classic marketing. M3 creates a new framework for applying this thinking within organisations.

The Modern Marketing Model is a unifying force that fuses digital and classic marketing into one future-facing framework. This informs marketing’s remit, required competencies and organisational design.

M3 defines marketing in the digital age.

Ashley Friedlein is founder of Econsultancy and president of Centaur Marketing

Find out more about M3 at



There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Grant Johnson 5 Oct 2017

    We have it. It’s called direct marketing. I have been doing it since 1988. ROI rules.

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