Sure, there were always internal challenges: the R&D person who didn’t want to create the perfect formula for your grandiose product idea or the sales person who didn’t want to list your amazing brand despite your soon-to-air blockbuster TV ad. But the outside world was known and relatively stable.
Last Monday, as I reflected on my working day, it struck me that 100 per cent of my time had been spent with people and thinking about topics that wouldn’t have been on the radar of a typical marketer just two or three years ago. For example:
- Data: how will data, with its exponential proliferation, enable us to better market to people and not at people? On their terms, not ours?
- Start-ups: where will the next marketing idea come from? Which adtech, internet of things or big data entrepreneur is, as we speak, inventing the next Facebook or the new Twitter? And how do our marketers start experimenting for the future with them immediately?
- Artificial intelligence: how will AI irrevocably change not just the life of consumers but also marketers, freeing them from mundane tasks, to enable the creation of the new and the bold?
- Platforms: how have Google and Facebook become the most valuable brands in the world through platforms that enable millions to interact with their brands in small yet meaningful ways, multiple times a day? And what does that mean for brands such as Coca-Cola or Dove, as more and more brands become publishers, not advertisers?
- Last, but definitely not least, relationships: in a world of empowered consumers, how do we build meaningful personal relationships with the people we serve, so that they will build our brands (their brands) with us? When these brand champions – those that truly love the brand and nearly consider it theirs – become our greatest marketers on the ground, we have a unique privilege as marketers to engage with them and amplify them – as they do us – symbiotically.
And these were topics from just a single day, not to mention the new normal of digital, mobile and social spaces.
The reality is that in this ever-faster changing and always more complex world, the idea of a marketing generalist, who learns early and forever knows the rules of the game, has disappeared.
With the current access to knowledge and the speed of change, everyone is a potential marketer. And that means the marketer needs to be able to understand and work with everyone else. The data scientist. The brand publisher. The relationship manager. The artificial intelligence engineer. The start-up entrepreneur. Even the consumer.
Today’s world of marketing is full of new skills and paved with new abilities to enable us to create the best marketing ever for the people we serve. To let us always stay ahead of the ever-changing game. To make us always more curious and brave and to bring the outside in. To spot and act fast, to start and scale faster. To deploy or to die.
To many, I know this is scary. Personally, I find it incredibly energising, as this is the marketer’s final frontier. For now at least. Our next five-year mission is to explore these strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no marketer has gone before.
These are the voyages of the marketer’s new enterprise!