We launched DirectionGroup over thirty-five years ago as a specialist marketing agency for IT and tech brands. Little did we know just how ubiquitous the industry we chose to work with would become in the industry we chose to work in.
Marketing has not just embraced technology; it has become dependent on it in the pursuit of the new Holy Grail of the marketing mix; what Marketo call ‘Engagement Marketing’. As people spend more time on tablets, mobiles and laptops, marketing has had to adopt technology and digital in a big way. It’s done this to achieve three critical outcomes: reach, individual relevance and speed to market, which is so critical to today’s 24/7 audience.
Marketing art vs science
Marketing automation, real-time marketing, behavioural economics … the gap between what marketers used to do and what they now need to do has never been greater. We are moving from an age of mass marketing to an age of engagement marketing where technology is critical to success. This is driving fundamental shifts in the marketing ecosystem. Marketing faces new demands and marketers require new skills as a result. It’s not enough to simply inspire and challenge and surprise with the art form of marketing – the white coats have arrived to test and measure, analyse and scrutinise. In the battle of art and science, the marketing scientists have the measure of their competition. This does not mean that creative output is unimportant – it is simply no longer the sole focus of demand. It is a given, a hygiene factor in briefs where the talk has moved on to customer journeys, lead nurturing and scoring.
Client side is changing
This is a massive evolution for marketing and marketers to the point of job metamorphosis. The view of marketing as a cost centre is diminishing in favour of its new-found fame as a key driver of revenue. But, as marketing goes deeper into the sales funnel, marketers require a new combination of skills. These range from strategic thinking and planning to providing data and technology at an operational level. A piece of global research* painted a vision of the marketing department of the future, which was divided into ‘Think’ (analytical marketers), ‘Feel’ (engagement marketers) and ‘Do’ (production /content marketers) silos to clarify the new mix of skills. It will remain a highly integrated department but will embrace super-fast and super-smart technology at its core to serve this new ‘Age of the Customer’ (Forrester) based on individual customer needs.
Agencies are evolving
It’s not just client-side marketers who need to adapt. Marketing agencies are also feeling the change and are rapidly moving away from the 1950s’ model for creativity. Although still delivering creative thinking and solutions, this model has had to progress to embrace technology. We still need art directors, copywriters and video producers, but these people are now mingling with data analysts, automation specialists, content planners and coders around the lunch table. It all reflects the client’s need for an integrated and converged media strategy to hang off the big idea. Technology in marketing has forced agencies to up their game across the board. In this era of marketing change, clients are looking to learn from agencies as much as employ them.
The tipping point
So, it’s here and it’s real and it cannot be ignored. Technology has become intrinsic to marketing and marketing is fast becoming one of the most technology-dependent departments within the business. We’ve reached a tipping point. Gartner predicts that CMOs will soon be spending more on technology than CIOs. Yet to fully reap the benefits, marketing must own and grasp its technology strategies and platforms, optimise its teams and break out of the status quo organisational behaviour.
The rise of technology in marketing presents an array of exciting opportunities. For us, it opens up the very real possibility that we could end up using marketing technology to market technology to marketing technologists. In that scenario, we’d have a very old-fashioned advantage. The advantage of knowing our audience and their behaviour before the automated, real-time, behavioural economics analysis of our big data had even kicked in.
*Global study by the Association of National Advertisers, World Federation of Advertisers and EffectiveBrands, a global marketing strategy consulting firm.
Trish Harriss, Joint Managing Director, DirectionGroup Ltd
Tel: 01189 772 677