Over the past few years, marketing has been dominated by technology, with companies using highly granular, data-driven segmentation to target prospects and customers. While technology will continue to play a vital role in marketing, there will be a greater emphasis on creating powerful and emotive experiences for buyers going forward.
Speaking at The Drum’s Future of Marketing event, Tom Stein, Chairman, Stein IAS, said that marketing was entering a new and exciting phase in its development. Terming this style of marketing post-modern, Stein said that marketing in the future would be an intoxicating fusion of science and art.
“If you look at history, it can be divided up into three phases – pre-modern, modern and post-modern. The same periods can be applied to the history of marketing,” said Stein. “Pre-modern marketing was the era of ‘Mad Men’ when ideas were not tethered to science. The whole focus was on creating intuitive and emotional experiences. Modern marketing – which has dominated the last few decades – has put a very strong emphasis on science and technology. You could say that it has been very left brain. We are now entering the post-modern period. Technology won’t be sidelined in the future; instead there will be an effort to reclaim the emotional side of marketing while keeping the best of preceding years.”
“I like to think of it this way – it’s taking the data precision of Spock from ‘Star Trek’ and melding it with the spontaneity and passion of Kirk. It’s a Vulcan mind meld if you will.”
In the future, marketers would endeavour to create powerful, emotional experiences drawing on the best aspects of the ‘Man Men’ era and call on mad scientists to ensure that those messages reached the right people at the right time, Stein said.
"Whether you’re left brain or right, marketing today needs both lobes,” he added.
Picking up the theme of post-modern marketing, Dan Sheridan, Group Account Director at Stein IAS, said that marketers were already using innovative technology to create powerful experiences for buyers, and that this trend was likely to continue. “Businesses are already using 360 degree video to attract customers and augmented reality has been around for some time. Mixed reality is also becoming increasing popular and companies like Facebook, Apple and Google are playing an important role in pioneering it. On top of this, there’s immersive reality, which we use with many of our clients,” he said.
Sheridan said that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, in particular, would have a major impact on post-modern marketing. “Take the Otto Group, a German-based mail order company and currently one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies. It has been using machine learning to re-order stock with 95% accuracy based on sales in the preceding month. Machine learning has also had a major impact in other sectors and markets – Southampton Football Club, for example, is using it as the basis of its scouting system.”
According to Sheridan, marketers will need to develop a cohesive strategy for using machine learning and will have to put in place an intelligent technology stack. “In a nutshell, an intelligent technology stack is a system that can adapt to its environment, drive marketing initiatives, learn from those strategies and replicate successes,” he said.
“It can develop content and set up sales calls when the time is right,” he added.
Sheridan, however, was eager to emphasise that companies should not get too obsessed with technology. “Ultimately, the best will always rise to the top,” he said. Instead, companies should focus their energies on developing learning models appropriate for their businesses.
Lastly, organisations should put more thought into the skills that they need in-house and around them so that they can navigate the post-modern world of marketing.
“All of us will have to become much more analytical, much more creative, much more emotional, much more understanding and much more adaptable. Those will be the skills of the post-modern marketer. Teams across the business will have to integrate more closely and businesses will need to have more agency partners, who – whether we like it or not – will have to work much more closely together. At the heart of this will be your machine learning system, fully connected to all of these different touch points, with huge amounts of data being inputted and hundreds of thousands of different data variables being handled and analysed on a continual basis. If we aren’t all connected this isn’t going to work,” said Sheridan.