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Integrated marketing is dead. Long live the chief customer officer

The Drum has assembled an enviable panel of magnificent minds from the industry and beyond to identify the latest trends and brilliant ideas shaping our space. Here’s what’s been exciting them lately…

When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007 he uttered the immortal words, “this changes everything”. While this made for good marketing speak (and it was a truly revolutionary product), Dare’s creative partner Brian Cooper wonders whether Jobs really knew how much it would change, and whether he knew it would change marketing itself.

For many years marketing remained constant: a company built a product or service, marketing came up with a way to sell it, their agencies pushed a message down a set of channels. For some time this set of channels was pretty limited, and the basic structure of marketing campaigns changed little. With social media there came a proliferation of channels. To succeed in this marketplace a new strategy was required, and hence the trend for integrated campaigns.

The smartphone changed all this for one simple reason. Everything and everyone became connected. The fundamental importance of this shift cannot be overstated. When everyone is connected – and, by 2020, there will be 4bn people online with 4bn smartphones – new startups are able to utilise this to offer a superior customer service.

Suddenly, the consumer can have what they like, when they like it, where they like it. No longer are we living in a supply led world, dominated by hierarchical companies giving us what they think we want. Today’s consumer lives in a demand led world, where they get to choose, and companies have to deliver.

Businesses like Uber, Simple Bank, and Soundcloud all operate on this principle. The digitally connected world, shaped by the smartphone, has massively helped these new businesses disrupt the hierarchical, supply-led production model and integrated approach to marketing.

This creates a huge headache for established businesses. It is no longer commercially viable to take your message to market in the most imaginative and integrated fashion in the hope that the customer is persuaded to buy your product or service. Few will. Not when someone is offering a better one that actively puts the customer in control. Today the customer is in charge, and they’re exceptionally unreasonable.

And so we introduce the chief customer officer. This person is not only equipped with the necessary marketing know-how, they are also a master of the digitally connected customer experience. It is no surprise that those in charge of marketing are now spending more on IT than the chief information officer. Effective marketing in a digitally connected world requires the creation of a seamless customer journey from advertising and PR through to the point of transaction and beyond, into usage, service, feedback and advocacy.

It used to be that integration was the glue that held marketing together, but now that bond is the customer experience. By creating a digitally connected ecosystem, brands not only ensure customer satisfaction, they can also gain a wealth of data that helps refine their future offering. Failure to do all this can only mean one thing: decline and ultimately oblivion. Today the promise has to match the reality of what you are offering, and that offering has to be better than what any Uber-like digital start-up can offer. The customer is king.