This post is from Rishad Tobaccowala's Reinventing Blog. Rishad is Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of VivaKi.
As we enter 2012, here is a perspective on the five key arenas that marketers will grapple with:
Marketing as Mobilization: In a world of Twitter, Facebook, Google + and other social platforms, marketing will increasingly resemble political campaigns with Brands mobilizing and incentivizing their advocates to market to their friends and communities. They will also staff up to quickly address and limit the impact of negative streams of publicity such as complaints before they hurt the brand. The emphasis will be on marketing in real time, providing clear value and recognizing that what people say about a brand is more important than what a brand says about itself. Engaging the "peoples network" will be as, if not more critical than leveraging television, retail and other media networks. To do this many companies will recognize that the key challenge is not to develop a Facebook presence but update the corporate communications, legal and marketing infrastructure of their organizations and those of their partners.
Marketing to a New Mindset: Today, all around the world, people are not just more empowered and informed but they also are far less trusting of business and political organizations, leaders of all sorts and flatulence filled, florid, fancy marketing. They are looking for authenticity, community, value, relevance and simplicity. There is a gaping divide between the rulers and the ruled, between marketers, and customers and between the senior leaders and the rank and file. It is going to be critical to get real and stop repeating old shibboleths or behaving in ways that make so many leaders caricatures of themselves. Get real. Get great. Or you may be forced to get out. Personal re-invention is critical.
Marketing's future will be increasingly determined outside the confines of the "marketing industry": In addition to empowered customers, the biggest challenges to the status quo will continue to come from outside the marketing industry. Remember the day that meetings of industry groups were quite incestuous and closed? Those days changed as digital media eroded the differences between video, print and audio. Today, magazines and newspapers and television are all multimedia organizations broadening their competitive and opportunity set. Not so long ago "outsiders" like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Facebook became the future of the industry. We expect this trend will continue with a vengeance with Adobe, IBM and many others from the tech industry bringing forth one front while names we have never heard of from both global markets and garages will continue to press us to stop thinking narrowly and becoming more open in both mindset and partnering. It is no surprise that the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas next week will be as important as Cannes to the advertising industry.
Significant Restructuring of Marketing Organizations of All Types: Todays marketing organizations at clients, agencies and suppliers are struggling to cope because they lack the right talent, organizational and service/product mix that they need to compete in an age of marketing as mobilization and to an highly empowered customer with a changing mindset. Marketing will have to be world class within organizations since it will be a critical part of the future of all companies. We will begin in 2012 to see significant restructuring and blowing up of existing marketing hierarchies and leaders. It will be messy, bloody and chaotic but the future does not fit in the mindsets or containers of the past and what will need to be done will be done.
Marketing basics will grow more important: In a fragmenting and fast moving world brands will matter more since brands are the ultimate search engines and navigation lighthouses. The great ones are trust marks. Storytelling will continue to be critical and there will be new ways to not just tell stories but have others participate in the stories. Joan Didion wrote "we tell ourselves stories in order to live" and in many ways brands that are alive and vital are stories. Finally the science of marketing particularly finding the right audience in the right mindset and right context to engage in story and brand building will be even more important and fortunately we will have amazing new technologies to make it happen.
The future of marketing is very bright since it is about identifying and meeting customer requirements and in an age of empowered consumers this skill will be increasingly critical. But, for both marketing and marketers to get to the next level we will have to work hard, learn a lot and change our approaches and mindsets in ways that will truly test our mettle.