THE BLOG

Marketing Must Evolve or Die

02/23/2015 02:48 pm ET | Updated Apr 23, 2015

With the advent of digital marketing, content marketing, social media, and big data, every notion of what works to catch a consumer's attention and motivate a purchase has been turned on its head. Added to the mixture is the up-and-coming Millennial Generation. As the older Baby Boomers head off into retirement, and the middle-aged Gen Xers settle into their now-comfortable lives, the Millennials are poised to become the next dominant market movers. They bring a brash feeling of online confidence, social media savvy, and suspicion of established conventions to everything they do.

While some marketers struggle gallantly to preserve the old ways, others rush excitedly into the fray. Some encounter a great deal of success while others experience epic fails. Today's marketers are held to strict standards of analytics and accountability. They must meet sales goals with a consumer who is increasingly fickle and Millennials who seem programmed to mistrust corporate dogma. Endless content opportunities are available, but the challenge is choosing which will be most effective. Finally, a guidebook for today's generation of marketers is available to lead the way. Evolve: Marketing (^as we know it) is Doomed, by Hessie Jones and Daniel Newman, is the Ogilvy manual for the 21st century.

Designed to create brand advocates, the book sets out to explain the new rules of the marketing game. Packed with personal knowledge, crystal clear examples and helpful case studies, the authors have also wisely chosen to start individual chapters with leading insights from today's top marketing minds. Olivier Blanchard, Gini Dietrich, Sam Fiorella, Shelly Kramer and more get the reader set for what's to come. Then Jones and Newman take over with their straightforward approach for achieving ROI rather than simply chasing meaningless metrics such as views, likes and retweets. They state their case rather simply: "The smart Marketers realize that the value of retaining amazing customers is far less costly than acquiring new ones."

The New Era of Consumer Collaboration

Jones and Newman reveal that one of the biggest changes to impact the future of marketing is the move to customer centricity. It is no longer effective to just communicate to prospects and customers. The new direction for marketing is to achieve community and collaborate with loyal customers who spread the brand promise. One chapter in the book proudly proclaims that, "Community takes time, but consistency and commitment unearth significant benefits."

Author Hessie Jones is no stranger to the new world of marketing. CEO of ArCompany, she is a seasoned digital strategist with extensive experience in technology, start-ups, banking, advertising and social media. She has personally witnessed the transition from creating markets for products to creating consumer collaboration. "Customer centricity is essential in today's economy because customer loyalty is fleeting," she proclaims. "Since the path to purchase is dictated by the customer, retention becomes a much harder challenge."

The book reminds readers that our "always-on" economy means there are no set hours for purchase. The evolution of one-to-one marketing must also be accomplished during a time of omnichannel communications. Marketers need to be prepared to provide a unified communication strategy across all customer touch points: retail locations, websites, and customer call centers. Customers determine their influences through the purchase journey. The mobile medium allows customers to go to review sites, do price comparisons and even take pictures of a potential purchase, and send it to a circle of people who will then influence their decision.

Despite marketing's globalization, the book also unveils a return to a sort of hyper-localization. Similar to the "mom and pop" stores of old where each customer was individually valued, modern-day dynamics attempt to determine the optimal time to send the relevant offer to the customer at a time they are most predisposed to respond. Jones and Newman believe that the very infrastructure of the organization needs to change to allow the view of the individual customer to surface.

Embrace the Change

Another issue addressed in this book is exploring how the Millennial Generation is forcing marketers to change. Author Newman, himself a Millennial, grew up with today's communication-enabling technology and believes that his generation is dictating this move towards customer centricity. Trust is also a significant component of purchase for Millennials. They are distrusting of government, and large establishments, however they can be brand loyal. Their media influences make them harder to find and even harder to motivate to action. Instead of being in control, marketers now have to deal with the fact that the buyer's journey is highly self-directed. Where the company used to direct the path to purchase, it must now yield its capabilities to react and flow to a path dictated by the consumer.

Chandar Pattabhiram of Marketo recently dubbed the coming period as the "era of engagement marketing," noting that we have moved from mass media marketing to transactional marketing , and are now going forward to forging "deeper relationships with prospects/customers throughout the buyer's journey." Jones attests that, "The operational/process upheaval that will be required to enable this​ is significant. Accountability will expand to own more of the customer experience side of the buyer's journey."

Big Data and Personal Privacy

Two chapters sum up the contradictory challenges faced by modern marketing: "Big Data: Making Things Easy for Marketers and Companies" and "The Dichotomy of Privacy and Increasing Data Transparency." These grapple with the issues of effectively using the inordinate amount of personal data that is available, while recognizing the consumer's need for privacy. Until now, research was managed in a controlled environment.​​ The assumption was that extrapolating results to a larger group under the same conditions would yield the same results within a narrowly defined margin of error.​

​Big Data yields different results, Jones says. "Big Data's unstructured nature makes it increasingly difficult to capture, let alone develop, any real standards.​ Its true value is that it analyzes events that have already happened. ​I ​ often write about the amount of guesswork that businesses do to create hypotheses about their ideal customer, their purchase triggers and propensities." All of this takes place against the constant backdrop of privacy - how much knowledge is too much, and when is it inappropriate? Marketing must also evolve to insure that the information it collects is essential to the promises it hopes to deliver.

EVOLVE shows businesses how to transform their thinking so they can sustain themselves. Marketing, as we know it, is indeed doomed. But perhaps this new age of marketing will yield even stronger results and more powerful consumer bonds - the old king may be dead, but long live the new marketing king.