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The explosion of channels we all use to gather, consume and share information is having a dramatic impact on the methods of modern marketers.

We largely don’t answer cold calls, respond to unwanted emails, click on banner ads or appreciate disruptive marketing techniques.

Evolving consumer habits and the pressures on marketers to help grow the business are re-defining marketing.

And like a parent who doesn’t notice the daily growth of their children, the changes will be dramatic as we look ahead to the future of marketing.

Today, The Mad Men Are Truly Mad

Today, agencies are absorbing the impact of programmatic buying, the increasing backlash against interruptive techniques from consumers, the decreasing number of ways to “game” search engine optimization and the decline of insertions with traditional media channels.

Their response is to get back to what they do best: creativity and design.

But they are also advising clients on which channels their audience is using, what kinds of content they consume and how (and even why) some content gets shared or ignored.

Agencies are tapping into their core and becoming storytelling masters. They are leading their clients to think in bold, new, and more human ways.

Will The Last One Here Turn Off The Lights?

Publishers are clearly feeling the pressure of consumers’ shifting information habits. Digital has literally rocked their worlds and caused even the most traditional of publishers to consider how they can sustain themselves as viable businesses.

A new breed of publishers is tapping into the needs of modern consumers by creating content in many formats – long and short, shareable, informative, and even entertaining.

These “social news” content leaders include both newer players like Buzzfeed andHuffington Post, and Vice as well as more traditional news outlets like the BBC andThe Guardian.

And these publishers are all seeking new ways to generate revenue from the modern marketer: one that understands digital, social, mobile consumers.

But the modern marketing leader must also possess the skills to analyze massive amounts of data from those channels and produce the right kind of content, for the right consumer, at the right time.

The Future Marketing Department

The Marketing Department of the future will look very different from today’s advertising, branding, demand generation, field marketing, product marketing, partner marketing, and communications teams.

Instead, you will see The 2020 Marketing Organization center on these pillars:

  • Data: emanating from all those digital and offline consumer touchpoints
  • Content: to attract, engage and retain current and future customers
  • Technology: to manage all that data and content flowing across channels

Kathleen Schaub of analyst firm IDC, who has been following these trends predictsthat “by 2020, marketing organizations will be radically reshaped.” And that “the digital customer experience bursts traditional boundaries.”

Fellow optimist and digital strategist, Tom Edwards from The Marketing Armbelieves that the explosion of channels, the emergence of new technologies like wearables and the connectedness happening with the Internet of Things will combine all that content with data and technology to truly deliver on the promise of a seamless consumer experience.

So maybe the whole concept of “channels” disappears completely?

And Professor Steven van Belleghem predicts that by 2020, marketing departments will need data, technology and content to deliver what he calls “extreme customer centricity, without selling.”

Once Upon A Time . . .

So it all comes back to storytelling. Brands will continue to partner with agencies and publishers. And they will work together to refine their narratives.

Brand stories that resonate with consumers will focus on creating emotional connections based on business’ higher purpose – why they do what they do, and how that impacts their customers, employees and society at large.

And the overwhelming amount of information swirling around our 2020 world will force us to go back to using pictures more than words.

Storytelling and corporate social responsibility will stop being labeled buzzwords and will become business imperatives as consumers connect with the brands who do it well and who do it consistently.

What about the CMO of the Future? Well, he or she will be focused on driving the kind of culture that delivers “extreme customer centricity.” The Future CMO will have a background in engineering, a former growth-hacker, a marketing technologist and a brand steward.

She’ll be a storytelling nerd. And she’ll have a seat at the executive table.

Are you ready for the future of Marketing?