The only constant about marketing is its continuous changing. Five years ago we studied hard to master new marketing capabilities forgetting what we’ve learned within the previous ten years. Three years ago we learned again rethinking the whole marketing model and distribution channels considering new technologies. This year we will have to accept the new reality which is knocking on our door and again take the books in our hands and start absorbing new knowledge. From the side, it looks like a never-ending chase impossible to win.
Marketing experts share their predictions the marketing will dramatically change in a couple of years and the process has already been launched, but there’s no place for fear at all. Through the profession might dissolve, the people will stay. They will still have the experience, fundamental knowledge, and skills, but they will adapt and take on another name.
What values should marketers take into the new world of 2020 or even further? What new skills should they master to stay in the game or even lead it? Continue reading to fine tune your professional compass and find the professional identity in the imminent future.
The evolution of marketing. From walk to gallop – from carpet bombing to laser ray
But first, we’ll look back at what the marketing used to be in the past. Not only five years ago, but decades. This will illustrate the lessons learned by the industry and the growing pace of marketing evolution.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was Production. Simple and straight marketing idea, as Kotler formulated in “A Framework for Marketing Management”: “Products should be inexpensive and available everywhere.”
This was and still is a fundamental approach in marketing just because it works. Companies are concerned about mass production and efficiency producing as much as possible at as low a cost as possible. Marketing efforts of the Production era were based on securing the widest possible distribution.
The Production era later evolved into the Product era, when marketers started appealing to the attributes of the product itself to attract consumers. Companies built marketing efforts around quality, performance and innovative product features.
Closer to 1980s the competition grew significantly alongside with the engagement channels. Companies revealed the ability to reach the larger audience by several channels, which was fantastic. But this medal had the opposite side – they could not predict the reaction. In these circumstances, the marketers were chasing each and everyone who could buy in all possible points of contact to engage maximum prospects and level the possible negative reaction. That’s how the Selling era began.
Kotler said about the business of those days that they were “selling what they make, rather than making what the market wants to buy. The advertising industry took off exponentially although the effectiveness was poor.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies estimated that during the 1970s, an average American consumer was exposed to 1,600 ads per day, although fewer than 80 ads were consciously noticed, and only 12 provoked some type of reaction.
The waste of advertising budgets brought the idea of targeting specific groups of people who were more likely to buy. Segmentation era came to the scene with full strength almost the same decade.
And that’s where our history begins. Being able to target different types of customers, marketers finally saw their true values, heard their voices and felt their needs. Segmentation era naturally evolved into the Customer era, where the buyers took the control over the business. The rapid growth of the IT industry gave the consumer the freedom of choice and the access to the key information for self-education to make that choice. And it appeared to be such a strong weapon that major production businesses had to adapt or change the entire way of living to survive.
The Loyalty of the customer became the main value of the business as the natural consequence of the Customer era. Converted an individual once, the marketers didn’t have to go the whole way of conversion from the start again to make the second sale because the customer was aware of the product or brand. Only if the experience was positive, the repeated purchase wouldn’t take the buyer to the second round of all P’s and C’s over again.
And here we are now! Some of us saw the first home PCs, the first mobiles with color displays, the first sensor displays, we saw nano scaling of the devices, saw the drones and production automatization. And it’s already in the past. Not so distant, but it’s already happened with us.
The marketers are now surrounded by the thousands of the multilingual and multicultural customers transmitting their needs and demands via multiple channels. Marketers are trying to manage a hundred of tools on numerous devices, analyzing data by comparing several liquid (rapidly changing) segments and doing the best (what’s left) to give the business the solution to increase the revenue. The marketers are overwhelmed with the opportunities and capabilities of the modern world. Not because they are unprofessional, but because they are human. We are at the peak of the evolution loop and very soon the way we do marketing will change forever. The rescue is close.
Marketing-changing trends. It started in the past, it will end in the future, but it’s happening now
Today, marketing is not a bunch of channels and tools, it’s an environment. To be aware of what the new era will bring us, let’s look through the key trends going on right now.
Day by day our devices become more complicated. And the family of devices for a single individual grows. According to the Intel and IDC report “A Guide to the Internet of Things”, by the end of 2020 one person will have up to 26 devices serving his needs. In the office, at home, in the car, even in the air or inside of a human body those devices will gather, transmit, analyze the data to the owner and the services around.
The global marketing will be challenging this opportunity to acquire new points of influence. But with so many opportunities there comes a challenge. The communication with the consumer will not be limited by one or two channels, the services will not be limited to only one work frame and environment as they used to.
In the future, as soon as the customer sees the advertising and clicks on it, the brand will have to take on a double effort to immediately establish as many connections with consumer as possible – mobile phone number, mobile browser, mobile app, desktop browser, physical address, email, outdoors advertising, or even try putting a storefront right in the bedroom. All customer-brand communications will be held as neverending dialog once started by clicking the add, then moved to chat, continued as a phone call, then physical demonstration and so on.
Over 75% of online adults (18-54) start an activity on one device and then continue or finish it on another.
Source: Think with Google
Moreover, the technical capabilities will open new horizons not only for communication but for services themselves. For example, instead of going to the store the consumer will be able to see and almost touch the product using VR technologies. The delivery will not be locked on a specific geographical location. As the company will be able to track it live, and if needed, deliver to the customer, not the address.
On the top of that, if the buyer decides to return the purchase they’ll be able to get a refund in any way that works for them at the moment of making a decision. To the bank account, to mobile, in cash, transmit money to another vendor to buy other products or pay for services; or to leave it as a deposit.
All the devices integrated into our lives will create a new ecosystem of data interchange with minimum effort to manage from us. The companies these days are working hard to find the universal solution to bridge all the information gathered about a person in one single profile. That’s the biggest challenge for cross-device and omnichannel marketing today.
Nano segmentation. One person=one segment.
In the customer-centric world, the desire of any business is to satisfy each and everyone. That’s why the segmentation is far from over. Brands are willing to know what are the most effective channels for communication, what triggers work best, in what circumstances and what time for every possible consumer. Marketers create new segments, personas, groups and etc. They then track their behavior in every channel possible, create patterns and go deeper with segmentation.
The big gap here is the reactive management model. Relying on experience or statistics business makes a hypothesis, checks it and makes amendments. Regardless of the huge amount of available statistics, methodologies and practical experience, the brands can’t predict a certain action will result as they expect. They have to invest in experiments day by day. That is why each brand will have to go this path of nano segmentation to each of their customers on their own which is not something every business can afford.
According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. Every second, a million minutes (17,000 hours) of video content will cross global IP networks by 2021.
By 2020, almost 50% of all television and video content will be watched by smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Thus, the mobile lookup will grow by 85% compared to 2010. Over the past five years, the number of users who watch video on smartphones has doubled and has approached 70%.
90% of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process and 64% of users said they were more likely to buy a product online after watching the video.
The stats can go on and on as this trend is obvious and extremely strong.
Personal consumption assistant
Siri, Alexa, AliGenie, Alice, Cortana, Google Assistant, etc. – all these technologies were created to simplify the communication between the human and the machine. But that’s a front end. On the back and these assistants are the part of the global digital ecosystem of devices, platforms, and marketplaces of products and services. They collect all possible data about the individuals and transmit it to the analytical data centers. This integration creates a two-sided communication when the ecosystem can address the humans relying on the information gathered about them.
Marketing definitely wins in this situation. Instead of big data there comes big live data that can be influenced by the personal assistants – the providers of knowledge, values, and habits of a single individual and the humans overall.
The fridge will order us milk and water, the elevator will scan our body and recommend the medicine if we have problems with health, the news will be chosen according to our schedule, mood, and interests automatically. The products and prices will be based on our financial status, work position, and geographical location. All that work will be done by the personal virtual assistants – your digital avatar or concierge. The machine will talk to a machine on our behalf.
As for marketing, this is fantastic! But do consumers actually want it? That is the question to answer.
Today people live in the world of uncertainty and constant lack of time. We see the advertisements on the screen but can’t be sure if this seller can be trusted. We chat to people on Facebook, but we can’t be 100% sure if they look or behave the same in the real life. On the top of that, we don’t have time to investigate this uncertainty and leave it be and get used to it.
More consumers see AI’s impact on society as positive than negative (45% and 7%, respectively). When it comes to their personal lives, more consumers think that AI will have a positive impact than a negative one (52% and 7%).
The virtual assistant will become our digital avatar filtering the information noise and anonymizing our real personality substituting it by the artificial one, that we’ll be able to customize or easily change.
In the end, virtual consumption assistants are expected to save our time, create a positive customer experience and increase the overall satisfaction from any communication act.
Have no fear AI is here
With overwhelming technologies, the human being falls behind the machine who is the natural part of them.
Marketing is entering a new era where artificial intelligence (AI) comes to aid marketers. AI will help automate communication campaigns, create a new, stronger connection between brands and consumers, and ultimately lead to the hyperpersonal experience that evokes strong emotions. The side effect of this will be that only the most talented and creative professional will survive and evolve, rejecting templates and patterns in their work.
Although the talking about artificial intelligence has started back in the middle of the last century, its rapid development has been going on for the past ten years. This is due to a significant reduction in the cost of access to data, tools for their collection, as well as their storage and processing devices.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason to be afraid of artificial intelligence, as this is just another tool that will allow marketers to use statistical observations and machine learning to detect gaps – black holes, where communication does not reach consumers and does not work for achieving the goals. This will result in the rise of a more sophisticated marketing direction – contextual marketing, which will take into account the situation around the consumer, his mood and make an appropriate recommendation to business, set up the goal and formulate the task to the machine which will analyze the data and will find the way to execute the task the most efficient way.
The machines are inferior to people in one key characteristic. Machines are not creative. And it will take them decades to even get close to the humans. But already today artificial intelligence has three levers to influence the quality of marketing function in companies.
The first is the automation of interaction with consumers when the computer can independently determine optimal periods of interaction with various micro- or nano segments of consumers and implement it at specified intervals.
The second is the improvement of the advisory system, i.e. construction of a complex system of interrelations between purchases and the formation of proposals for related purchases.
And the third is the forecasting of the outflow of customers and the implementation of corrective communications to amend the situation.
Future marketer = Creative developer
While AI will take over the control over the routine marketing, the creativity, and the goal-setting will be left to a human marketer. What are we going to do with so much free time? We’ll be learning fundamentals and create new worlds.
Today the world is changing so fast that the marketers have no chance to control almost anything, they can only react. With growing AI, virtual, nano and neurotechnologies, future marketers will release much free time. What will they do with it? They will be creating the new reality or secondary environment for the consumers – a synthetic mixture of the reality and virtuality. Why? To return the control over the customers. This world will be based on the consumers’ desires and it will be so perfect, that none of us will want to leave it and we will obey to the masters of this world. And this shift has already started.
Source: Global Marketing Insights
Marketer’s skills of tomorrow
To create these perfect sub-reality marketers will have to dive into even more knowledge of the human being itself and study phycology, culturology, neurology, etc.
The marketers will be able to see the source of the customers desire. They will see the true motivation behind the search query or purchase. They will target the emotion that customers want to live.
Using the AI and machine learning in routine work, marketers of tomorrow will be able to see the battlefield from above and make well thought out strategic decisions and translate it to the machines.
3. Creative content manager
Though the content even today can be generated and does not necessarily involves humans, yet the machines are and will be unable to appeal to emotions. They will need the human (the marketer) to guide them on different types and genres of the content and the appropriate time and place for its distribution.
Video watching trend will leave no chance for marketers to avoid learning how to create the videos themselves or to manage the production by creating a vision in the other people’s minds or by directing the machines.
5. Highly learnable
We keep re-learning so often due to the industry fast evolution, that constant knowledge was deprecated for the marketers. The future will make us learn new to achieve certain goals, then re-learn from scratch in a single year to achieve another.
6. One-man army
The marketers will learn to use multiple instruments and tools that move towards the goal without involving other specialists, like a designer, front-end developer, writer, etc. The marketers will simplify, automate and delegate the processes to other humans or to the machines.
7. Ultra reactive to trends
With help of AI, the marketers will detect trends much faster and they will have to make decisions and act faster without additional permission or agreement with executives. They will be oriented to the result regardless of the consequences. The winners are not judged.
Marketing takes on more and more from an engineering profession – using and managing technical tools requires specific knowledge and skills. Though automation and AI will do most of the work, the understanding of the processes and the way the final goal will join the automotive ecosystem will require the marketer to know much about it.
The fundamental value of the future marketer
Marketers of the future will have an advantage over the AI which will never let them vanish – humanity.
Marketers are humans and they understand humans better than any AI or machine. Desires, fears, motivations, and inspirations – being humans we share them with each other from the first day till the last day. The machine will never be able to reach that level of development. That’s why the machines will always be led by the marketers as they know the final consumers much better because they are a consumes themselves.
Quit competing with the machines on their field. Take you humanity as the main value to the new era of the AI-driven marketing to bit the machines in the professional survival. The best illustration of this fundamental value has been demonstrated in 1991 by James Cameron.
“I know why you cry. But it’s something I can never do”.