Markets have fundamentally changed.
A new generation of businesses (new technologies, new business models, new leadership) is emerging to address a new generation of customers (new audiences, new geographies, new aspirations). Marketing exists to connect businesses and customers, in relevant and profitable ways.
A new approach to marketing is therefore required. Some of the new approaches, and maybe the language, will be familiar. But not all, and not joined up as a fundamental approach to driving business performance. Together, some call it Marketing 4.0 or Exponential Marketing, but whichever labels you apply, it involves a seismic shift in philosophy and practice.
It fundamentally challenges every marketer who still turns first to their strategic plan. And then to their advertising agency, or even their web developer. It is fundamentally digital in mindset, but human as well as technological. It demands analytical thinking, content and networks, but also vision and creativity. It requires new types of leaders, and a new mindset for every marketer. It is built around 7 transformations.
These are the new rules of marketing:
- Growth Hacking … Forget strategic planning that is slow, structured and stable – instead think of strategy like a portfolio of fast and relentless experiments, seizing and shaping the best opportunities for growth. It still needs direction and choices – a vision still matters, making sense of change, having a clarity purpose, and a defined context in which to hack. Strategy becomes agile and creative, outside in, big ideas and small experiments, driven by changing markets and customer aspirations, rather than fixed by your own capabilities and products.
- Customer Analytics … Forget mass-market segmentation, whether geographic, demographic or anything else. People are individual, and don’t want standardised solutions. The power of big data, connecting and interpreting, automating and exploiting – together with more qualitative and creative insights through customer immersion and “design thinking” – is used to focus, engage, customise, deliver, support, enable the right customers over time. Linking to the hack culture, is the ability to keep learning, about people, about yourself, and what works.
- Platform Innovation … Forget innovation around a product, or even a service. Think strategically about how you can shape the market, in particular the platform that engages buyers and sellers, suppliers and distributors. Business model innovation, channel innovation, price innovation, then follow. Innovation is about shaping the market and all its dynamics to your advantage, whilst also personalised for each individual through micro-innovation – collaborative and customised solutions and experiences.
- Brand Storytelling … Forget brands built around who you are – brand logos, slogans and ownership. People engage with brands about them, brands that reflect their aspirations, and brands that connect them with other people who share their values and aspirations. Brand stories are living fables, encouraged by the company, but interpreted and spread by people to people. Content must be realtime and relevant, and keep moving forwards. Encouraged but not controlled. Inspiring, human and memorable.
- Social Influencers … Forget advertising, whether a TV campaign with 30 second slots, or even personalised mailings – people are not listening, and they don’t trust you. Instead they trust people like them, friends and peers. Word of mouth in a digital world, PR and celebrity endorsement is replaced by Instagramers or Youtubers who they trust. Brand stories, advocates, and community building help to guide and shape this influence.
- Enabling Experiences … Forget customer experiences as a semi-automated series of incentivised touchpoints built around the “sale”, think instead from a customer’s perspective. Think about the experience they have – the outcomes, not the inputs, what they do not what you do. Which is usually more about how they use, apply and exploit the products and services which they buy, rather than the purchase itself. Use their language, think about their experience, and how they use, store, apply and even dispose of products and services. Enable them to achieve more.
- Exponential Growth … Forget an obsession with sales volumes, even revenues, which are the short-term measure of sales people. Marketers should be focused on growing the business – profitably and sustainably – creating a better business future, and a long-term platform and guide for customers. Think profitably. Think growth. Think economic value creation. Exponential growth is now the expectation of investor, achieved by harnessing the power of branded networks, social influence and agile business models. Fast, exciting and rewarding.
These new rules of marketing, and specifically the 7 transformations, are the cornerstones of my next book and also of a new range of inspiring keynotes and practical workshops. We explore each mantra in detail, with detailed case studies together with the tools and partners for action.
Whilst of course, every market and every business is different, the 7 mantras are a provocative challenge for change. Of course, solutions are not black and white. Every business still has a mix of structured and hacked strategy, uses a box of earned and paid media, and has a balance of push and pull. But it is a rapidly changing area, a revolution.
Marketing is the driving force of business – it moves the business forwards, shapes the future, engages the customer and aligns the organisation to deliver. It is the growth engine, the innovation catalyst and customer champion. Markets are changing at incredible speed, requiring new agility and new capability.
There has never been a more exciting time for marketing, or to be a marketer.