Catalytic Thinking / Opinion

Firestarting marketing. Are you ready to create the future?


The future of marketing is going to look very different to how it looks now.

The question is – are you ready to design and create it?

The global economy is doing nothing to bolster marketing practice. Risky innovation is out, apparently, and budgets look like they’re going to be slashed (again).

The Chartered Institute of Marketing is suggesting that sales and marketing departments need to merge. I can already hear the screaming from commentators such as Mark Ritson.

Marketers all over the world are suffering from social media burnout – and customers now have such a plethora of possibilities that serious dilution is likely to take place in the very near future. The range of shiny new toys grows daily – but the savvy marketer needs to know how to get the best out of the existing estate before jumping on the next bandwagon.

None of this is new. In fact, I had a rant in August 2010 about the state of the marketing industry and the way that marketers don’t seem to be able to market themselves.

Sixteen months later and we’re no further forward. In fact, we may even be further back.

A year ago, I posted ‘Future Thoughts‘ – a post which didn’t go down all that well as it made readers work for their supper. I wasn’t being elitist, but I wanted to share a revelatory moment about a confluence of psychological models which blew my brain inside out (and I haven’t recovered since).

In August this year, I wrote about the Coke ‘Like Machine’ – a brilliant piece of consumer centric design which had the community doing all of the hard marketing work while marketers sat back and had a biscuit break.

The day after my birthday (I only mention it in case you want to send me a card in 2012), I blogged a new marketing model – Community Network Marketing – which I am convinced will be the best way forward for marketers (a hypothesis which is being reinforced by the current conditions).

Back in the mists of time (August 2010), I proposed a brand centric marketing model (BIIR) to push the 4/5 P model into the new world we find ourselves living in.

I’ve even proposed that marketers abandon the notion of ‘marketing’ and instead consider ‘teaching’ – a move which could have a profound impact on our profession, our audience and the communities we serve (because we’re here to serve).

So where’s all of this leading, and what does it mean for the future?

The following things are clear in my mind:

    1) Marketing needs to evolve. And soon. Otherwise we’ll be out of a job.

    2) Marketers need to use more psychological modelling than they do at present. Consumer behaviours are evolving and so are their purchase triggers. Marketers need to get on top of this. Call it social marketing, call it neuromarketing, call it being devious, I don’t care. We need to get the best possible return for our energies and our businesses.

    3) Marketing needs to be about behavioural change. Behavioural change comes first, sales come later. Marketers need to understand this and act on that understanding.

    4) Marketing needs to be about leadership. About leadership within organisations and about leadership in the community. The touch might be light with consumer advocates or it might be a death-like grip on strategy and tactical execution.

    5) Marketing needs to be about community. Inside the company, we call it internal communications. Outside the company, we call it our consumer base. Marketing needs to give and receive in order to survive.

    6) Marketing needs to break down silos. PR, branding, marketing, internal communications, graphic design, DM, XM, POS, social media, – all parts of the same whole. Marketing (as a current practice) needs to integrate, share, reinforce and lead.

Is that too much to ask? Are those six things too difficult to achieve? Can we pull ourselves back from the brink, connect with our corporate structures and our consumer community?

I believe from the core of my being that this is possible. I KNOW that it’s possible. And I want to set a fire and be at the forefront of creating the new marketing paradigm that will push into a brave new world.

Are you with me?

Now it’s over to you.

I am looking to team up with a range of people who want to be at the driving end of the new paradigm. If you’re inspired – not terrified – by the enormity of the task in front of us, I want to hear from you. If you’ve got any doubts, then this isn’t the project for you.

Drop me an email or get in contact with me through any means that you see fit and let’s talk.

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