It is time to adopt a modern marketing mindset

May 16, 2018



I’ve been mulling over the flip flop from marketing to digital and back to marketing. That is as brief as I can summarise what has happened over the last ten years. To be more prescriptive I have been mulling over how marketing led businesses abandoned insight based strategies to pursue channel specific digital strategies as the world changed radically in 2007. That change was brought about by the arrival of the iPhone – just over ten years ago. In the last year and a half I’ve been encouraged to observe right thinking companies tackle the integration of traditional marketing and digital marketing to help codify what a modern marketing function is. I believe it is an important step for any aspiring marketing leader and here is why.




Marketing has had a rough time clearly defining what we do within the body corporate recently. Smart people became enthralled to shiny, stand alone digital concoctions. This has hurt many a marketing team’s standing within large businesses. It lead to a lack of trust and a willingness to tinker with structure from CEOs. Research in 2012 by the Fournaise Group points out that eight out of ten CEOs do not trust their CMOs, unless the are “ROI marketers”.


There never was a sliver bullet. Or  a single magical digital channel. That was always flawed thinking. But in a time of mass disruption one most try, fail, learn and repeat. Eventually though, order needs to be restored and priorities agreed. What added to this problem was the never ending supply of new priorities, channels, platforms and ideas. It became unmanageable.


Digital as a separate entity compounded marketing’s identity issue. This has led to chopping and changing within the function, as the CEOs office tries to get a handle on what the marketers should do. This is borne out by research. For example, a chief marketing officer (CMO) lasts around four years compared to an average of eight for other C-suite roles according to Korn Ferry analysis.


Right now marketing professionals have over 5,000 technology lead products to choose from when they seek to acquire, retain and engage customers. The yearly graph from ChiefMarTec collects them all into a horrifying graph, it is worth a look. That cat is out of the bag and is not going back. So, the landscape is more complex, but yet, I am seeing clarity of thought across the marketing professionals who get it. It is as it always was. Find the right insight. Build the proposition around that. Communicate, listen and respond.





The biggest change I see has been around the maturing of technology and how it is bundled and integrated. There were also some big winners in the platform wars – Facebook and Google. Lagging far behind are governments and regulators. The internet is a mess, I am not trying to suggest otherwise. But in terms of a marketers ability to make good decisions around customer acquisition, retention and engagement there now exists a through line, or at least a decent blue-print.


A lot of this thinking is lifted from the excellent report by econsultancy, and their M3 white paper.  They focus on the mega trends seen in marketing’s development since the 1960s. They chart McCarthy’s 4Ps, then Boom and Bitner’s 7Ps and Lauterborn’s 4Cs which bring us to recent times. The modern marketing model they call M3 is their best bet to address the next mega trend for marketing as a function. Namely unifying classic marketing techniques and digital into one discipline. The following table from that report shows the way forward to my mind.


m3 modern marketing model



So, I recommend you take a step back from the tactical if you are looking to move your brand commercial performance and your job prospects in the right direction. Base your decisions on how to build the right team and prioritise the right activity by using a table and strategy like the one above. It is taking the mystery out of emerging technology based ways to reach people and putting the heavy lifting back on strategy. You can then engage the experts to execute the tactics.


This is not to say you can do this without having new ideas and new skills in the building. Also, you cannot do this without continuous professional development. We are here to help with that of course. But, by taking stock of where the last ten years of disruption to the marketing function has brought us to I believe marketers can now plot a more impact-full future.