Chris Burggraeve – Why, Who, What, and How of Marketing by 2020

Chris Burggraeve, Founder, Vicomte LLC

If we can agree that “Advertising” is a key part of “Marketing”, let’s consider the WHY, WHO, WHAT and HOW of Marketing by 2020 as a broader framework to hypothesize what may happen to “Advertising” in 2020, and importantly, how we can best prepare for this Future.

WHY – The essence will not change, yet learning to better “market in context” a key new skill.

Color_ChrisBurggraevePeter Drucker famously remarked: the objective of marketing is to make selling unnecessary.  It is about creating people’s willingness to pay, and to ideally pay “more for more over time” while the business grows too.  Yet Context matters more than ever.  As marketers we need to consider the ever evolving societal context in which we operate.  Consumers, stakeholders and shareholders are all empowered more than ever with influence (social media, governance, regulation).  They all expect more in return for trusting us with their attention, affection, and cash.  So the key question for marketers:  how do we connect and interact better with all stakeholders.

WHO – The essence will not change, yet a “better balanced 3/3 profile” is required.

If Marketing is indeed about Art, Science and Discipline, then great Marketers are a mix of Mad Men, Math Men and Method Man.  And Women of course, probably more than ever, given the profile evolution needs.  With continued advances in technology and biology, science is winning.  Big data, neuro-marketing, and other science–based discipline will shift the mix of Mad/Math/Method from 80/10/10 in the middle of the 20th century to something more like 20/40/40.

To lead Brands and marketing teams in the next decades, you want leaders who blend rebel thinking and gut instinct with science and discipline.  1/3 is not enough anymore. and even 2/3 is not enough.  A well balanced 3/3 is the Future WHO.  And we may have a big generation gap to close here.  Many people in charge of marketing and businesses today are raised 1/3 or max 2/3.  A balanced 3/3 is hard work to catch up with for all of us.  It requires real learning agility.  This presents a phenomenal opportunity for universities, and for the broader training, development and recruitment eco-system, to help teach and train this new triple competency…should they recognize and embrace this challenge.

One major watch-out though:  we always need to protect the gut as science progresses.  0/50/50 would be a really bad 3/3 outcome.  George Orwell would win – 36 years later.  We need to keep evangelizing and celebrating the need for “special magic” that makes ordinary ideas and campaigns potentially extra-ordinary.  Nothing works better than magic.

WHAT – The essence will not change, yet keep evangelising outcome-centric measurement.

Marketing essentially remains about finding the insights that drive Brand Health, as measured by behavior and attitude changes.  Attitude is about how much you know and love me.  Behavior is about how much you actually consume or use me.  It is all about strengthening or changing existing behavior and attitudes.  Or in the case of new category building, it is about the creation of new habits and perceptions.

We need to keep building and measuring both components of Brand Health.  How we measure will likely get more sophisticated and more convenient as technology evolves, as we get into the hereto hidden parts of the brain that make the purchase decisions, and as cost of measurement declines.   Whatever investment we do in the marketing mix, in the HOW (point 4), it somehow needs to be tied back to the OUTCOME of the decision(s).

From a measurement perspective, inputs are typically easier to measure than outputs, which are influenced by many factors.  So it is only human for most to succumb to creating a dashboard on inputs.  And while it is good to have that visibility and tracking ability, this should never replace the most essential dashboard: the one that regularly measures outcomes in terms of behavior or attitude.  Marketers need to remain first and foremost outcome-centric, and link that to the WHY (pricing – as per point 1). Marketing/advertising is primarily about business, not (just) about entertainment.  Hollywood is about entertainment, as a business.

HOW – The essence will not change, yet in the mix we need to keep experimenting and pushing.

Most marketing processes are typically covering 3 points of view:  some form of longer view on the things that should change less often by design (segmentation, positioning, portfolio decisions,….), a more operational view where most yearly investments are made (connection plans, typically on a rolling X months/year basis) and lastly a renovation/innovation view of sorts to develop future sales (pipeline management).    It is in the subsegments of these 3 areas that most revolution will happen again.  This is where most ink will flow, where hype will ensue, and new seminars will be created.

For example: neuro-marketing brings completely new ways to generate insights, to help test positioning, to help pre-qualify advertising, to help evaluate new packaging, and much more.  Yet it will have to be performed in a potentially activist, protective, demanding societal context (privacy, fear of the unknown, etc.).

Other examples: over the last years social media allowed Marketers to “connect and interact much more direct” in cost-effective ways with consumers and stakeholders.  Social CRM is next.  Big Data and Business Analytics get the latest buzz and rap.  So we need to stay open minded, stay agile, keep an attitude of experimentation and learning about the value of each new discovery as it comes.  But we also need to re-read point nr 3 each time the latest “new new thing” hits the mass marketing shelves.

In summary, Marketing’s fundamentals remain unchanged.  Yet to be a great “advertiser” in 2020 we need to evolve again our skills and competencies in each element of the Why, Who, What, and How of Marketing.