Is this the dawn of marketing's Golden Age?

 |  By: Steve Johnson In: Agency management

McKinsey, the global management consulting firm (they have 100 offices) have just published an article saying that we might be about to enter The Next Golden Age of Marketing.


It’s a 3,000-word piece with a big-picture view for agencies and clients alike. Here’s a summary...

The explosion of channels, technologies, digital and mobile has propelled growth in marketing spend, now at $1 trillion globally. But the effectiveness of this spend is under deep scrutiny. Three out of four CEOs agreed with the statement ‘marketers are always asking for more money, but can rarely explain how much incremental business this money will generate.’ Only a third of chief marketing officers said they had quantitatively proved the impact of their marketing outlays.

Yet ‘CEOs are looking to their CMOs more than ever, because they need top-line growth and view marketing as a critical lever to help them achieve it.’

McKinsey identify five elements:

1. Science

'Advances in data, modelling, and automated analysis are creating ever more refined ways of targeting and measuring the returns on marketing investments, while generating powerful new clues about why consumers behave as they do.' This involves serious levels of analysis and buyer research, so much so that CEOs are thinking of creating a new position of marketing technology officer (MTO).

2. Substance

‘Digital innovation, transparency, and customer-centricity have raised expectations across the board. As more advanced marketing science and analytics take hold, they are making it increasingly natural for marketing to go beyond messaging and to shape the substance of the business, particularly the experiences of customers, the delivery of functional benefits, and the drive to develop new products and services.

'Armed with information about customers and a company’s relationships with them, the CMO is well-positioned to help differentiate its products, services, and experiences.’ Clearly this is a far more strategic role than marketing’s traditional position.

3. Story

‘Even as marketing reaches new heights with technology-enabled measurement, the importance of the story hasn’t diminished. But ways to tell it are morphing continually as the stuff of storytelling encompasses richer digital interactions, and mobile devices become more powerful communications tools. In this world, creativity is in greater demand than ever.'

‘Agency-management issues also are an important piece of the puzzle. Talent scarcity, evolving digital storytelling, and perceived institutional rigidities have opened new debates about the best ways to access creativity. Some marketing leaders are bringing in-house more of their story muscle, particularly when it involves lighter message content for social media. Agencies are responding. Many are acquiring more digital talent and working to break down silos to overcome perceptions that they are actually geared to bigger productions and may lack the digital and story skills to handle new content in an agile, integrated way.'

4. Speed

‘In a digital economy, marketing is no longer a batch process but a continuous one. Consumer preferences change with stunning velocity, as do the dynamics of markets and product life cycles. This culture of urgency means that marketers need a new agility, plus the management skills and organizational clout to bring other functions together at a higher clock speed.

‘A number of CMOs we know are setting the terms of how functional units should collaborate and spelling out what the entire organization needs to know to get new products to market at a stepped-up pace. In these cases, marketing becomes the glue across the organization, providing oversight and coordination.’

5. Simplicity

‘Complexity is the enemy of speed. Simplifying working relationships with advertising and other media agencies is another goal for many marketing organizations. Trade-offs abound: specialist agencies have expertise in new digital-content formats and delivery channels, but they aren’t always full-service shops. Larger agencies offer more services, but the strengths of many still lie in traditional media. Marketers building teams of employees with strong skills in digital content and delivery are bringing more activities in-house, but bulking up can create complexity and slow things down. And of course, simplicity can’t come at the expense of great creative output.'

‘Although this may seem like a lot to handle, the rapid changes and fast-breaking opportunities facing marketers in the 21st century suggest to us that the best ones will have good answers to all of these questions. In our opinion, those that do will not only enjoy above-market growth, they will define the next golden age of marketing.’

All fascinating. In the corporate world it wasn't long ago that marketing struggled to even get itself represented on the Board in many cases. In contrast, it now has the opportunity to influence product development and help shape the business itself. Opportunities therefore abound for agencies, who were often stuck in positions of merely creating defined deliverables to a not-very-senior level of management. Now, they can be advising a newly-elevated marketer whose strategic influence on the company could hardly be any greater. An exciting prospect indeed for marketing agencies, digital agencies and the entire creative sector to help bridge the gap between brand and customer, and at the highest level.

Source: McKinsey 'The dawn of marketing's new golden age'