If there ever was a reason for me to write about the future of marketing, it was in 2009. The theme though is as alive today as it was then. Some argue little has changed, others state the new era has already arrived. And there is Nilofer Merchant (@Nilofer) who suggests Marketing is Dead and then comes up with 5 ways to replace it. All in itself these five ways are things I can relate to, but they don’t make it as replacements for Marketing, in my humble opinion.
I recommend you read Ron Shevlin’s (@Rshevlin) post, a response to Merchant’s post, titled: The Death of Marketing (Madness). The subtitle of his blog (A (Mostly) Humorous Look at Marketing in the Age of Social Media) says it all. A very welcome critical and lighthearted voice in this age of Marketing deadly replacements.
What Really Replaces Marketing (Madness)
Here’s my take on What Really Replaces Marketing (Madness). I will do so following the story line of my recent Guest Lecture for the Marketing faculty, headed by Peter Verhoef, of the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). The guest lecture was titled: Marketing Leadership in age of Service.
I largely agree with Nilofer Merchant that Marketing needs to change its act. I have had that feeling for a long time, before 2009, when working in Customer Services, seeing the debris of (direct) marketing campaigns, failed brand promises and what have you. Early 2009 I started reading into the works of Steve Vargo and Robert Lusch named A Service Dominant Logic and I was introduced to the “Customer-Jobs-to-be-Done” innovation framework. Both combined provided a thinking framework that just made all pieces I had in my mind come together. You can read about my thoughts on that here (part 1) and here (part 2).
Three Concepts Combined
The bottom line in my thinking is that, since Value is dominantly created in-use and is a result of co-creation between company and Customer, marketing strategies should shift their focus from creating momentum for value exchange (the sale) to creating momentum for interactions that support Customers in creating value for themselves. And since value is something that can only be defined by its beneficiary we need to understand what outcomes Customers desire when they hire a company’s resources to get their jobs done. The Customer’s journey towards that outcome is where opportunity for marketing lies to design service that support Customers, employees and partners to co-create more (or better?) value together.
That may sound a bit posh (or a little more than a bit), but the combination of the three concepts (Service Dominant Logic, Customer Jobs-to-be-Done, Service Design) has been a powerful one. Not only to explain the outside world, but also to drive innovation in Marketing in my current role.
Three Ways Marketing Needs to Change
Marketing needs to change in three fundamental ways. First marketeers need to understand that they need to let go of a (communication) campaign driven methodology. Marketeers need to turn into Service Designers that are capable of designing end-to-end experiences. And they need not only design, orchestrate and market the experience (or value proposition in Service Dominant Logic terminology), they also need to ensure the company’s capability to deliver on the promise. And this also means involving, and taking responsibility for, company partners in the value network.
Secondly, marketeers need to start understanding that it really matters who you drive through the sales funnel. Goods-logic Marketeers don’t care about the quality of the lead, Service-Logic marketeers do, because they truly care about how they make their Customers feel in the end, and because they know serving the right Customer is a lot easier and vastly more profitable than serving just any Customer.
Thirdly, the next generation of marketeers should understand that there’s more to value in a Customer than just their wallet. Obviously we understand these days that a Customer’s connections matter, if only because they can tell a whole lot more about the Customer, than she will tell you herself. When seeing Customers as co-creators a lot more opportunities open up, like having them do work for you, because the Customer ends up with a better outcome, or by valuing their feedback as opportunities to improve on the Service you provide.
7 Marketer Jobs in the Age of Service
To make it a little more concrete I wrote down 7 jobs Marketers need to get done, if they want to make it in the age of Service. Here they are:
- Marketing’s first job is to understand Customer’s jobs & outcomes (or value creation process) and where in that process they fail to meet their desired outcome. This will involve both analytical approaches and qualitative approaches (like Customer Journey Mapping) for understanding the voice of the Customer. And these programs need to be focused outside the building, not within the walls of the firm (e.g. internal process mapping).
- Secondly Marketers need to build relationships in communities of individuals with similar Jobs-to-be-done and desired Outcomes. Traditional ways of segmenting Customers by their age or other demographic qualities have become largely obsolete in the worlds individualistic melting pot of cultures, lifestyles and routines. People bond with people that think and act alike. People bond with different people for different outcomes. Think Nike Plus and you know what I’m talking about.
- Their third job is to start supporting Customers to create value, not doing stuff to create value to the company. Stop trying to design a service that helps solve your problem of liquidity. Solve your Customers problem and they will solve yours in return. Sounds like basics, but I stumble upon the self-centered version still several times a month.
- Marketing’s fourth job is to design for interactions that stimulate engagement in these networks or communities (=your Customer segment!). Whereas most businesses seem to be focused on reducing (costly) interactions with their Customers, smart companies focus on increasing value co-creating interactions with their Customers and between Customers. Think GiffGaff and Best Buy as good examples of companies doing just that. Result? Keeping costs low and making Customers happy.
- More and more I think that the fifth job is one of the most important ones: engaging employees and partners in supporting Customers to co-create value. You can name it internal branding or your HR-policy to motivate employees, it is of vital importance that they understand what you are doing with your Customers and why, and what their role is in this journey. I find it helps a great deal if you get the first job done right. This will provide you with tangible frameworks and memes that will make it easier to get people involved and move towards a pro-active state of mind, the one that Customers need :)
- Your 6th job is to extract actionable insights out of 360 degree feedback to foster innovations and design new value propositions that attract new Customers. If you don’t listen, you don’t win. If you don’t improve, you will loose. If you don’t innovate, you’ll die (oops.. I did it..)
- Your last job is to redesign metrics that capture the engagement value to firm and to ensure that there is a high correlation to these metrics and Customer’s value created. If you can’t measure, you can’t manage. Old metrics focused on transactions and/or interactions are there to stay. The new way is to combine them with Customer value metrics and not evaluate them in isolation, but as a system (balanced scorecard still works for me..).
That’s it. Marketing’s new madness, according to me. Nothing really complex, but also easier said than done. And not the only ones either. You still need to sell you know, so go on and make nice commercials and create advertising. Just think different about what you are advertising for..
And I know it works and that this is a change I can “sell” to the C-level. Jobs 1 to 7, I’m doing them a little better every day.
Please check out my slides. They should fit the story you’ve read above. And please let me know what you think in the comments.