According to the latest IBM C-Suite report, in 3-5 years 60% of CEOs expect the influence of customers to grow most on developing business strategy, up from 43% of CEOs today. And that those companies that do leverage customers in business strategy development strongly outperform their peers that don’t. Talk about exciting times ahead for marketers as strategic partners in the C-Suite!
But for marketers to take advantage of the opportunity, they have to be ready to incorporate the rapid evolution of marketing technology and automation to improve the quantification of what has been traditionally been a hard thing to quantify.
As I wrote about earlier this year in a 3-part guest series for the Business Marketing Association SoCal chapter blog, this technological evolution has spawned a great deal of concern about the “death of creativity”, or the decreasing importance of the creative process in marketing. I disagree. What all this technology has done is restored a sense of balance to marketing that is forcing us as marketers to be the best creative storytellers of our brands, without losing sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, we are stewards that must show some kind of positive business outcome from our efforts. That is, after all, what the company is paying us to do.
Successful marketers, especially in B2B, have to be able to show business results that are understandable to their C-Suite peers: CFO, COO, CHRO, CIO, etc. The language of “conversions” and “reach” are important from a marketing standpoint, to be sure. But marketing technology is giving us an unprecedented opportunity to measure better than ever before how those marketing metrics yield real business outcomes: sales, cost of customer acquisition, pipeline conversion rates, detailed analytical insights from win/loss analysis, lifetime customer value, changes in customer retention rates, profits, etc. When we can speak that language of BUSINESS, not just MARKETING, we earn our right to be at the table. And like Sales, who learned this lesson long ago to be the “voice of the customer” at that table, Marketing can now prove our value as the “voice of the market” (where market = aggregate of customers). This opens for the first time in many organizations to be taken seriously as strategic advisors, not just brand stewards, at a time when the CEO sees customers themselves as strategic partners.
I think our role in the ongoing marketing technology evolution is to use these new technologies to continue to drive strong metrics, optimizing marketing processes that need serious automating and optimization, and ultimately free us to focus on the great creative storytelling that brought most of us into Marketing in the first place. I hope to be part of that discussion at upcoming events like TechMarketing 360