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The Marketing Revolution: What Does the Future Look Like?

There are now so many nuanced ways to reach and interact with your audience that every company’s strategy is going to be different. Some have found success with good, old-fashioned television commercials. And others have found that despite interest in word-of-mouth marketing and viral videos, conversions really take place within one degree of the original marketing. So, is marketing undergoing a change so profound that it can be compared to the Industrial Revolution?

The advent of the internet, social media, and mobility has changed the face of marketing forever.  Gone are the days where marketing executives can control the information that consumers receive about their product.  The internet has created a forum where anybody who wants to can praise or criticize your company.  And as the stakes change so rapidly, executives are faced with predicting the future: how will companies be marketing themselves going forward?

The McKinsey Quarterly interviewed some of the best and brightest CMOs for their take on the future of marketing.  And they all seem to take a slightly different approach.

As the CEO of Virgin Atlanta Airways, Steve Ridgway bucks the market fragmentation trend and has been finding success with mass marketing through traditional marketing channels.  Though Ridgway acknowledges the current wisdom that it you can better reach your target audience through smaller, more concentrated efforts, his experience has been the opposite.  Coming off of two hugely successful television campaigns, Ridgway plans to stick with what works for his company.
Ridgway’s take? “But it was quite a revelation—and a surprise, frankly—for us to see how powerful it can be to put ourselves out there in the market with this really big, confident shop-window, rather than concentrating on the fragmented world that everybody is telling us we have to be in.”

John Hayes, CMO at American Express since 2003, looks at changes in marketing a little differently than Virgin Airlines’ Ridgway.  Hayes likens the transition in marketing techniques to the Industrial Revolution, and vehemently believes that the business world is changing in a profound manner. Companies are no longer able to control what the marketplace says about them, but according to Hayes they are still accountable for all that is said about them.  Perhaps it’s unfair, but it’s true, he says.

In order to face new challenges, Hayes has implemented a marketing council across all business units, working to make sure the all parts of the company are on the same page.  Hayes also makes sure that the marketing department knows what’s being written about them on blogs.  They understand the buzz in the marketplace and that allows them to respond to different situations that the company may face.

Duncan Watts,  the principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research and director of its Human Social Dynamics Group, sees the analytics as the key to the future of marketing.  There is now a tremendous amount of information that marketers can get on the effectiveness of their campaigns.  Through testing and data management, marketers can monitor consumer behavior – and that behavior may be different than you expected.  By test content, aesthetics, advertisement placement, etc. marketers can fine-tune their campaigns to optimally reach their audience and convert sales.

Read: How we see it: Three senior executives on the future of marketing

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