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The Morphing Marketing Landscape: No Country for Old Men?

AcxiomJuly 23, 2015

“I always liked to hear about the old-timers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can’t help but compare yourself against the old-timers. Can’t help but wonder how they would have operated these times.”

–         Sheriff Ed Tom Bell

 First off, if you haven’t read Cormac McCarthy’s seminal neo-Western thriller novel (or seen the Academy Award winning film adaptation) make it a priority. The novel, set in 1980’s West Texas, draws parallels to the marketing landscape back in that same year, with the desolate desert landscape setting and its inhabitants having the belief that there was a certain way things were always done. Marketing back in the pre-internet age of 1980 had much the same ethos and the traditional pillars of marketing at the heart of its activities: public relations, radio, TV, print formed the weaponry in a marketer’s holster.

Fast forward to 2015 and we know the landscape looks very different. The continued importance of dollar spend in data-driven marketing is turning CMO’s heads towards the ad:tech darlings of the Marketing Technology lumascape. This stack of technologies, vendors and agencies are those that marketers are expected to get to grips with in order to deliver a better customer experience and ultimately improve their brand’s bottom line.

With the proliferation of these new technologies the increasingly difficult question for CMOs to answer is: Which vendor is most suited to addressing mine and my customers’ needs?

Let’s go back to No Country for Old Men, in one of the opening scenes, the protagonist Llewelyn Moss stumbles across an abandoned suitcase containing several million dollars (after discovering the ruminants of a mass bloody shoot-out between rival gangs). That big dollar prize is now the reality (in increased profitability) for marketers who can truly deliver an enhanced customer experience. This shootout could be seen as the numerous brands out there vying for their share of the customer wallet, but the successful brand who claims the sale, does so not only by having a great product but by also using the right tools in a smarter way to improve their understanding of their customers. The customer purchase journey is not driven by brands but by what motivates their customers to actually complete a purchase.

This ‘new-age’ and digital and technological renaissance of the marketing landscape affords marketers more capabilities and tools than ever before, from programmatic, social media, beacon technology, augmented and virtual reality, wearables, IoT, to gain this insight and get closer to customers. However there’s one fundamental piece in that jigsaw that makes them invaluable to brands trying to establish a meaningful connection with customers – the data.

It’s no secret that we all like being treated as individuals and we appreciate the small touches that you get when staying at your favourite hotel or booking your next flight abroad. If you’re not thinking about the customer journey at every touch point, how to delight and enhance their journeys, how to create loyalty so wherever they are on their journey when they’re ready to buy, they think of your brand, then you’re already behind.

To close the loop, in order for complete customer recognition, data is crucial. For many brands, their recognition capabilities alone are not enough, as they often sit within their respective silos across an organization. The marketer’s Holy Grail (another one right?) is the ability to connect multiple data sources outside their own environment in a secure Safe Haven environment. Data Onboarding (matching 1st and 3rd party data for a single customer view) is fundamental to achieve this and brands should align themselves with a trusted partner in order to fully maximise and activate their own data, critical if they are to fully leverage their customers insights, not just based on the information they have but on how an individual behaves, and their true path to purchase. Only then will they be able to create true one-to-one marketing and communications and better customer experiences through connected, activated insight across all channels and devices.

Is this really No Country for Old Men? Well, not exactly, it’s not a question of age but more of a question of understanding the interplay of new channels and emerging technologies and their impact on the customer experience. Many (not all!) CMOs and Marketing Directors will be forced to adapt their skillset and, whilst they don’t have to be able to tactically implement these solutions, they should have an innate understanding of what these partners/vendors can do to improve the overall customer experience with their brands. So in this new data-driven landscape it’s No Country for Old Schoolers. It’s adapt or die and the stakes have never been higher.