New Realities In The Ever-Evolving Art And Science Of Modern Marketing

Fred Isbell

Marketing technology is continuing to evolve despite past predictions of market consolidation. The number of options is growing, and the needs are becoming more intricate. While Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” may have declared that “there’s no place like home,” the reality of today’s marketing environment is too complicated and fast-changing to stay in one place—and it’s good to get out in the world and look around occasionally.

Last month, I had two excellent opportunities to interact and learn from experts and peers who are seeing firsthand the ever-evolving art and science behind modern marketing: MarTech 2017 co-located with the Marketo Marketing Nation Roadshow event in Boston and the Richmond Events Marketing Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona. During interactions, sessions, and conversations, I was struck by the evidence that marketing is still in a period of rapid transformation.

The convergence of marketing automation and data-driven insights

The shift from marketing automation to engagement platforms is accelerating due to the confluence of artificial intelligence, data-driven marketing, and predictive analytics. According to Marketo CEO Steve Lucas, everything has changed and expectations have radically shifted; consequently, we are in a new era—an “engagement economy”— with fundamentally different expectations around engagement, personalization and the customer buying experience. IDC analyst Gerry Murray supported Lucas’ observations by noting that cognitive intelligence is now squarely within the marketing practice as data science and insights-led marketing rise into prominence. This is supported by the continued expansion of marketing technology (MarTech). Although we’re predicted market consolidation for years, that’s not the case yet. Scott Brinker’s keynote at MarTech 2017 showcased a market of more than 5,000 MarTec players (a 32-fold increase since 2011) and the MarTec market landscape that Scott regularly updates is still growing with no sign of consolidation.

MarTec market landscapeThe “super marketer” of the past who does everything is not returning anytime soon. No one person can “do it all” in today’s complex and rapidly-changing environment; it’s the extended team and partnerships transcending organizational structures that bring success. As marketing technology evolves, the marketing function will need to combine left-brain and right-brain skills to choose a specific focus and leverage their strengths to help surrounding talent and teams work with as much effectiveness and impact as possible.

Three best practices to kick off the journey to modern marketing

The marketing landscape has changed so drastically in a short amount of time and marketers are looking for prescriptive advice to deliver measurable business outcomes and successfully engage sales stakeholders. After years of watching this new era of marketing unfold, I shared three fundamental practices at the Richmond Events Marketing Forum to jump-start the journey to modern marketing, digital marketing, and building strategic competencies.

1. Thought leadership and storytelling

I have long valued storytelling as a tool for communicating critical issues and solutions and providing responding to customers and prospects in a compelling manner. Without requiring the audience to piece together the story themselves, thought leadership weaves together key messages and value as it relates to the target audience’s persona(s). It is part of an effective content management approach that is focused primarily on awareness, choice, and consideration. However, it can be effectively used in demand generation and is also increasingly linked to successful Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

2. Digital marketing and the modern Webcast

Webcasts have been a must-have ingredient in my marketing secret sauce throughout my nearly 30-year high-tech marketing career. And there’s a good reason for that: it’s a great vehicle for storytelling. Structured as a panel format, a mix of internal, external, and customer speakers can provide a well-rounded perspective on a specific topic. By adopting what IDC calls a “promotable cascade of content” and using snack-sized content, marketers can leverage Webcasts to optimize content for consumption across a variety of digital mediums and campaigns.

3. Marketing analytics and performance management

Insight-driven marketing is a key component of the science in the art and science of modern marketing. The data sciences function in marketing is gaining in importance; the challenge for the modern marketer isn’t necessarily to become a data scientist, but to be able to recognize opportunities for insights-led marketing and leverage this function to enhance and optimize marketing efforts. I highlighted traditional approaches such as dashboards and discussed newer approaches including predictive analytics and specifically propensity models, which are fast becoming key elements of the Modern Marketing toolkit.

In closing, I shared the seven common personas of a CMO and the advice to leverage your own strengths as you are the CMO of your own unique modern marketing journey—and this approach speaks to both the art and science of the journey. We are truly in an era of insights-driven marketing, and it’s a fascinating time indeed. But as the sage advice from SiriusDecisions reminds us all, marketing still needs to be strategic, integrated, focused, measurable, insightful, and process-driven. And above all else, it must result in meaningful and measurable outcomes for the business.

Please check out my presentation and “virtual trip report” from the Marketing Forum. I am looking forward to participating in and speaking at future events – stay tuned for the additional insights to follow.


About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.