Irina Pashina — Future of Marketing
Leadership development expert, Content Strategy Lead at «SAP»
Module «Marketing»
4 online-sessions. 16 October 2021
Irina is a certified coach, a seasoned mentor of individuals and teams, a leadership development expert, and a marketing leader. Her passion for people development, leadership, and public speaking took her to five continents where she inspired and drove change in various industries such as technology and non-profits.
Lecture summary
What is the future of marketing in general? Marketing has a future if we focus on the right things and people. Is there confusion around marketing?
Marketing Today
It's something that was brought up many, many decades ago by someone called Theodore Levitt .And some of you might remember that he coined a term called Marketing Myopia. It was in 1960. And today, more than 60 years later, it's as relevant as ever. It's the wish to sell any products or services at any cost, no matter what consumers need. And this is what causes failure, what has caused the failure of huge companies and many small ones.

Many prominent examples like Kodak, Nokia, etc., were missing the consumer needs. What do consumers want or need at any point in time, instead of what businesses want to sell them? The innovation that we see coming up every day can only be successful and brought to people and a value if there is effective marketing because marketing ultimately brings something to the market. It's not only the perception that marketing is promotion and nothing else. This couldn't be farther away from the truth because marketing is much more than that. It is truly a strategic function and a strategic function in a challenging environment. And we are all very familiar with this concept. It is to say that it was a very different world from 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.
Five years ago, many different analysts and analytic studies had shown that more than 70% of the relationships with consumers or customers are digital and with no human interaction. So the challenge is how do we reach people?

How do we reach our audiences in the best possible way, wherever they are, without real interaction human interaction with them? How do we make sure that they still feel like human beings and create a human environment and relevant experiences, even when they don't interact with us directly? It creates a lot of challenges for marketing. And the term digital transformation is probably something that you hear multiple times, if not hundreds of times every day. And to the extent that people use it without understanding the context or knowing what it is.

Technology can only work to our benefit if it's of value to human beings, if human beings drive it, and if it creates value for them. So everything we do is a human story. It's thriving if people believe in it, and it's successful if it creates value for people. And here's where we come to marketing today and tomorrow. The term customer in a broad sense means your audience, your ultimate buyer, consumer, or potential buyer. And the second fundamental pillar is your business. Marketing is a business function, and It is known that many marketers don't like to work with numbers, or we see ourselves as creative individuals; we want to create something unique, and that's great. But ignoring the business component of what we do leads to failure as well.

It is essential to be authentic and also create meaning. Knowing what the organization stands for and showing it's sharing it with the world with a specific purpose doesn't have to be the purpose of saving the world. But what is it? Why do we exist as an organization? Every organization in the world is created to serve people in one way or another. And there are many, many different ways for-profit, nonprofit, etc. But ultimately, the organization exists as long as they create value for customers, consumers, or beneficiaries. And this is also something to keep in mind that the customer experience is the key brand differentiator for the customer.

We live in a world of commoditization, meaning that your product can be replicated in one way or another. It might not be the same product, but it can serve the same functionality. So, this cannot be a brand differentiator anymore, not to the extent it was in the past and the same with the price; it becomes increasingly challenging to compete only based on price. So what becomes the key brand differentiator why people buy from specific organizations is the customer experience they have with this organization. But bringing up here what's important from a marketing point of view is that customer insights and marketing is a unique function. We are in a unique position to get to know our customers or our audiences in the best possible way. No other function in the organization has this role; it doesn't have it to this extent.

So what we find extremely important nowadays and for the future of marketing is to get to know your customers, your audiences, as well as possible. And you might think that you know them very well. But it would be best if you got to know them even better because knowing them will help you create relevant experiences for them.

Marketing Innovations
So it's gaining these customer insights and using them and translating what you know about your customers into what you offer to them. And this is where marketing transcends the promotional role that it's sometimes seen as it can be used; the customer insights can be used for creating new products and services. So a strategic function that marketing can grow into the organization as well. And again, gaining customer insights sounds incredibly vague and also sounds like an abstract function. But depending on the size of the organization, it can be as simple as really taking the time to talk to your customers and understanding what's important to them.

What do they value in their lives? How do they view your products and offerings? What is the value that they get from them? How do they experience your organization in general, so it can be as simple as conducting interviews with them? Or it can be as sophisticated, as you know, any survey, any focus interviews with user groups, it can have any shape or form. And it cannot stop there. No, collecting data is not good enough. It's analyzing it. And also translating it into extraordinary experiences, what matters, and then measuring. And again, using this data to create even better experiences. I've done that in the area of digital customer experience. And this is what we do and have yielded excellent results.

Not to say it's perfect. It would never be a perfect experience. But the experience of getting customer audience insights, understanding what they need, when they need it, and how they need it. And then based on your marketing strategy, and also tactics on precisely that. So yeah, collecting the data, analyzing it, using it, and understanding its human side. It is a great resource and way of understanding customers and audiences. And only if they're based on real customer insights. Creating fictional personas doesn't help much. Also, creating personas based on age doesn’t help.

How much does the experience help your users or customers complete the task they have at hand is? How easy it is for them to complete the task to get the information to do whatever they need to do with you. And the third one is emotion. How do you emotionally connect with them and create an emotional experience? And it's interesting to see and remember that this last point, emotion, has the most significant influence on loyalty to your brand. So effectiveness and ease are not enough. Even when we are experienced and effective, they will do whatever you can if they can do without you. It wouldn't be enough to create new customers; it would be vital that they have an emotional connection with you as well. And the last point mentioned here in this section of focusing on your customers is the content.

We still haven't figured out a way to deal with content that's practical, efficient, and focused on the customer. And here is a reminder that content is the bridge to your audiences. So whatever you create and provide, in whatever format, the content that you show yourself in and out there is what helps you connect or disconnect with your audiences. Show content that's relevant, timely and offers something is needed at that point; it will be a completely different story. It would help everyone connect, and if it emotionally talks to the customer, there is a chance that the customer will become a loyal customer of your company. As crucial as customers are, our audiences are, our businesses as well. And we can be successful when we bring the two components together, as marketing leaders; to bring in the customer view, knowing their needs and what they need, when they need it, and how they need it.

Content Marketing is the Only Marketing Left
Along with the business goals, what do we as an organization need? What are the priorities? And when and how do we want to work as a business. And here again, the same framework with business insights, the other side of the coin. If we flip the coin, it is gaining business insights and knowing the most important business goal at hand. And how do we, as marketers, support it in the best possible way. And using this business insight to create marketing strategies to create customer experiences that matter. What is the business objective of what you're doing?

Because if we don't know what we want to achieve, what the business side of it is, there is no way we can achieve it. Suppose we don't support the bigger goal of the organization. In that case, we will ultimately be seen as an irrelevant function because we will only do as marketers create fancy or flashy images and experiences and content. But if it's not related to what the business needs, it just loses its strategic side, if you will, and it can be effective as well. And this is where I find there is a disconnect sometimes between marketing organizations within a company and the business function. Because the business side of business owners, whatever you call the business, often have something particular in mind. And if on the marketing side, we just say okay, we support you by creating this and that visual or this and that email or this or that without really understanding what the priorities are and what the goals are. It just can't be successful.

So again, to gain the business insights, let's talk about them, really, and understand the biggest priority right now. And what is the most important business goal right now? And then you need to sit down and do the marketing homework in the best possible way? What is the best marketing strategy that can support you? And how do you execute it based on the customer insights you obtained in a marketing organization uniquely positioned to collect, analyze, and use data? Marketing was seen as an art or creative area for a long time. And this is not untrue, and it's not the complete truth. Because of the scientific part, the analytical part of marketing is there as well. And this is the question that every marketer should answer, how do we deliver value and business results? Why do we do every activity? What is it that we support in terms of business results? So what is the impact that we have that we want to have? How do we make it better looking with the results that we generate for users or customers?

People are consumers or customers who would sooner or later find out what the truth is. And this is where the hunger for authenticity has come about. And the most successful companies are the ones who consistently show who they are and why they're here. So, if you look at the organization, can you say with clarity who you are? If you look at the organization as a personality, can you say what the attributes of this brand's organization are? How do we communicate with customers in the best possible way, consistently, across all channels, to all audiences we care about and how consistently and coherently and in the best possible way? Can we communicate why we are here? What is it that drives us as an organization? What is the meaning that we want to create in the world for our audiences? And ultimately, it's about connecting with people creating meaningful human interactions.

Everything we have talked about so far is about creating meaningful human interactions. Because by creating them, we will create value for the customers. And here is another valuable resource we find. It's a brand new world when it comes to building brands. And building brands is about creating meaningful human interactions, interactions that directly connect with the customer and create different ways to interact with them. And that also directly connects with commercial opportunities. Because it's not like people don't want to be marketed to, if you will, they want the right thing for them at the right time. If you get the right offering at the right time, at the right price, and in the right experience, you will be glad to have received it. An here again, thinking about delivering real value to your real customers, knowing who they are, and what value they need, and creating it for them. And then, it is an enriching experience because they will choose you, and they will consistently choose you as an organization. And by doing that, we will secure the future of marketing.