MI:7 – The Marketing Agenda 2012 – 2017

Home MI:7 – The Marketing Agenda 2012 – 2017

The Belgian Marketing Foundation recently interviewed leading marketers about the key trends that will mark the commercial radar screen in the next five years. Being one of their recent Master Marketers – a prestigious nomination in Belgium and one I a proud of – I was one of the interviewees. While reviewing my notes, I inadvertently thought about the new Mission Impossible movie series. MI:4 is about to be launched in the movie theatres worldwide. The Ghost Protocol will again star – for the last time, apparently – Tom Cruise.

This blogpost is written by Prof. dr. Rudy K. Moenaert (TiasNimbas Business School & Vision2B).

Marketers are already a few sequels ahead of the Tom Cruise bunch. We are confronting MI:7. I will use alliteration, a century old trick that has been widely used in poetry and music, to convey my thoughts on the marketing agenda 2012 – 2017. Ever since McCarthy bombarded the 4P classification into marketing stardom, we have been thoroughly familiar with this style.

Information Technology: Facebook, SAP, Tripadvisor, FourSquare, Siebel, Groupon, Booking.com, iTunes, Twitter… The list of IT-enabled businesses that have converted formerly fragmented markets into winners-takes-all or winner-takes-most markets is nearly endless. Innovation guru Michael Cusumano rightly argues that we must not longer think product but rather product and services (“Staying Powerâ€, 2010).

Integration: Generation Y is making its first inroads into the organizational pyramid. These so-called Echo Boomers are true digital natives. The sequel to the 1990 classic ‘Home Alone’, starring Macaulay Culkin, would nowadays be labelled ‘Never Alone’. Generation Y expects nothing less than transparency and authenticity on behalf of the people around them, and their employers. The fourty somethings who are currently leading the marketing departments in many organisations may find themselves not only outmoded, but most likely also outwitted by their younger subordinates. Just watch a toddler, who is used to the iPad interface, try to swipe its way to the next screen on your PC. Well… that toddler is your customer!

Intelligence: I continue to be profoundly amazed how inadequate the academic community is reacting on the opportunities provided by the new scenery. The internet provides huge opportunities to study customers, competitors and other stakeholders. As a test, I just screened some of the leading textbooks that are currently used in the top notch American business schools. It is simply frightening to see how disconnected the methodology of marketing research has become from the connected world it is probing. Folks, there’s a lot more to focus on than the methodological principles underlying ad hoc marketing surveys.

Internationalization: In the past, our thinking in the Western world has focused on developing countries as low cost production centres and avenues for channeling Barbie, beer and cosmetics. However, the center of gravity is rapidly shifting towards the Far East. Most likely, the 7th billion person on this planet was born in Asia. They do not any longer consider themselves as passive outposts in the Far East, slavishly implementing the agenda of the Western headquarters. No, led by pride, people and the power of money, they are now building their own global corporations and brands. A voice over in a new edition of “How the West was won†might just suggest it all started in the Far East. Chris Burggraeve, the Chief Marketing Officer of AB Inbev, and one of the other two Belgians who was appointed Master Marketer a few nights ago, stated it quite simply:

“The Belgian marketer of the future will be international, or he won’t be a marketerâ€.

A very valid observation.

Integrity: Any relationship between a person and another person in reality involves three parties: the first person (‘me’), the other person (‘you’), and the pair (‘us’). In the age of one way communication, the company (me) was able to define the relationship at great discretion. Personally, I do not think for a moment that the presidential amibitions of DSK, the brand label commonly used to indicate Dominique Strauss-Kahn, would have been dented at all by his escapades if this had occurred 50 years ago. However, we have entered the age of transparency. Morons, however high located in the organizational chart are nowadays confronted with you who want a greater say in us. That is very much needed. We do not want idiots such as Bob Diamond, CEO of Barclays Bank, saying in a parliamentary committee in January of 2011: “There was a period of remorse and apology; that period needs to be over. We need our banks willing to take risks, to be confident and to work with the private sector in the UK to create jobs and improve economic growthâ€. Vineet Nayar, author of “Employees First, Customers Secondâ€, is correct: transparency keeps the house clean. And if I may add, it keeps idiots such as Bob Diamond under scrutiny. Even Michael Porter himself calls for shared value rather than shareholder value.

Investment: In our book ‘Marketing Strategy & Organisation‘ (2nd Edition, LannooCampus, 2011), we quote Sir George Bull, a long time veteran of the British beverage industry. He observed the following: “The marketing function bears all the hallmarks of abstract art – it costs an arm and a leg, it bears only a passing resemblance to real life, and you’re never quite sure what you’ve got at the end of it allâ€.

The Return on Marketing

The Return on Marketing is still a gypsy metric. It must not be. Marketing activities are investments in the business model of the firm. We need marketers who not only understand the ins and outs of an advertising campaign, but who can also calculate and sell the net present value of search engine optimisation, international brand expansion, new product development and sales force recruitment. We need strong marketers, not funny marketers.
Identity: Last year, I gave a lecture for NIMA (the Netherlands Institute of Marketing). The questions asked by many reveal that marketing is suffering an identity crisis. The answer to one of my common questions in my executive classes tells the story. I often ask: “Who do you admire as a marketer?â€. ‘Steve Jobs’ is always among the first two names suggested. I do not think that the business card of Steve Jobs stated “Chief Marketing Officerâ€. He would not have accepted it anyhow.

Real marketing

What Steve Jobs did, was real marketing, and impressively transcends the two disciplines that are used to commonly summarize the field (marketing research and marketing communications). In reality, marketing is building sustainable business. The marketer is the architect and manager of the core commercial processes in the organisation. Well, it is high time to rethink the core marketing processes and organisational structures. “What ultimately constrains the performance of your organization is not its operating model, nor its business model, but its management model†(Gary Hamel in The Future of Management, pdf).

Simply stated, the label business model innovation no longer captures the challenges that await the skilful marketer. MI:7 really involves Business Model Turnaround.