Tamara Grunebaum
Tamara Grunebaum 5 April 2016

The 10 awkward truths of Modern Marketing

Marketing is undergoing incredible change and CMOs have never faced so many challenges. Today, to be successful, marketers have to manage areas they never had to before, including social media interaction, customer service, driving revenue growth, new market penetration, customer-led innovation, change management, technologies…. The list goes on.

Marketing is undergoing incredible change and CMOs have never faced so many challenges. Today, to be successful, marketers have to manage areas they never had to before, including social media interaction, customer service, driving revenue growth, new market penetration, customer-led innovation, change management, technologies…. The list goes on.

Working with Marketing Visionaries over the last few years, you see certain patterns begin to emerge, common trends and themes, awkward or not. We as marketers have to face them head on. If we do, we can turn that frown upside down and create fantastic new opportunities for growth.

1. The way we buy things has radically changed

With the explosion of information available at their finger-tips, buyers are sometimes better educated on a companies products than the sales team. The way they buy has changed. The way they communicate and are expecting to engage with and consume information has changed. Über-informed, they are fickle, impatient and jump from one device or source of information to another. By the time they finally connect with the sales team (if they indeed do at all), chances are they have self-navigated their way through a large part of the buyer’s journey.

2. Some traditional methods are failing

What is traditional anyway? Well there are still some persistent notions that Brand is everything, and often Brand is referenced in terms of traditional advertising and audio/visual mechanisms. Is that really what Brand is today?

Communication channels are so much more complex, and advertising projects with little measurability have drastically reduced in terms of marketing spend. Why spend money on something if you can’t tell if it works? Brand is no longer everything, with customers able to quickly assess a product or services excellence, features or value for money against lesser-known players. If you’re in any doubt, consider the explosion of new economy companies that have risen to become some of the world’s largest corporations whilst much loved and respected brands of old have fallen by the wayside. The playing field has been levelled. Today a small startup of 10 A-Class players can run rings around a traditional corporation with 100,000 C-Class players.

For the modern marketer, ‘vanity metrics’ are also now a risky business. Citing measures relating to activity - rather than performance don’t pull much sway with the top table (for example click-through rates or opens). Some traditional methods like print and email are failing, we have to be even more creative and clever in capturing our audience.

“The days of hiding behind vague metrics like influence and awareness are over. The leadership team now judges marketing successes and failures faster by using on-line systems and dashboards.” (Forrester)

3. The CMO now has a revenue target not a marketing budget

Gone are the days when a marketing manager had a budget to spend on creative, advertising, some direct mail and brochures. Now the Chief Marketing Officer sits at the board level and has a revenue target to hit - not a budget to spend. As such marketers are under closer scrutiny than ever before - and now from the board.

When reporting on marketing results, they have to adopt objectives and metrics linked directly to overall business goals — like customer acquisition, retention, market share, and account penetration. They now operate a Demand Centre entwined with the sales and operations functions. CMOs report that they have to do a lot more with usually no increase in budget. It’s become really hard knowing where to spend the marketing euros/pounds/dollars. A fundamental change in the use and allocation of marketing budgets needs careful thought and planning.

4. Marketing is now really complex, data driven and scientific

Technology has changed everything, the way we communicate, manage our lives and buy things. As a modern marketer you need to know your technology and data and how to build strategies around it. With digital and marketing automation technologies, you can manage the data you need to track the buyer’s journey and transform it in useful insights for your action plans.

Your ability to effectively track, measure, analyse and manage your data is critical to better understanding your prospects and customers’ needs, nurturing them with more relevant content, and ultimately preparing them for a conversation with your sales team.

5. Many marketers struggle with digital world technologies versus start ups

“The first thing marketing heads need to ask is whether they and their fellow marketing leaders are knowledgeable about social, new technology, audience development strategies, targeting, media buying and optimisation.”
(, Europe: Skills Gap Buck Stops At The Very Top)

Reality is, two-thirds of marketers (63%) find it very difficult to keep up with the changes. On the other hand, as mentioned above - small start ups can run rings round large companies. In the past, doing great marketing required great budgets, which start ups didn’t have. In the last few years, things have changed. The social web, SaaS and cloud technology created affordable channels in communication.

Start-ups are now perfectly positioned to out-know, inspire and sort customers, compared to large companies who need to accept change, loosen their status quo and tear down boundaries. Competition has never been so fast paced. It has lead to a new discipline of Agile Marketing - the ability to react, respond and execute quickly.

6. The lines between sales, marketing and customer support are blurring

Changes in buyers’ behaviour - and their desire to self-educate and research on-line, requires marketing and sales teams to work much closer together. In fact it's becoming harder to see where marketing ends and sales begin.

Marketers have to understand the buyer’s journey from early level awareness through to nurturing and sales enablement. There is a greater need for cross-functional collaboration. A need to lead the organisation out of traditional silos, improve and standardise processes.

“A modern marketer is one who can have a good conversation with the CFO, driven by numbers, about what you bring to the company's bottom line.”
Massimo Sangiovanni, Marketing VP, Europe and Africa, Motorola.

7. Many marketing teams are not setup for modern marketing

With the change of the marketing landscape, managing change internally can be painful. An awkward truth is that we meet many seasoned marketers with 20+ years tenure who have realised this isn’t for them. The job has changed and grown around them into something new - and altogether technical and unfamiliar. The elephant in the room question is: Do you have the right team in place? The right roles, responsibilities, background and experience to manage this complex world of modern marketing.

A good start is to carry out an assessment (like Theory Modern Marketing Maturity Assessment) against fixed questions and criteria that can help you evaluate your team, improve skills and make the right hires.

8. Big companies still focus on tactics not holistic growth strategies

Many marketing teams still focus on the tactics and not the strategy, often driven by goals and targets that are very short term. The result? Short tactical campaigns often focused on a creative theme, offer or gimmick designed to catch sales ready leads. There is always a need for these types of tactics, but with buyers ever more connected and informed - and owning so much of the buyer’s journey themselves, marketers have to think bigger - beyond the tempting tactic.

Marketers need to rethink their marketing strategy over tactics, prioritize collaborative opportunities, strengthen the marketing team, and collaborate with peers about how to put real customer needs front and center. While North American marketers are beginning to focus more on demand generation and sales, European marketers focus equally as much on loyalty and relationship marketing (Forrester). So, this takes time and planning. It requires change management, training and hard work. Results speak for themselves: 69% of marketers who built a go-to market strategy, saw a significant increase in revenue. It’s time to take action and think big.

9. How customer-obsessed are you?

To manage multi-channel relationships, it’s imperative you understand your customers, and what they are passionate about. Every interaction, whether it’s on or off line, events, products, services and after sales, have to be satisfying, easy and useful to the customer.

Personalisation is the biggest opportunity to change the connected brand experience. What is interesting is not who the customer is but what she does and how she (and people like her) behaves. This is an indicator of where she is in the buyer’s journey. Do you know at what point your individual prospects and customers are in the buyer’s journey? Or do you still send them campaign information on your terms?

10. Content is key! Align you artistic and analytical sides

55%-77% of content produced is not successfully used or consumed. (TheoryGlobal Survey)

This reveals a few things. Companies are furiously creating content that either:

  1. Is not being delivered successfully to prospects
  2. Cannot use the content (because its the wrong format/medium)
  3. They are producing too much content of low value

In the social media era, and with all the demands of modern marketing it can be tempting to generate hundreds of pieces of content - the worry that you need to make a lot of noise - constantly.

With content - it's quality versus quantity. It’s better to have five key pieces of content for a product (which can be atomised for different purposes) rather than nervously belching out copious amounts of poor quality content trying to get attention.

Without a unified process across departments, time and resources are wasted on ineffective assets that burn up budget without delivering results. To engage with prospects and customers in a meaningful way, you must develop tactics to address and align messaging across all digital channels. To do this effectively, you must have a content marketing strategy in place to provide educational engagements.

Use your right side and left side of the brain. Storytelling is a rare art that must be aligned to the buyer’s journey and technology data strategy. Passion, creativity, the right side of the brain, has to be used as much as analysis and logic - your left side. Every piece of timely and relevant content you serve up helps to educate prospects and eventually nudge them toward purchase. Your ability to engage buyers at these critical stages of the Journey helps to grease the wheels for sales.

Tamara Grunebaum
VP Development & Operations
Theory Global

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
8 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2023

8 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2023

The internet has conditioned customers to demand instant gratification, and that’s only set to continue. In 2023, customers will expect a response time of just hours. No more sending an email and waiting days for a...

Azeem Adam
Azeem Adam 3 May 2022
Read more
7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, which provides incredible benefits that help reach millions of customers worldwide. And if you are not applying this profitable...

Sharron Nelson
Sharron Nelson 6 February 2018
Read more
Deep Link vs. Universal Link: Which One is Better?

Deep Link vs. Universal Link: Which One is Better?

Are universal link and deep link the same thing? There are some big differences, let's understand them.

Stefano Pisoni
Stefano Pisoni 17 March 2020
Read more
How to Encourage Customers to Post Photos about Your Brand

How to Encourage Customers to Post Photos about Your Brand

Visuals impact buyer behavior – there’s no doubt about it. But not just any visuals will have the impact you planned on your eCommerce marketing strategy. If the only images your customers see in relation to...

Luisana Cartay
Luisana Cartay 8 June 2016
Read more
Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Although the trend of a Business to Business portal is not new but the evolution of technology has indeed changed the way they function. Additional digital trading features and branding has taken the place of...

Salman Sharif
Salman Sharif 7 July 2017
Read more