The prime objective of a business strategy is to set the direction for the business and create itsstructure so that the product and services it provides its customers meet the overall businessobjectives. Marketing plays the critical role of understanding and managing the link between thebusiness and the every changing business environment, and enables the business strategy to meetits stated objectives.Marketing has evolved over the past 5-10 years, keeping pace with the changing consumerprofiles which have been impacted by global events. Customer’s preferences and profiles havechanged not only in the developed markets, but also in the emerging, under developed markets.This change has been facilitated by diffusion of technology, which permeates our daily lives.Most notably, mobile communications and the internet have led to disruptive socio-economicchanges in global markets, followed by disruptive innovations in marketing by leading brandowners, who were quick to realize the changes impacting the markets they served and leveragedthe change as a profitable business opportunity.The tenets of marketing, as depicted in the marketing framework (Solutions Insights Inc.) remainuniversally constant and relevant. Subtle variations in application are likely, based on thematurity of the market and the nature of the business to which they are applied. For example in amature market like the US, where services contribute heavily to the GDP, the specific elementsof the framework that help the marketer deliver value to the CLIENT will be key. On the otherhand in a developing market like India, where products and not services contributed most to theGDP, elements of the framework that enable the marketer to deliver value to the CUSTOMERwill be important. A simple example is the comparison of the markets of the US and India withreference to the marketing framework; it reveals that while the concept of relationshipmanagement (Fourth Pillar) is key to the success of any marketing strategy in the US, in India,this important element of the framework is in its early stages of infancy, with marketers wakingup to its potential strategic leverage, now.What has also changed in the past 5-10 years is that, brand owners have realized that the gains inmarketing services are far higher than marketing products. Marketers have assessed that“service”, an intangible value offer, provides the necessary leverage of putting a pricingpremium and thus driving revenue and profits of the marketing mix strategy. Therefore, productdriven companies have strived to “envelop” their product offer with a service element as a“bundle” to derive maximum consumer value, while creating consumer delight.A prime example would be the blackberry handsets, targeted primarily at the business executive,which offered mobile devices, primarily for email access and telephony. RIM upped the ante bylaunching its BBM (Blackberry Messenger) service on its secure Blackberry platform andoperating within its Blackberry eco-system. This proved to be a key differentiator between theBlackberry and other smart phone devices that did not offer this service. Adoption of theBlackberry as the mobile device of choice within the business community was quick because ofthis service feature that was introduced by RIM exclusively on their devices. Mobile operatorswere quick to cash in on the USP of the service and in an extremely value conscious market likeIndia offered special packages built around “only BBM Service”.
However, this very example is also a reminder to marketers to eschew complacency and tocontinue to ideate and build upon one good idea. The RIM marketing team was very slow torealize the social connectivity potential of its BBM service, and was late in the market with itsBBM Music service, delayed its photo sharing functionality in the service and could notarticulate the collaboration capabilities of the BBM service. It thus lost its first mover advantagewhich is a lesson to all marketers.Over the past 5-10 years, social media has evolved from a pure social play to a distinct mediumfor advertisers and marketers to leverage and reach out to their target customers. This trend hasbeen observed globally and has wiped out the boundaries between the developed economies ofthe west and the developing economies of the emerging world. The social media, driven by theincreasing penetration of the internet has been a game changer for the marketer. Usingtechnology and tools at the backend, the marketer has been able to track the effectiveness ofevery US dollar spent on his marketing efforts on social media platforms. ROI can now beconfidently tied to marketing budgets, and a new industry vertical has been created that isfocused solely on providing the necessary tools to the online marketer to analyze data in realtime and come up with logical business conclusions.The role of the modern marketer has also evolved from just an analyzer of data generated by thefield sale force, to a tech savvy resource, who analyzes online consumer centric data, generateddaily, in real time, and is able to connect the field data with the results obtained from the onlinecommunity. He now needs to have the capability to utilize the learning from these two distinctdata sources, and use that intelligence creatively to create a marketing strategy that effectivelysupports the business strategy. The role of the marketer will continue to evolve as the marketsand the consumers evolve with the expected socio-economic changes in the world order in yearsto come.Over the next 5 years, I believe that marketing function will begin to have greater credibility andwill firmly establish itself as the main driver of business strategy. The foundations of this changeare being laid right now, with clear emphasis on analytics and data driven marketing strategies.Tools and technologies are enabling contemporary marketers to connect ROI, Sales revenues,foot falls, intent to purchase, actual purchase etc directly to their marketing expenditures andthereby to the marketing strategy. No more will marketing be seen as a “soft” function, wheremarketing budgets are expenditures and not investments. Data collation and collection usingmobile enabled technologies and applications will be commonplace in the field (SurveyMonkey). This field data, along with data collected from digital marketing initiatives will beanalyzed by tools to guide the marketing team to make informed decisions and succeed in themarkets of the future. Big data analysis capability will be a competitive edge for the successfulmarketer of the future. Big data and analytics will drive marketing in the future.With the advent and rapid evolution of the digital space, the marketer will need to possess digitalmarketing skills. In order to build an effective digital marketing team, he will have to identifytech savvy netizens who live and breathe the internet and can connect with the online communityand engage with them to develop critical consumer insights on the online community.
The attention span of the consumer is short, and more likely to get even shorter as morecompetitors vie for your target consumer- this will necessitate that creative ideas are converted tocompelling communication, in as short a time as possible, and then immediately delivered to theintended target audience in a well planned and coordinated , integrated marketingcommunication program. Marketers will have to be mindful of consumer fatigue with repetitiveads and communication, and in order to overcome this challenge, the marketer will need to createa rich funnel of creative ideas, which can be pulled out at the right time to be quickly producedinto an attractive communication package and served to the audience. This will need to be anongoing process and an integral part of the marketing strategy.Product marketing companies and their CMOs will have to continue to strive to envelop theirproduct with a service offer to derive maximum revenues. CMOs in product marketingcompanies will need to ideate on what elements of a service can be offered as a bundle to theirconsumer that will create customer delight as well as ensure brand loyalty.Marketers will also have to build a business that goes beyond the offer. This will be a reality inthe future where consumers will develop affinity to brands based on their perception of what thebrand stands for, above and beyond the perceived obvious emotional and economic benefits.Consumers will be influenced by issues like the environment, social inclusion, sustainable livingand other ideals that they hold close to their heart when making buying decisions and brands thatare able to align with some of these issues are likely to succeed in the long run.Product and process innovations, driven by marketing thought leadership will continue to begame changers in an increasingly competitive market place. Marketers, capable of driving andmanaging innovation will be successful in charting long term careers. Marketing professionals inthe marketing functions will need to develop innovation management skills in order to lead theirbusiness teams in the future. Marketing will play a critical role in advising R&D and product/service developments teams to come up with innovative solutions that address challenges thatthey have identified through incisive consumer insights. Marketing will also provide thoughtleadership to operations to innovate processes that will not only save costs for the company, butwill enable a richer consumer experience and create customer delight.The BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid) markets are becoming increasingly relevant and they willcontinue to be in the future. Marketing will have to develop far greater consumer insights onthese markets and ideate on how diffusion of mobile communication can be used to connect withthese consumers. Marketing will have to build teams that comprise resources who haveexperience and insights on these markets and are able to articulate customized marketingstrategies to understand and exploit these markets to their full potential.Most important, marketing in the future will need to be very responsive to rapid changes in themarket place and to identify the best ideas, in the shortest possible time and get these ideas totheir consumers with the most cost effective go-to-market strategy.Solutions marketing as opposed to product or service marketing will be the key competitive andcomparative edge and will have long term positive ramifications to those marketing programsthat embrace it now and build on it as the core of the marketing strategy.
The solutions insight marketing framework will be the reference guide that will help marketingteams to develop compelling marketing strategy and effective marketing programs. Themarketing framework will be a living document that will need to adapt and evolve with thechanges taking place in global markets.The consumer will continue to be king and all marketing strategies will essentially revolvearound understanding the consumer, identifying his specific need, customizing a solution to meethis need, creating consumer delight through a service offer with the solution, and creatingcompelling consumer engagement programs to maximize returns from a satisfied consumer overthe life of the consumers association with your brand and your offer.