Many of the marketing-related technologies that intrigue me today have their antecedents in the science fiction stories, films, and television shows that I avidly followed in my youth.
• Personalized marketing: “Minority Report,” a 2002 film based on a 1956 short story by Philip K. Dick brilliantly anticipates the concept of personalized marketing. In the film set in 2054, the main character, John Anderton (Tom Cruise), enters a shopping mall. Sensors embedded in digital billboards recognize him and serve up customized ads that literally speak to him. A luxury car advertisement reaches out to him with the message, “The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less traveled.”
• Mobile marketing: The original “Star Trek” television series, broadcast in the late 1960’s, was set in the 2260’s. The communicator was one of the myriad of technologies featured in the series and often functioned as a key plot device. Martin Cooper, the father of the cell phone, credited the “Star Trek” communicator as the inspiration for his innovation.
• Wearables: For those of us of a certain age, it’s hard not to think of plainclothes cop, Dick Tracy, every time we see an ad for today’s generation of smart watches and wearable devices. The Dick Tracy comic strip first appeared in 1931. In 1946, Chester Gould, the creator of the comic strip introduced Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio. In 1964, a two-way wrist TV replaced the radio.
• Wired vehicles: Others, seeing today’s wired cars, can’t help but think of KITT from the 1980’s television series, “Knight Rider.”In this series, billionaire Wilton Knight rescues an injured detective and gives him a new name and a new vehicle, equipped with artificial intelligence and advanced communications and entertainment capabilities.
Each of these technologies, alone and in combination with one another, will profoundly affect both B2B and B2C marketing.
What all of these things have in common, is they provide an extremely tailored experience. At Deloitte we are striving to do the same with our marketing strategy by delivering highly customized offerings to our target buyer. Much of our marketing relies on content that we create highlighting our insights into the most challenging problems and opportunities facing our clients. Our vision is to customize the content that we deliver to our clients, based on roles (e.g., CFO vs., CIO), industries, organizational size, geographic footprint, and prior interactions with us. The smarter that we can be about targeting the content that we provide, the more helpful we will be to our clients. The architecture of our new digital platform, for example, enables us to learn from each interaction with site visitors and present what we hope will be increasingly more relevant and valuable content.
We also are looking for opportunities to deliver this content through mobile devices, including wearables. We started using responsive design when we introduced our primary content marketing site, Deloitte University Press (www.dupress.com) and an increasing number of users rely on phones, tablets, and phablets to access the site.
Our latest experiments have been podcasts. Although we tried podcasts in the past, the advanced communications and entertainment capabilities of many new vehicles have encouraged us to revisit podcasts as another platform for our content marketing efforts.
While all of these technologies will keep us busy for the time being, I suspect we will continue to look to science fiction for inspiration when it comes to the next generation of marketing technologies.
Challenges in Technology
Marketing needs to be more than a way for suppliers to push messages and offers out to customers. Customers are looking to solve problems and tackle opportunities. As a CMO, my job is to help our clients to solve these problems and help them tackle these opportunities, ideally with solutions that we can provide.
Deloitte’s big technology challenge is integrating our insights about our clients across channels. We want to understand when a client reads a piece of content, attends an event, participates in a webinar, subscribes to a podcast series, enrolls in and completes a massive open online course (MOOC), or responds to an email. The analytics associated with each channel have advanced significantly in the recent past so that we now understand more about channel-specific behaviors. My expectation for 2015 is that technology providers will offer solutions that help us understand the totality of behaviors and draw inferences about what we can do to be as targeted as possible in our outreaches to our clients based on these insights.
Understanding Modern Marketing
Having a team that understands modern marketing is critical.
But, there’s still a need for team members who understand marketing fundamentals, starting with branding.
When it comes to developing the marketing dream team, my three most important bullet points would be:
1. Recognize that today’s marketing technologies will quickly be superseded by newer and more advanced marketing technologies. Team members who understand today’s marketing technologies are invaluable, but make sure that they also have the capacity to master emerging technologies.
2. Look for individuals with an analytical mindset, who are relentless when it comes to understanding why some approaches work and others don’t. Encourage your team to adopt a “test and learn” approach and an iterative mindset.
3. Don’t neglect the importance of a thorough grounding in branding and positioning. Marketing innovation, analytical rigor, and insightful approaches to branding (based on deep customer insights) are table stakes when it comes to great marketing today. A team that’s missing any of these ingredients is unlikely to succeed in today’s complex and rapidly evolving world.