Marketing Disruption: Five Blind Spots On The Road to Marketing’s Potential

Executive Summary

hero-marketing-disruption“Disruption” has become a blanket term to encapsulate the massive changes affecting businesses. But the term’s overuse and broadness have obscured what really matters to marketing. Often missing in the debate is a clear-eyed look at the causes of disruption to help marketers make better decisions regarding what to do about them.

The quest to provide more clarity into disruptions was the catalyst for a new ANA (Association of National Advertisers) survey—with analysis by McKinsey & Company– “Marketing’s Moment: Leading the Disruption” of 374 client-side marketers.1 What came through loud and clear is that marketing leaders are deeply concerned with the “three C’s of disruption”: content (cited by 81% of respondents as a disruption), complexity (80%), and connected and empowered consumers (74%). Underlying those concerns is the pace of technology (77%).

The underlying issue is that most marketers continue to labor within frameworks that inhibit true transformation. In our experience, systems, processes, budgets, and metrics are still designed largely around mass campaigns and promotions, the decidedly old-school methods of broadcasting to customers. More broadly, the functions outside marketing’s control, from finance to the contact center, are similarly locked into models built to manage and measure products and services, not to align with current customer dynamics. As a result, marketers’ aspirations far outstrip their operations.

While the path is clear to many marketers, barriers remain. The survey uncovered five blind spots that threaten to derail marketing’s transformation.

1. A fractured customer experience
Continuously evolving customer expectations are a major disruptive force, but marketing is still limited in its ability to shape the entire experience. Marketers are most active in collecting insights that provide competitive advantage (86%) and helping to shape business strategy (82%). But their role continues to lag in critical areas: CRM and loyalty (66%), customer support (66%), and managing the entire customer decision journey (67%). This lack of responsibility—and accountability—for the entire customer journey will continue to inhibit marketers’ efforts to develop seamless and consistent experiences across all touchpoints. Even within marketing, silos inhibit coordination, resulting in less-than-ideal customer experiences.

2. Content primacy without strategy and operations
Brands are confronting a seemingly insatiable demand for fresh “content”—everything a customer sees when interacting with a brand across every channel.

What’s astonishing, however, is that 84% of marketers do not have a formal content strategy or underlying production and distribution processes. While marketers have been increasing investment in content creation and distribution, the lack of true “content supply-chain management”—involving the agencies, production houses, functions, and media companies that create and distribute a brand’s content across all channels—will undermine efforts to positively shape the customer experience.

3. Disconnects between leadership and the front lines
Despite the rapidly changing landscape, 43% of marketing leaders believe they are not empowered or encouraged to experiment and innovate. Even worse is the significant disconnect between senior management and the front lines: While 70% of CMOs say they employ agile marketing processes to analyze and iterate marketing plans and tactics as frequently as needed, just 45% of marketing VPs and directors and 50% of managers agree.

4. Hiring talent – but not managing it
Bringing on new talent is one of the most important strategies for dealing with disruptions (91%), essentially as important as investing in new technology.

But are companies doing enough to nurture and accommodate dramatically changing skill sets, not just within marketing but across the entire organization? Just 61% said executive education programs were important for responding to disruptions, well behind those who cited investments in new technology (94%), new marketing models (93%), and several other priorities.2 And only 35% are investing in new models for employee/worker management. Nearly half (48%), however, plan to invest in new management models over the next three years, an encouraging sign.

5. Decisions without data
There’s a gap between those who acknowledge the disruptions caused by the complexity and fragmentation of marketing (80%) and those who are increasing investment in response to this disruption (67%). However, about a quarter of companies are not using data to make decisions, and almost half say they still don’t have the right analytics in place to measure the effectiveness of marketing investments. These companies risk falling behind as their more data-driven competitors improve the pace and quality of decision-making.

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