Let’s say you’ve been time shuttled to 2020, no, let’s bring it even closer – 2015… You’re scanning for inspiring marketing jobs. To your dismay, your social media, strategy and content marketing skills are outdated. New kids on the block with mobile analytics skills, predictive modeling and crowdsourcing specialties raid the job space, leaving you with one of those; “now wait a minute” moments.
So…what happened? Is marketing dead, as Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts recently declared? (http://www.thedrum.co.uk/news/2012/04/25/marketing-dead-says-saatchi-saatchi-ceo)
Maybe, Mr. Roberts, mass media is dying, maybe social media is erratic, maybe mobile marketing is still in its first-frontier stage, but marketing, if anything, is capturing a bigger role.
Nonetheless, the fusion of marketing and technology, the rise of real time marketing, mobile marketing and analytics are changing the rules. As a result crowdsourcing specialists, marketing integrators and market data analysts could be incorporated into future job titles.
Still, the fundamental core of marketing has not changed. Value is and will always be about what the buyer is willing to give up in return for something.
Traditionally marketers rolled out the old prediction and analysis planning models and go-to-market execution items to capitalize on value. But in times of volatility, where change is the biggest certainty, these methods are running into extinction.
Today online analytics, content marketing and crowd sourcing are supposed to capitalize on consumers who use search engines and social media in real time to solve their problems and to find desired products and services on their terms.
Mobile marketing techniques such as mobile apps and real time hyper-location are trying to encourage deeper consumer engagement with brands to increase lead generation and conversion.
But here lies the biggest paradox; in an age of ongoing transformation, how can we manage what the customer wants instantly, and simultaneously act wisely in real time? What happens when you only have split seconds to make decisions? Is it really all up to engagement, crowd sourcing and a good set of analytics tools alone?
After all, the sum total of all wisdom and surefire success is not necessarily found in the first three responses in google… and trends analysis is not only about gleaning data from tweet decks.
So, what can help us make better decisions on the spot when push comes to shove. What will help us ride through the storms?
Enter the futurist marketing tool box….
During recent workshops I recently found a warming response in particular to marketing scenario planning and back casting techniques. It seems these futurist tools (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futures_techniques) are becoming increasingly relevant today in corporate IT organizations.
Scenario planning is a way of understanding change agents, such as technological developments and buyer behavior patterns, and their impact on an organization’s future.
The Royal Dutch Shell was a corporate pioneer of this approach during the oil crisis. Shell created one simple scenario: What if oil prices dropped dramatically? Shell thought the unthinkable. Then in 1986 when oil prices were cut in half, the company prospered while other companies were struggling.
But marketing scenario planning alone has its limitations – mostly because of the fear of the unthinkable. Back casting can be an innovative navigation tool for forming successful marketing strategies, fine tuning the user experience and predicting buying patterns and then outlining the actions needed to achieve them.
But like many tools such as; environmental scanning, the Delphi method, scenario planning, back casting and more… they are only as good as the person using it. Poor results are not necessarily the fault of the tool but more the user of the tool.
Still, in future, the more technology shapes marketing and the more volatile the markets, the demand for real time reactions will grow. It’s time to invest in a futurist skills set to plan better in times of growing uncertainty and to engage more intelligently in real time.