A quartet of Gartner analysts took the stage at the firm’s Digital Marketing Conference, in San Diego, to take on the topic “A Look to the Future, A Plan for Today.” Group vice president Yvonne Genovese, research VP Martin Kihn, and research directors Kirsten Newbold-Knipp and Augie Ray spoke to the 800 or so attendees Wednesday about how marketing success is part vision, part insight, and part execution.
Genovese began the exploration by suggesting that “everything is changing, but the basics are the same.” According to Gartner’s “CMO Spend Survey 2015-2016: Digital Marketing Comes of Age,” 98% of respondents no longer see a distinction between marketing and digital marketing. What this means in real terms is that executive expectations are increasing quickly and continuing innovation is a given.
Of course, Genovese said, this also means that marketing leaders with their own P&L are looking at increased accountability for driving growth. “These are big changes,” she said, “but marketers have always known the customer best—at the epicenter of growth.”
Genovese compared today’s marketer’s role to that of a hero’s journey: “You have to have a goal, assemble a team, fight the perils along the way, innovate, and eventually succeed.” In the end, she said, marketing and the company must have the same goals.
Kihn followed Genovese to talk about data-driven marketing. “Data is exploding exponentially,” he said, “and infinity is the end. There is no more ‘going from the gut.’ Going from the gut is going, going, gone.” Data is the foundation of all marketing today, he explained, and it’s important to start with the end goals in mind, create a map, assemble a team, and use data and analytics to show you the way.
“The customer journey is about a plan and characters,” said Ray, who was next up, “and the customer is the most important character.” Marketers, today, are responsible for the entire journey, which, in this age of the empowered customer, is both good news and bad news.
The final speaker, Newbold-Knipp, warned the assembled marketers that they have to “anticipate what’s coming or you will be left behind.” Marketers are well-positioned to drive innovation, she said. “Determine how your brand can take advantage of the best new technologies right now,” Newbold-Knipp added. “If you wait until they become mainstream—technologies such as augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things—it will be too late.”
Concluded Genovese: “The CMO of the future will lead the most strategic parts of the organization.”
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