Those are the words of Dennis Dunlap, CEO of the American Marketing Association, in his opening remarks at the AMA’s inaugural MPlanet conference in Orlando. He quickly added, “Clearly, there has never been a more challenging time.” Dunlap talked about the forces reshaping the marketing landscape, particularly consumer empowerment and new media. “Consumers are serving as the tipping point and the catalyst for mass customization and personalization,” he said, adding that because of these forces, “we’ve blown by the 4P’s,” and many traditional marketing concepts are no longer effective.
Dunlap laid out five “winning strategies” that marketers must follow to be successful:
1. Start a fire, then carry the torch. Marketers must champion growth and innovation, and drive innovation across their company. “Innovation is largely about understanding markets and customers,” Dunlap said, “so it’s logical for marketing to take the lead in driving it.”
2. Wear the customer’s shoes, and create a path for them. Being the customer expert is a great way for marketing leaders to gain credibility and enhance their value inside a company, Dunlap said. Marketers must influence every customer touch point to ensure a consistent customer experience.
3. Measure with precision and prove your mettle. “More than ever, CEOs want proof of marketing’s impact on an organization’s goals and financial performance,” Dunlap said. Marketing dashboards must reflect not only traditional marketing metrics like customer awareness, but also the financial impact of marketing programs.
4. Run a sprint, and a marathon. There’s an inescapable reality of companies focusing on quarterly financial performance. Marketers must strive to balance both short-term results with long-term innovation and investment. “Moving the needle quarter to quarter can open the door for longer-term investment,” he said.
5. Know who you are and create who you want to be. “In marketing, it seems that everything is changing externally, but not much is changing internally,” said Dunlap, emphasizing that today’s marketing organization is not equipped to deal with those external changes. Marketers must lead the charge to rebuild their organizations around the customer, and align the marketing function with key organizational counterparts such as IT and HR.