Marketing is an outdated practice, period.
Marketing was as astonished when we heard this statement from Adobe's think tank with experts in marketing, technology, and trend forecasting; but hold on here, it would be a mistake to think that marketing will go away.
In fact, to discard the term does not mean marketing has lost its business value. Rather, the meaning and sound of it has led marketers to think in a certain way as we step onto the cusp of one of the greatest, and most disruptive technology waves in history, the experience business wave.
As customers become more demanding on what they want, old mindsets no longer fit in the new era.
"It is about time to put forward and reformat marketing, propelling marketers' roles alongside," said Ethan Imboden, vise president, head of venture design at design and strategy firm Frog.
For instance, you should now value the efficiency of the marketing strategies by asking the question, "Is the marketing strategy filling a gap in the customer journey?" instead of, "Is my product performing?"
Ask, 'Is the marketing strategy filling a gap in the customer journey?' instead of, 'Is my product performing?'
Drawing United Airlines as an example, Jordan Kretchmer, GM for Adobe LiveFyre & Adobe Social, said the flag carrier breathed life into the once-ailing brand by looking into the poor on-time record and lagging customer service performance, and fixing the fundamentals of the airline a few years ago.
The company identified key signature touch-points as being the premium lobby and boarding process for frequent flyers, and improved seats for first class and business class international passengers. To support these changes, new internal training was developed for customer-facing employees.
"Marketing drills down to knowing what the customers need, and respond to them. This is why we should redefine what business is - it is no longer a product-generating business," said Nandini Nayak, managing director, design strategy at Fjord (Accenture).
"The customer doesn't want to buy a product from you, they want an engaging experience from the brand; The sum of the experience is the product."
"It's time to over-index on empathy in design and delivery."
The new marketing means improving the things that you are not doing well. Companies should scale empathy and responsibility in a business, understand it, and leverage it. The roles of marketers are no longer just about branding or selling a product, but digging deep into the core elements of the business and building valuable experience from it.
Theresa Lamontagne, head of digital marketing & media operations, Verizon, added that building an emotional relationship with customers does not mean every brand should become customers' best friend. "It might just mean to be authentic. Not everyone wants to be friends with a hairstylist, some of them only want the services."
Another important note to take is to take control of the disruptive technology waves, and place the limelight back on customer experience.
"We need to put technology aside for a moment, and always start with what the customers want," advised Jay Schneider, SVP digital at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. "No customer wants to manage the technologies themselves. Use the shiny subject as a background."
Building an emotional relationship with the customers does not mean every brand should become customers' best friend.
One idea to step into experience business, is to list more information about its billings.Don't just tell how much you are charging, put yourself into participating in their daily lives, and explain the cost.
Another idea was for airline companies is to cooperate with companies such as Uber in the US, which would mean customer journeys can be extended to ensure passengers arrive at their final destination.
"Every experience point is a marketing effort. Taken in that context, everyone in the company becomes a marketer," said Daniel Newman, Forbes contributor and CEO at Broadsuite.
Every experience point is now a marketing effort. Taken in that context, everyone in the company becomes a marketer.
"In mapping an experience business, all teams need to speak the same language - the language of design. You need to design how you interact with the customers. The word no longer confines to purely material or surface interfaces," said Steven Cook, former chief marketing officer at Samsung NA. "The transformation would be a top-down process. Leaders should step up to fill in communication gaps between the department silos, and initiate the new mindset."
The new numbers
While an experience business focuses more on the quality than quantity of the business returns, marketers might as well strive for a new set of measurements for the new era.
"As marketers sometimes we get lost in the metrics,"Fjord's Nayak explained. "The way we look at a campaign is to usually study its results and response, but ROI does not always reflect if the campaign has empathy."
"You can get the same number of thumbs up for two separate campaigns on social media, with different sets of feelings and levels of customer engagement," added Frog's Imboden.
From a dry cleaner company's standpoint, it may rather have you recommend its services to two people than to have a thousand fans on Facebook.
Rana June, chief executive officer at Lightwave, suggested brands start finding emotion and physical measurements to help marketers know which way to go.
"There are no universal KPIs or measurements on these quantitative aspects because different business and industries have different priorities in creating experiences. Plus, no one says 'I am loyal to this brand'; they say 'I love that', 'so much fun' or other emotional expressions," she explained.
"As we move forward, there will be new ways to track the signals that indicate experience as a success."
Adobe paid for the journalist’s trip to Adobe Summit 2017, held in Las Vegas.