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To meet the demands of today’s consumers, it’s no longer enough to keep up with marketing trends — you have to set the pace.

It’s up to the CEO to create steady, predictable financial growth. Management guidance is critical if you want to achieve this growth. So, your CMO carefully develops a marketing plan that follows management guidance, and hopefully both the top and bottom lines are fully met.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Yet, it’s much easier said than done in today’s marketplace.

Modern technology, from social media to mobile apps, has completely revolutionized how marketing works. The old commandments have been destroyed, but the new rules are still unclear. You might even say they are still being debated! What key challenges are shaping the new tenets of marketing?

Four Ways the Digital Landscape Has Changed Marketing

Although there are many ways that the digital landscape has changed marketing, let’s briefly consider four of the biggest new challenges:

Control Has Moved from Marketers to Consumers: It used to be that “push” marketing was where it was at:  TV and radio ads generated lots of interest, and out-of-home (OOH) marketing caught the attention of consumers on the go. Now, the trend has shifted to the “pull” of digital media, especially with the rise of mobile Internet. This technology is still relatively new, but it’s already a force to be reckoned with.

Business Is Now at Warp Speed: Given that the emphasis has shifted to mobile and social connectedness, the speed at which brands need to communicate with their consumers seems to increase every day.

Consumer Bases Demand More: Today’s consumers are educated and don’t hesitate to let their preferences be known. Brands need to constantly evolve their personality to meet what their customers expect:  being approachable, personable, and in tune with their audience.

Ok, so this all sounds pretty daunting, but these challenges can be overcome. And you do it by being a digital pacesetter.

What Is a Digital Pacesetter?

Digital pacesetters are willing to adopt new technology and stay ahead of trends.  If you’re looking for distinguishing characteristics of the breed, look at their organizations’ ability to leverage data and gather customer insights. For example, a survey by IBM showed that digital pacesetters had plans to significantly use newer technologies (advanced analytics, mobile apps, CRMs, etc.) within the next three years. As a result, they tend to financially outperform less tech-savvy CMOs.

So, then, the next logical question is What do I need to do to be a digital pacesetter?

How to Be a Digital Pacesetter

Not surprisingly, investments in data analytics and mobile apps lead the list of good CMO habits.  A digital pacesetter will:

Invest in Today’s Hottest Media: With changes in the marketing landscape, CMOs must make a corresponding strategic shift towards trending channels. They need to own, or at least manage, the customer conversation and the overall brand experience.

Engage with the New Breed of Customer: Good CMOs figure out how to listen to and actively engage with consumers. Once again, this requires the use of cutting-edge technology and a willingness to learn new tricks of the trade.

Embrace Real-Time and Always-On Brand Management: Digital pacesetters understand the importance of managing their brands 24-7. Both positive and negative messages can go viral almost instantly; how a CMO manages their own brand messages and how they respond to market changes has a direct and immediate impact on their success.

Favor Data over Gut Feel: Rather than solely relying on their intuition, high-performing CMOs use advanced analytical tools and techniques. This allows them to effectively analyze market developments, to simulate more possibilities, and make more robust predictions. Eventually, this helps them make better, more confident decisions.

It’s a changing world for marketers, but it’s not an unconquerable one.  By working with technology trends, CMOs who are also digital pacesetters can find themselves leading the pack.

Authored by – Imran Saeed – Director, Analytics at Absolutdata