Dear CMO:

If you’re tired of the conversation that starts, “… I wonder what the Future of Marketing will look like,” or maybe, “… what do YOU think marketing’s role is in the modern corporation…” you’d be forgiven. I’d understand completely. I’m sick of it, too. We talked about this back in the day when we described the Marketing Mea Culpa and a few others, now that I think about it.

All that being said, let’s talk about the future of marketers. That’s a more personal approach to this whole eye-rolling subject. Here’s a thought, so hear me out — and tell me if you like this or not:

The more time I spend consulting with friends still in the big corporate world, the more I wonder what the practical future of marketing is; we all know what we think when we’re dreaming, but when we snap out of it, where do we think it really goes?

I’m starting to answer this question by describing the difference between “creativity” and “creation.” Marketers are, in their best embodiments, “creative” – which means we create something out of nothing, or at least transform it into something that most of our audience didn’t see before.

Marketers also have taken considerable heat for their actions not being correlated closely enough to results – the ROI discussion, which I thought was always part of the discussion, but apparently not. There is a lack of clarity as to ‘what marketing owns’ and ‘what marketing does’ – I know, we all say we understand it, but frankly, our actions belie our words. Depending on your company, one may think your job is to get them on Moneyline, another may firmly believe you’re there to reduce your budget by 20% and the third is sure your role is to make power point slides and possibly to pick up his dry cleaning, too.

The answer is a happy one for marketers who are tired of trying to grab ahold of this moving target of ownership. Marketers need to become ‘creators.’ This means they must develop within their departments and within their own selves some final unique deliverable, which they engineer, finance, sell, promote and ultimately own from cradle to grave. They must become entities within their own entity, microcosms in their own companies that mirror the whole in some small way.

What does this mean, exactly? They — we — must become writers, publishers, thought leaders, product creators, segment creators, promotion creators, program owners and other cradle to grave owners of content. It’s not enough to launch a certification program: you need to create a brand out of it. A logo, an ad campaign, a PR campaign, events, promotions, influencer outreach, thought leadership, etc. We must develop promotional calendars more important than the products they promote. We must launch campaigns that are holistic, multi-faceted, and integrated to the point that they stand on their own legs and don’t lean on the products or services they support. We must create our own living, breathing entities that have their own lifecycles, fans, and supporters.

When we create our own product lines — not to mention when we actually do create products themselves — we transcend the typical ‘soft’ definitions of marketing value-adds.


Photo courtesy of Flickr