Marketing after the technology revolution?

This leader article appeared in the summer 2019 edition of Professional Marketing magazine A view on the future of the marketing profession – Technology and psychology skills needed.

The marketing profession is at an interesting crossroads. In one direction is technology nirvana – where systems automatically scrape and mine valuable information from within the firm and beyond and use artificial intelligence to tell humans when to make the optimum intervention. Market and client trends can be detected before we humans are aware. Opportunities will be identified and plans made through a few clicks on a screen. For sure, the larger firms that can invest in such technology will have a competitive advantage. But what will be the role of marketers in this brave new technologically-sophisticated world I wonder?

In the other direction are the people – our clients. I recently watched video clips from clients in large, global organisations making heartfelt pleas for better human interaction. To anticipate their needs, form teams with the right personalities, to be open about fees and to be brave enough to challenge their thinking. They urged their advisers to make the effort and take the time to travel for face-to-face communication. And for their advisors to devote their full attention to those personal interactions when they occur rather than worrying about the next appointment or stressing about what is popping up on their mobile phone. It is clear that marketers need to do so much more than capture and convert the leads.

Marketers will be data scientists and technologists. They will ensure that our fee-earners have the best data, information and insight to maximise their client relationships. But marketers will also be psychologists – knowing how to guide fee-earners to interact most effectively with clients on an interpersonal basis. To support connection at a human level so that the best relationships can be formed and nurtured.

The World Economic Forum Future of Work 2018 report had some important messages for those employed in marketing. It says “Expected to grow are roles that leverage distinctly “human” skills such as customer service workers, sales and marketing professionals, training and development, people and culture and organisational development specialists as well as innovation managers”.

And it advises “Amongst the trending skills in demand are: analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, creativity, technology design and programming, critical thinking and analysis, complex problem-solving, leadership and social influence, emotional intelligence, reasoning and systems analysis”. 

 The 2019 book “Advanced Marketing Management” by Dimitriadis, Dimitriadis and Ney argued marketers of the future needed to develop four skill sets: neuroscience, predictive analytics, innovation and adaptability. So that’s psychology and technology as well as commerciality.