Marketers, Welcome to 2008!


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I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season! My 2008 is off and running at a fast clip and, once again, the blog had to wait while I dealt with matters related to my pocketbook. But, here I am and I simply couldn’t resist the urge for my first post of 2008 to be my own set of [perhaps wishful thinking] predictions for marketing in 2008. I mean, what kind of marketing blogger would I be if I didn’t throw my two cents into the discussion?…

Before the holidays, I shared some thoughts with Barney Beal over at TechTarget. He’s just released a podcast of our discussion. So, if you want to hear my voice (including a bunch of “ums”, “you knows”, and even a few giggles), please check it out. I’m also joined by my friend and former colleague, John Ragsdale, as well as Rob Bois from AMR. My lesson learned: don’t attempt to record a podcast on your mobile device while on the go!

So, here’s my outlook on marketing in 2008:

  • No sea change events will rock the marketing world in 2008. What kind of prediction is this!?! I don’t think I’m copping out here… I recently looked back at my predictions for 2005. Short of adding more focus to social computing and Web 2.0, I could republish that document now and call it a day (of course I’m biased, but I think it’s good stuff). My point is: marketers (and industry pundits) need to avoid the urge (and thrill) to seek out the next trend to turn into hype. While it’s certainly important to keep an eye on what’s on the horizon, don’t jump into the next new thing without a clear business hypothesis regarding its potential value. And, by all means, measure against your hypothesis.
  • The Web 2.0 hype will moderate and we’ll get down to business. I’m bullish that we’re past the days when all marketers seemed convinced that they needed start a blog or spend money in Second Life. While these tactics (yes, they are tactics – i.e., not strategy) make sense for some firms, for most they don’t. There’s no doubt that social computing behavior is having a tremendous impact on the way business gets done but it’s no excuse for taking the cart (tactics) before the horse (strategy).
    Ok, so what is important here? Ever since I joined the industry (late 80’s), I’ve heard statements like “customer is king” and “listen to your customers.” But in those days, marketers had the bullhorn. Today, social technologies give customers a platform and a bullhorn of their own. Companies that aren’t listening run the risk of being caught unprepared (and that costs money). There’s no question that there is tremendous potential to leverage social communities, but we’re still in the early days. In 2008, we’ll start sort it out. For many companies this means sitting on the sidelines and keeping an eye on the developments. For early adopters, be clear about the objectives behind what you are doing and establish how you will measure against those objectives.
  • Marketing organizations will get a social conscience. In line with my previous comments, firms need to recognize that today’s consumers are really good at sniffing out and publicizing inconsistencies between what corporations and their brands say and how they act. In 2008 companies must take this bull by the horns – or risk getting trampled. Specifically, I mean walk the talk and align your brands and your behavior in the marketplace with what you say. Whether you are a cataloger of outdoor living that happens to send up to 40 catalogs a year to some customers on your file, a consumer goods brand that purports to promote inner beauty and self-confidence among young women while marketing other brands that paint women as objects, or a financial services firm that invests in companies with business interests in areas rife with genocide – you need to get on top of this.

  • Significant emergence of on demand marketing technology. Tired of dealing with internal technology groups? Well, some good news for marketers on the technology front. The on-demand marketing technology sector is heating up and more viable (yet still not comprehensive) software-as-a-service options are emerging to help marketers plan and organize their activities more effectively, design and launch multichannel campaigns, and measure results. For more insight on this one, see The “On Demand Marketing Suite” Is Becoming A Reality.

  • More focus on behavioral targeting. “Behavioral targeting” is definitely a term that is generating an increasing amount of interest in the online marketing sectors. But, I also find that the term means different things depending on who you are talking to. I take a broad view. Specifically, I define behavioral targeting as:

    Leveraging aggregated and individual behavior data to deliver targeted and customized content to an individual — through online ad networks, on site messaging, as well as other online and offline direct communication channels.

    If companies would only define it this way, they’d recognize that they may very well have behavioral analysis experts sitting in one part of their company while individuals in another group are struggling to figure out the basics and complaining that they don’t have the right skills or tools. I’ll focus more on this one in future posts, but I want to say here and now that it is high time to get those cool spec wearing web data gurus together with the database marketing quant jocks.

  • Companies will start to sort out the role of the CMO. OK, I couldn’t resist. I know that this is one that tends to turn up every year and maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part but, we’ve all seen the stats about the CMO revolving door and I think it’s time for marketing to step up and take ownership. As I said in my recent post about the role of the CMO, I fervently believe that the role of the CMO is to “define and lead a customer-focused marketing strategy that crosses product, channel, geographic, and even functional boundaries.” If marketing fails to transform itself into this role, I believe that the CMO title will eventually die out and marketing will succumb to a future as a tactical, services-oriented role within the enterprise. As a related aside, I was heartened today to see the news that David Norton who has accomplished so much great stuff heading up relationship marketing at Harrah’s Entertainment has been promoted into the CMO role. We need more CEOs that think along the lines of Harrah’s CEO, Gary Loveman:

“In today’s complex multi-channel marketplace, we must continue to strengthen customer relationships and deliver high-quality brand experiences across our entire portfolio.”

Elana Anderson
Unica Corp.
Elana Anderson is vice president of product marketing and strategy at Unica Corp.. A highly regarded marketing software expert, Anderson previously served as vice president and research director of the marketing practice at Forrester Research. Prior to Forrester, Anderson was a strategy consultant and systems integrator for nearly 15 years.


  1. Elana

    Very thought provoking.

    With my Interim hat on, and as someone who spent the past year running CRM at an automotive bank, I tend to agree with you. There will be no big changes this year. But that doesn’t mean thath there are not going to be any changes of focus.

    Three such changes I already see happening are increased focus on measuring the results of marketing, an increased focus on cross-organisational collaboration and an increased focus on the customer after the sale. The sad thing is, these shouldn’t be things that marketing should have to focus on. They should be daily business. But too much of marketing is still budget-driven rather than results-driven. Too many Marketing departments are still flashy islands doing their own thing rather than an integral part of the larger organisation. And too many marketers forget that the easiest person to market to is a happy customer.

    Perhaps we should be giving our clients copies of Ted Levitt’s seminal work on Marketing Myopia as this year’s ‘must-read’ book. Perhaps it is time to get back to some marketing basics.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

    Gunning Fog Index: 10

  2. ..most just don’t realize it.

    On a sociological level, mankind has gone through different ages – stone age, agricultural age, industrial age, communication age, and now we are in the relatively early stages of the information age.

    For most of us, our business training had most of its underpinnings in industrial age thinking – the elasticity of demand, efficient production techniques, etc. and our selling / marketing comes from the communication age – mass communications, encode-transmit-decode, etc

    However, in the information age, a lot of the principles we learned just don’t apply. Think for a minute how weird business is becoming in the information age….
    [*] TV Guide provides information about what to watch on networks, but it’s more valuable than the networks.
    [*] People are actually making money (real and virtual) buying and selling fictitious property online
    [*] Google doesn’t really make anything – helping us all find information we are looking for and its worth $196 Billion dollars. That’s $100 Billion more that the combined market caps of General Motors ($13B), Ford ($12.4B), and McDonalds ($62.7B) !!!!!

    Investments in tactics (as you rightly point out) such as blogs, podcasts, virtual worlds, social networking, etc. are natural by products as marketers look to find best practices for how to take marketing into the information age.

    I think you are right, we won’t see much change. What we’ll see is trial and error “R&D” as companies find which of these tactics work for them. From a B2B side, I see a continued shift away from classical, product-based marketing and more and more resources getting pumped into supporting the sales force and account-based marketing efforts.

    Great article – I thought we’d get more commentary on this, I’d love to hear what others see out there.

  3. Graham

    It is necessary not to forget about the basics, but people always like to re-invent the wheel, and start making things complicated.

    So, what are the basics?

    Achieving simplicity is tough…

    Daryl Choy, the founder of Touchpoint eXperience Management, helps firms make a difference at every touchpoint. Choy can be reached at


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