What big marketing trends of 2019 have come to fruition? Are chatbots taking over the internet? It sure seems like it. Who owns digital transformation? Survey says…IT. What is a marketer’s main objective these days? Lead generation. Is AI a reality? For some it is. Can sales and marketing play well together? Signs point to yes.

As the third quarter draws to a close, we have learned a few key things to help prepare us for 2020. If you sell a technology product or service to marketing professionals, here are five takeaways from the current marketing landscape to consider:

  1. Digital is (still) hard
  2. Marketers are unicorns
  3. We neglect strategy
  4. The race to implement technology is a marathon, not a sprint
  5. Purchase decisions are made (and unmade) by committee

Digital is still hard.

Technology promises to make our lives and jobs easier, but implementing digital practices remains  extremely challenging in real life. Part of the reason is the continued shortage of talent and skills. But,  additionally, it is because those who lead digital marketing efforts are not always set up by their organizations to be successful. According to the experts, there are over 160 marketing organizational models and counting! Depending on how digitally sophisticated companies are, CMOs are experimenting – or struggling – with the right way to structure, staff and even define their functions. It’s no surprise that marketers at all levels are experiencing record burnout.

Marketers are unicorns.

This is an extension of the first takeaway. Marketing leaders are expected to be both left- and right-brained thinkers; part technologist, part strategist; and part data scientist and part super project manager. Today’s marketing job descriptions can be quite daunting with impossible agendas, which may be why a growing number of practitioners are going the consulting route. We are seeing a move by organizations to recruit more niche or specialized skills versus trying to find someone that knows a little about everything. Organizations are finding they need their people to know a lot about one or two areas. Then they decide what makes sense – to hire in-house or outsource certain functions?

We neglect strategy.

Copyright: Tom Fishburne, Marketoonist.com

One of the biggest marketing pain points we hear is that there isn’t enough time to be both strategic and execute at the highest level. Rather, the day-to-day demands often force marketers to be tactical and reactive rather than proactive. This is particularly true for the content function. The content strategists that we talk to spend an inordinate amount of time educating their peers and leadership on why content can’t just be ‘good enough’ and is in fact, mission critical. An ongoing challenge for them remains measuring the impact of content to the business. Technology that can help them ‘connect the dots’ on performance across all channels is on their radar.

The race to implement technology is a marathon, not a sprint.

Efforts to re-platform and perfect the MarTech stack is a long-term (in)decision. It is true that AI is being used effectively by some industries. However, most are still dealing with the realities of legacy technology making the decision to invest in new platforms longer and more difficult. 

Purchase decisions are made (and unmade) by committee.

Going hand in hand with takeaway #4 is the realization that the buying center has become a formalized steering committee and has grown in size. Members of these groups are made up of different generations and different roles with varied agendas, preferences and even dueling KPIs. Teams often learn the hard way that gaining consensus is difficult and costly. Deals can be killed by shadow stakeholders late in the process after much time and resources have been expended

If you are preparing to engage with marketing as a target audience in 2020 – keep these learnings top-of-mind. The marketing function will continue to evolve, and new decision-makers and influencers will emerge, such as the Digital Marketing Operations Manager or the Content Director. Provide content that will resonate with each of them by supporting their strategic role and helping them navigate the myriad technology options.    

What are some other changes shaping the evolution of marketing that you see as being impactful or game changing heading into 2020?

Jennifer Voisard
Jennifer Voisard

Senior Consultant

Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.

Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.

She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.