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The Marketing Divide: Are You the Past or Future?

Future of Marketing

The marketing profession increasingly has a split personality.

Recent, unprecedented advances in marketing technology have led to a fragmentation of CMOs and marketers into two groups. These groups are:


One group focuses on the past, often scrambling for the right numbers to justify past decisions. In my conversations with Fortune 500 CEOs and other leaders, these marketers are often called CYA: cover your ass. These marketers seek the right numbers to make past decisions look smart – and keep their jobs.


A second, newer breed of marketers is on the rise. That group is future focused, learns in the moment, and is singularly focused on using analytics to reveal the next best step. Future-focused marketers find real-time insights, and fully leverage analytics to build a roadmap for the future.

After all, marketing is a social science. With the factor of human unpredictability, marketers need to move fast to stay up with – and ahead of – the market. Indeed, 87% of marketers believe data is the most underutilized facet of the profession, according to a Teradata study.

Thus, there’s a growing willingness to pay top dollar to find these future-focused marketers.

C-Suite Allies

That’s because business is increasingly focused on having clear and actionable outcomes for making strategic decisions. CEOs and other C-suite executives want this, because they’re under constant pressure to gain or maintain a competitive advantage. Marketing can best reveal how.

This desire isn’t just limited to CEOs, but also CROs, CSOs, as well as finance and marketing. Marketers who can leverage the right technology – and reveal this crystal ball – are winning valuable allies throughout the C suite.

Gap Widening

The gap between past and future marketers is already widening. The first group has already mastered the relatively recent concept of enterprise marketing ROI. They’re able to discover and report on, with absolute certainty, marketing’s contribution to the enterprise bottom line, and what exact efforts contributed that money. Some 45% of marketers say measuring ROI is a key benefit of data-driven marketing, according the Teradata study.

Future-focused marketers have already moved on to the next phase: growth and revenue realization opportunities. These marketers have challenged technology companies like ours to dig deeper and build new models to discover new revenue and growth opportunities. These models look deeply across customers, markets, product mix channels and more.

Invest for Best ROI

Because every business has a finite amount of money to spend, it’s essential to invest dollars to get the best return. In my conversations with Fortune 500 and other marketing leaders, the number 1 challenge they face today is knowing with certainty where to invest their budget.

With more than 60 different channels today, and an infinite number of campaign variations, it’s increasingly challenging to make with certainty the most profitable marketing decisions.

So why are most marketers stuck in the past, and struggling to make the leap to future focus? Find out the reasons why – as well as essentials solutions – and – in part two of this post next week.

By Jeff Winsper

Jeff is the President of Black Ink and offers more than 20 years of leadership experience in marketing, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start ups.

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