The beauty of marketing is that it brings together your creative and analytical skills. For young talent the field is more interesting than ever because of all the challenges that lie ahead. 'Marketers need to grow out of just being marketers to being people who understand the business of a company,' says Raja Rajamannar, CMO at Mastercard and president of the World Federation of Advertisers WFA.
He mentions it just as a nice example of how technological developments are changing the marketing world. "It was a collaboration of Samsung and Mastercard. We launched a connected refrigerator with a screen that shows all the items that are inside. If a product gets below a particular minimum it will automatically go to FreshDirect and reorder it for you. This is the beginning of a tsunami that is coming at us: devices are going to order things themselves," says Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer of Mastercard and author of the bestselling book Quantum Marketing.
What does it mean for marketing when more and more appliances are becoming connected? On the internet a search engine offers choices, but a smart device can make its own decision which brand to buy. "With one click everything happens. You are taking the whole process of search and discovery straight to the purchase," he explains in a talk at the Center for Customer Insights at Yale School of Management. "Every connected device is a device for commerce. And if every connected device is a device for commerce, it is going to be a device for marketing. Do we have the ecosystem to tackle that? It is pretty fascinating."
'Quantum marketing' is the title of his book that provides insights into the challenges and solutions marketers can work on. "So many technologies are about to disrupt marketing in an unprecedented way. I started putting together what kind of scenarios could be there. What is the likely impact of technologies like artificial intelligence or blockchain?" His book title refers to the world of physics. "When classical physics failed, quantum physics came in. That was the inspiration for me to say when traditional marketing is going to fail, quantum marketing is the way to go," he recounts in a video interview with Roger Dooley.
Today companies are getting more easily access to what they need. "Now everything is in the cloud. There are services that are available on a pay-as-you-go basis, starting from artificial intelligence all the way to augmented reality, and every other thing like blockchain. These technologies are getting democratized and even small companies can get access to them. You don't have to be a giant to be able to play with this."
Marketing as a growth driver
Around ten years back he started noticing a pattern that emerged where marketing was left behind. "CEOs started losing confidence and CMO roles are getting eliminated. In several surveys more than 70% of the CEOs said they have no confidence in their marketing teams to be able to drive growth for the business, because they feel their marketing people don't understand the business well enough. This is a polite way of saying that marketers are living disconnected from the day-to-day business realities, much less so probably with the performance marketers and much more with the brand marketers."
As president of the WFA and board member of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) Rajamannar used the opportunities to interact with peers across different companies. "One of the things that we did at ANA was form the CMO Growth Council to bring back growth onto the agenda of marketers. CEOs are often not looking at marketers or marketing as a growth driver of the company. So, with the initiative we are bringing more relevance back to marketing in the context of business."
Changes in consumer habits
He spent more than 36 years in marketing and experienced how the profession was evolving. "I went through various phases and each era of marketing was being kick-started by two technologies." One phase was the emergence of the internet and data-analytics. A subsequent phase came about by the digital and social platforms taking root. "Connected digital mobile devices and social media changed marketing completely."
Today the challenges are different. "The preceding phases were each powered by two technologies. Now we are at the verge of having two dozen technologies: artificial intelligence, virtual reality wearables, autonomous cars, 3D printing, drones, the list goes on. We are already seeing changes in consumer habits and organizational habits." Marketing teams need to be able to react and to play with this. "Many marketers are not necessarily deeply tech savvy and in my book I try to demystify and simplify those areas."
In his presentations he likes to make powerful statements. "It is almost that marketing is dead. We have to totally and completely re-imagine and reinvent marketing," he stated during a talk for the World Federation of Advertisers. Then there is the positive side. You can change, be aware of the technological developments and embrace the new opportunities that are there. "There are three areas that are going to define the new paradigm. One is technology, the second is the data deluge and the third one is cultural shifts. (…) We feel that we have too much data. Consumers are concerned about their data privacy and regulators are stepping in to protect data." Cultural shifts refer to, for instance, purpose and inclusion. "We have seen already some fantastic initiatives."
One of his proposed solutions is multisensory marketing. "Normally people are blessed with five senses - sight, sound, taste, touch and smell, but as marketers we mostly rely on the sense of sight and the sense of sound. You have to optimize each of the five senses to persuade consumers to make choices in favor of your brand." He shares some examples. Mastercard created a couple of experiences with smell, using fragrance developers. It also worked on the sense of touch. To help blind people the company developed a touch card with a different notch. "We started wondering how do blind people use their cards. How do they know it is a debit card or credit card? So, we started looking at this problem to create a better experience." A commercial shows how blind people use their new card.
Even with all the developments marketing remains a magnificent field that brings together creative and analytical skills. "Probably the only field where your right brain and left brain are equally leveraged. Not so many functions will give you that fulfillment. We shape an influencer culture and if that is done in a purposeful fashion you are actually shaping the society. I don't think there is any other function which will give you that kind of a platform to shape the world."