I was one of a few hundred marketing people who turned up to hear Professor Mark Ritson’s talk on the future of marketing this morning.
Most of us are familiar with Ritson’s challenging takes on marketing and a personal brand built on this. He’s not your usual academic – today he focused on ‘5 ways we’re fucked’ in marketing.
The heart of his argument was that marketing is dragged down by a magpie syndrome, chasing the shiniest and newest toys while forgetting the fundamentals – 3D printing, VR, Bitcoin and Blockchain as classic examples.
His bigger theme was that we are forgetting the foundations of marketing and focusing on communications, and mainly the tactical end of communications. An obsession with digital is guilty for a lot of this, although probably just accelerating a trend already there, going straight to ideas and executions without actually defining the marketing issues and developing a strategy to then execute against.
As part of this he gave the audience a few meaty challenges to chew over:
- Forget ‘Techno Porn’, start strategically planning for 2019 now.
- Stop proclaiming the death of everything and anything that isn’t new and shiny.
- Think integrated over digital to drive effectiveness.
- Realise that our negativity over so-called 'traditional media' is massively holding us back.
- Realise that most of this media is actually digital.
- Realise that having 'digital' in your job title will eventually hold you back.
- Get properly trained in marketing, and stop listening to marketing gurus with none.
- Stop obsessing about brand purpose, most BPs are completely vanilla.
- Stop confusing marketing with communications.
- Have real strategies, not wish lists of things we'd like to do.
For a challenging talk it was surprising that the answer to most of the simplistic choices (e.g. traditional versus digital, purpose versus penetration) was middle-of-the road, but it was a good challenge when marketing is so obsessed with polar opposites and supposedly binary choices.
One to mull over and come back to, definitely. There is definitely a lot of truth in what he said, if you only based that on the murmurs and nods of recognition in the audience.