Has Internet Killed the MBA Marketing Star?

12 Jan,2021


By Bhuvi Gupta


Bhuvi GuptaThe advent of the Internet has brought with it multiple changes, the biggest of which is access.

This access has brought monumental changes to both the manufacturing and services sectors but in terms of functions, the most impacted has been the marketing function. Over the last decade, the function has evolved and made experience a lot more valuable than business degrees, which have been a strict entry barrier previously.

Why has marketing been so affected?

Marketing is a cost function that doesn’t have a measurable output. The function is primarily responsible to oversee other departments and ensure that strategy is being implemented as planned; and if there are gaps in sales plug in the holes through effective communication campaigns. However, what is effective? Is it virality or product sales? And which function takes ownership of increased sales? After all it is a composite of sales, supply chain and marketing and measuring marketing effectiveness is still not quite science.  These were problems that have always existed, but have got highlighted with the advent of the Internet because the Internet brought with it access to people, businesses, information and platforms. All of which were at the premium of money and privilege which marketers had access to. While both still matter the premium has definitely decreased and both creation and distribution of communication is much easier.

Secondly, with the internet and social media, the marketing function has exploded in terms of work responsibilities. While this may seem to be counter-intuitive to this topic, it is not because this work explosion has been haphazard.  What is the job of a marketer today? Is it writing content for social media posts, or is it running ad campaigns, or is it making strategy? When is work to be outsourced to an agency and why?

Most Fortune 500 companies have divided the marketing and communications function into micro-functions – there are different functions for corporate communications, performance marketing, market research, brand management, digital marketing and off late influencer marketing too. The solution is two-fold  – a restructuring of marketing in companies and revised curricula in B-Schools and c- schools to build 360- degree competencies across all these functions.

Thirdly, with the internet, consumer behaviour has changed. Whether one wants to buy a car or a new brand of oats, the internet has facilitated reviews of all products at the click of a button. I confess I have been guilty of searching for reviews online (sometimes) before purchase even when I spot an interesting product at the grocery store, and I know I am not the only one. This online decision-making moment is called the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’  (ZMOT). This basically means that while marketing campaigns are important for building awareness and interest, in the information age a brand needs to engage with its users, be responsive to feedback to actually translate consumer intent into a purchase over and above being a good product.

Lastly, and this is a prediction, in the coming future, as algorithms become better at predicting and personalising our ads, we will gradually see the death of mass-market ads. This is already in practice digitally with Google Marketing Platform, but will become more and more ubiquitous as it transcends into smart TVs, and soon in smart radios et al. Print advertising, the flagbearer of mass market advertising, is on its last breath and its share of the content pie will reduce drastically in the coming decades, what will truly remain mass will be outdoor advertising and smart glasses may even personalise that! Hence, marketing communication will need to be customized as per audience to be truly effective in crowded markets.

Overall, because of the pace of change in marketing and communication, new facets are emerging and the importance of pre-existing facets has changed. MarCom teams and managers are unfortunately still catching up which is why the entire function is in flux.

I must end by issuing a standard disclaimer of this being my opinion but based not on conjecture but actual experience. But experiences differ and this may just stir a hornet’s nest of differing opinions. I would be very interested in hearing from other marketers whether they agree or disagree, the reasoning behind their opinions and how they are keeping up with the dynamic environment.

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