When you think about digital transformation, your mind immediately leaps to the enabling technologies. We think about all of the amazing new tools that enable us to work from wherever we want, whenever we want. We think about massive amounts of data and the amazing insights we can garner from now available, but we rarely think about the human side of transformation.
An even greater challenge than transforming HOW we do our jobs is rethinking WHAT we do. Digital transformation has changed the essence of the services we provide. Companies that were traditionally services providers now find themselves in the software business. Companies that once manufactured electrical outlets now find themselves in the home automation business. Companies that once provided traditional media services find themselves providing on demand media.
The digital revolution has also changed how departments must think about themselves. Perhaps no department has been as impacted as much by digital transformation as marketing. Our scope of influence within the company has grown exponentially due to the rise of digital marketing solutions. Not long ago, marketing was just in the business of traditional marketing efforts like creating brand awareness and lead generation. If you take a step back to consider all of the ways marketing now interacts with customers, you can see how the digital transformation has forever changed what it means to be a marketer.
Think about the social tools that we use every day to promote our services like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Those same channels have become a way for customers to interact with the company. How many times have you seen customer complaints on your Twitter channel? Or responded to a “thank you for great service” on Facebook? New social tools allow us to listen to customer conversations about our companies or industries and engage with them immediately. These types of interactions were once owned solely by a customer service team, but now frequently fall into the marketer’s realm. .
As little as ten years ago, Marketing rarely interacted with sales. At best, the two teams were indifferent with each other. More often, the two teams actively disapproved of each other. Marketing only supported sales with data sheets and solutions sheets, and the sales team was solely responsible for owning the pipeline and driving pipeline velocity. Today, marketing has a dramatic impact on the sales funnel. Customers are now more than 60% through the purchase process before ever engaging a seller. That means that more than 50% of the sales cycle is driven through the marketing team, through the information marketers make available through websites, videos, blogs and articles. The best sales and marketing teams now work jointly to do account based marketing to efficiently drive sales velocity in high-value accounts. This is a huge mental shift from the animosity that existed between sales and marketing just a few short years ago. Marketers are now part of the sales team.
The rise of digital technology has fundamentally changed what is possible in marketing. It has completely changed the marketing mix and the tactics we employ to reach our customers. Talk to any marketer today and they will focus on digital everything, advertising, emails, display ads, ABM. Direct mail and printed brochures have become a thing of the past. Just a decade ago, my marketing stack consisted solely of Adobe software to create brochures and ads. Web development was done by technical people from IT. Fast forward a few years, and there are over 3,000 digital marketing tools available! It has become nearly impossible to keep up with the pace of change from digital technology. Where we must start is not with the technology, but rethinking our role within the company. It is only after we fully understand WHAT we do, that we should select from the multitude of technologies for the HOW we accomplish our goals.