Evolution of Marketing

Where is marketing going? What is its evolutionary path? We asked Alexis Oger, Vice President EMEA Marketing at the tech giant, Dell Technologies

Alexis Oger leads a team of over 300 talented marketers driving the digital acceleration at Dell Technologies. He believes that marketing is no longer just about brand engagement – it’s about building an identity that engages both the customers and the employees a business depends on. 

In a recent interview, Alexis said: “Over the course of my career, marketing has always had one reason to exist – and that is to bring the customer inside the business. That has not changed – but what has changed is the technology we have available to understand our customers and the acceleration in the pace of change.” 

This article is edited highlights from Alexis’ keynote presentation at our CMO Digital Summit.   

It is critical that marketers understand the pace of change 

There are three things that marketers must understand: how the pace of change is accelerating across people, technology, and society, and what this means for your brand. 

If you think about people, between my father and myself, there is one generation of roughly 30 years (when I talk about generations, I’m talking about a group of people that are thinking or acting different from others). Between myself and my kids, for the same 30 years, there are probably three or four generations. Even between my kids, a gap of four years, there are clear differences. 

How many of us work from home now, either full time or in a hybrid capacity? Five years ago, that was not the case. And we all expect seamless experiences across all our technologies however and wherever we access them. This expectation is important. 

The last piece is society and what we expect from it – to have purpose, to be sustainable, to be fair. What we expect from the brands we’re buying from is changing based on that. The concept of identity is much more important than it used to be. 

Accelerating change drives personalization at scale 

Those are the three pillars that we as marketers need to really understand, and I think the way they will evolve marketing is personalization. 

We all want content that is tailored for us, so we need to think about tailor-made content at scale, because you can’t do a message for every single person. And that personalization at scale requires two main elements. 

Twenty years ago, when I started my career, marketing was more an art – the art of having the right messaging and trying to find a way to engage customers. In 2022, marketing is the sum of art plus science. You really need to understand the data, the content, and be able to reach your customer at the right time in the right moment.  

Personalization at scale and having the right mix of science and data is what every marketer needs to think about. 

The CMO must also be a Customer Identity Officer 

The future of marketing is also about trust. If you don’t get the right relationship with your customers based on trust, you will never get the right engagement. And you need to be a customer identity officer to create that trust.  

Right now, when people are online, they’re fed up with being tracked. They don’t give you their real name because they don’t want to be tracked and retargeted every time. You need to make sure that you have the right way of analyzing your customers and engaging them the right way, with the right ethics and privacy statements.  

That’s something very important that you share with your customers because you need to make sure that you don’t breach their trust. 

Reaching the better-informed customer 

And the future of marketing is also about your company story. Because the way people are buying is also changing big time. In business-to-business (B2B) especially, but also in business-to-consumer, the customer is much more self-informed than they used to be. 

Ten years ago, when a customer was calling a sales rep, he or she was roughly 40% or 45% into the buying process. They were not sure what they wanted – they had a point of view, but they wanted advice.  

Nowadays, when a customer is calling us, or any companies in the B2B space, they are already between 75% and 80% into the buying process because they’re much more self-informed, they go online to learn, to talk with peers, and to get strong information about what they want to buy before contacting you. 

The customer is much more self-informed, so you need to make sure that you create many more touch points along their buying journey. It requires a brand to be early in the sales cycle – and when you’re early in the sales cycle, you’re more about the brand than the product. 

The role of the CMO is still demand generation, for sure, but it’s also about understanding your customer’s identity, and using the science – your brain and your data – to create a connection from the start of their buying cycle. And that connection should be emotional. 


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