Imagine it’s a lovely day in the spring of 2020. Flowers are blooming, my beloved Mets are still rebuilding, and the Rolling Stones will be making the rounds for one last tour/money grab.
As for the marketing industry, the once-familiar business tactics will start to die off—or will already be dead.
Here are the top 10 business tactics and norms that we can expect to fall by the wayside in the next five years.
Siloed marketing departments
Don’t worry readers, I don’t mean to say that marketing will cease to exist, but the era of companies having separate departments for brand strategy, digital, social media, or content production will be over. It’s all just marketing, which is totally focused on one thing: revenue generation.
Consequently, the CMO will become the second-most-important person in an organization—after the CEO—because he/she is responsible for overseeing and perfecting the customer experience to maximize the revenue generated from those efforts.
This also means there will no longer be an independent sales head. That person will now work with—and for—the CMO. This leads right into the next point.
The time of the relationship-focused, back-slapping salesperson is coming to a close. We are moving into a user-driven sales environment where all the information a customer might ever need about a product is readily available on the Web.
Unless your salespeople bring real industry, insight, and consulting expertise to the buying experience, they don’t provide any value. The best (and last standing) salespeople will be those with real knowledge that customers need to help them make informed and intelligent buying decisions. The order-taker reps will have long been replaced with a website.
Wide-net sales tactics
Sensing a theme? Say farewell to arcane and interruptive sales tactics—cold calling, email blasts, direct mailing, etc.
The days when sending blind emails (or faxes) to prospects you don’t know touting the benefits of your solution or product are over. Increasingly rare, it will become nearly impossible to have someone pick up a call or return a message from someone they don’t know, let alone enter the buying process.
Selling is helping, so unless your communication to a user immediately proves valuable and relevant, it will be more of a nuisance than anything.
Very few people will still have an old-school paper resume. Instead we will have a curated (and, in some cases, not-so-curated) digital footprint—consisting of a LinkedIn profile, blog, social profiles, images, and other items that surface in a Google search.
These will be the go-to resources for companies looking to hire new talent and people looking to vet nascent personal relationships. This revolution in “getting to know someone” is a double-edged sword because the Internet is forever, which makes reputation management essential across all your platforms.
Imagine the future presidential election candidates that will be from the generation that grew up with Facebook. A potential disaster for all involved is highly plausible.
Because we increasingly live our private lives in the public sphere—thanks to social media—it’s important to remember that if you wouldn’t want your mom to see it, you should keep it far from the Internet.
The cubicle and the 9-to-5
By 2020, Baby Boomers will be planning retirement, Gen X will be in mid-career, and the culture is decidedly millennial.
The traditional 9-to-5 world is ending, because employees are always connected and the lines between the workday and our personal lives are blurred. This has its good and bad points. Want to leave at 4 p.m. for yoga? Go for it, but when the boss emails at 9 p.m., she’ll be expecting a response immediately.
This will also affect how offices look, because no one wants to sit in boxes anymore. Open design is now the norm along with telecommuting, job sharing, and sabbaticals. And no one will ever wear a tie again—well, maybe every now and then.
Very few annual reports, directories, or any internal or external documents will continue to be printed.
Online publications with interactive graphics and video can provide so much more value and ease of distribution. The same goes for B2B trade publications, as they will all move to online formats. Consequently, the print advertising support that kept them afloat will dry up—after all, you can’t click on a magazine.
Retailers will also realize that most of the sale flyers they stuff in newspapers and mailboxes are going straight to the recycle bin. These paper products will turn to email, digital, and mobile delivery almost exclusively.
It is unlikely that companies will continue to supply workers with mobile devices and computers. Everyone will bring their own, and the IT department will have to adjust and adapt. Similarly, the CIO will now work more closely with the CMO, not the CFO.
Internal systems will move to the cloud, and the majority of technology expenditure will be in customer-facing assets. As computing technology improves and the culture of technology changes to a more open and crowd-sourced environment, internal tech teams will have to stay flexible amid the constant state of change.
The “Mad Men” style demographic targeting will be a thing of the past—meaning no more “our target is 60 percent female, ages 24 to 45, with a HHI of $75,000-plus.” Who thinks of themselves in that way?
Same goes for B2B. Forget about going after job titles. In fact, we will lose the word “target” altogether.
Customers and prospects are a community—or an audience—and they are reached and engaged with by their common interests, passions, or needs. The best way to accomplish this is with high-quality content delivered on an opt-in basis that builds a true two-way consumer-business relationship. B2B and B2C become P2P—person to person.
Teleconferencing technology will become better and more efficiently used. Everything from Google+ and Skype to enterprise-level systems that make you feel like you are in the same room will proliferate in the commercial space.
Audio- and video-enabled robots already exist with screens that can display the face of the remote party and be maneuvered around the office in and out of meetings as needed. Innovations like these will curtail the need to fly across the country for face time or for only one or two meetings.
Of course, face-to-face interaction will always be crucial in business relationships, but it can be reserved for a few essential instances.