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What comes to your mind when you hear "marketing"?

I bet you think of billboards, TV spots and glossy magazine ads. But marketing has - and continues to - evolve from that. As the following articles show, leading thinkers in marketing are recognizing that the discipline is now less about broadcasting and is increasingly becoming about providing true value to the customer.

This is something we know firsthand at Vision Critical: we work with marketers who use their insight communities to engage with customers, ultimately providing both value to customers seeking deeper brand relationships as well as to companies seeking continuous insight into customer perceptions, attitudes and behaviors. Customers today are more empowered than ever, so using real-time customer intelligence has never been more critical for both sides of this relationship.

Wondering what's ahead in marketing? Here are three perspectives to consider:

  1. Marketing will become a critical part of the customer experience.

Small data allows marketers to hone in on data as it affects a particular pilot strategy. So if you envision it, the rise of small data is happening because marketers are doing all these [programs] and going after small data for a particular instance. Marketing becomes greater than the marketing function that it is today and becomes a big part of customer experience in every moment of truth. And the people leading the future of marketing become purveyors of customer truth. - Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group, speaking to

TWEET THIS: Marketing will become "a big part of customer experience in every moment of truth" - @briansolis.

  1. Marketing ROI will consider the value of satisfied customers.

When an unhappy customers' situation is flipped on its head by a small expense approved by an empowered customer service professional what you have is an investment in your customer; to create and keep them, and that is without a doubt a marketing investment. Furthermore, the cost of replacing a customer is 6x the cost of retention, so why wouldn't we want to keep our customers happy?

Another great example is the way companies such as Dell and Starbucks use online communities to drive product development and innovation. While one company is a technology company and the other is a beverage company, both have invested substantially in building their brand evangelists by making their most loyal customers ideas and input feel welcome and sometimes even utilized in their product optimization.

While Steve Jobs may have been known for never putting his ear to the street and just "knowing" what his customers want, he was the exception and not the rule. Companies that can find ways to listen and adapt to their customer feedback can build a new type of loyalty that translates into dollar returns. The challenge again is how do you attribute that to a campaign? Is it even possible? - Daniel Newman on

TWEET THIS: #Marketing #ROI needs to move beyond just customer creation and measurable returns. - @danielnewmanUV

  1. Marketing will increasingly become about customer relationships.

The shift reflects a wider acceptance that marketing is not about the latest campaign and trying to sell a product or service to as many people as possible. Instead it is about managing relationships, engaging with customers and putting consumers at the heart of communication.

Marketers are also increasingly finding themselves pulled into different parts of the business, from IT to HR, managing vast IT spend or how a company is portrayed to potential employees.

The internet puts consumers more in control than ever before, with brands no longer able to talk at them but instead having to build a two-way dialogue. They must think about what a customer wants and build their marketing plan around that, rather than looking at the product or service and the best way to communicate its benefits. - Sarah Vizard on MarketingWeek

TWEET THIS: Marketing is no longer about campaigns. It's about managing customer relationships. - @scviz

How do you see the discipline of marketing evolving? Please let us know by leaving a comment below or by tweeting us at @VisionCritical.

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