Marketing—It’s A-Changin’

“The times; they are a-changin’.”

Those famous words are from the title track of renowned singer Bob Dylan’s 1964 album. And they hold true more than 50 years later for today’s marketers. This evolution of the industry was the focus of Oracle‘s Modern Marketing Experience conference last week in Las Vegas. And the company’s VP of Marketing, Andrea Ward, delved deeper into those changes as she moderated a fervent panel on the stage of the Venetian Ballroom.

At the discussion, entitled “Challenging Convention: Disruptive Modern Marketing,” social media was a main topic of conversation, of course. Social continues to change the game—but some marketers are still trying to figure out how to get the most of it. “Social is about influence,” said Neil Rongstad, global manager of marketing demand central at Rockwell Automation. “People or potential customers may not know us today. But through social, we can influence and teach them so that we can show them who we are.”

Not only can social introduce shoppers to a brand, but it can grab the much-wanted attention of ever-distracted consumers. “When we [as marketers] understand the context of our messages on social, then you realize that you have to create content that’s worthy of their attention,” said Kathryn Schotthoefer, SVP of social media at HeavenSpot, a digital creative agency that works with consumer brands. Schotthoefer pointed out that on social media brands aren’t competing with merely other brands for attention. They’re competing with family, friends, and coworkers for attention. So when someone invites a brand into his feed, marketers need to make the most of that opportunity.

“They’ve invited you into their personal space: their feed,” she explains. “Now, earn their engagement—the like, the retweet, the follow. Social is the front door and is about making it personal at the start. And after [that initial engagement], make each step just as personal.”

Megan Lueders, VP of global marketing at video and audio telecommunications company LifeSize, said that the mind-set of marketers must change too. “Have the customer at the front of your mind every day,” she insisted to the audience. “Because we’re in the business of making our customers happy. And all of that has to be articulated not just from one team but across all departments. Come at it from a customer perspective.”

For a marketing team to be effective, Sandy Viteri, VP of global marketing operations for comScore, said that marketers need tools. “It’s about enabling your team. Give them the right tools. Prepare them to be successful. That’s how I’ve empowered—and continue to empower—my team,” she said.

But although tools are necessary, Rockwell Automation’s Rongstad warned marketers not to get so caught up in technology that they ignore their gut instincts. “It’s important not to go so deep into the technical. First, set goals—or what you are trying to drive. Then, and only then, infuse the tech,” he says.

On a final note, Viteri gave this advice about the future of the industry: “It’s not only a transformation; it’s a revolution—a revolution of the buyer and the seller. Stay ahead of the curve. Use the data.”

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