The role of marketing within companies is changing. How can we anticipate future evolutions? And more importantly, how can companies arm themselves to be ready? Rudy Moenaert, professor Strategic Marketing and Academic Director of the Executive Master of Marketing program at TIAS School for Business and Society, and member of the advisory board at Minds & More, talks change, impact and evolution within marketing.


Evolution
When asked about marketing during the past 50 years and the key evolutions of the marketing function, Rudy Moenaert notices a major change from marketing communication towards analytics, and more recently also towards a business enablement. “There’s still a lot of emphasis on traditional marketing communication. However, many companies, especially in B2B, are shifting their attention to marketing analytics. For instance, Customer Relationship Management and sales funnel analytics have become key in contemporary B2B marketing.”

“In my opinion, the role of marketing today is threefold: to discover, to move and to bond. First of all, it’s about bringing the customer into the board room. Secondly, marketing can move an organization and have impact on this organization when it comes to its customers. This is key because this concerns the impact we have lost over the years. And then there’s the bonding role. How can we, in a transparent society, be able to link not only to the customer, but also to other stakeholders? Think about Facebook and you know how important that is.”


The triggers
“If marketing isn’t digital, it’s going to disappear. Digitalization is not just necessary, it’s essential. Artificial Intelligence in marketing is emerging, for example, although I think it’s still very much hyped. Another important trigger of change is globalization. Right now, Chinese cars are being manufactured in Ghent. It’s not just about us looking at the rest of the world, thinking “How can we conquer them?”. It’s also about how we respond competitively in a global arena.
Marketing is partly turning into a business function. We have to take into account not only the value for the customer, but also the value for the shareholders. Additionally, we need to create value for our employees and for society. The importance of responsibilization increases day by day.”


Redefine the role of marketing
“Change starts with people and leadership. How much of your time, as a marketer, are you spending completely devoted to marketing communication? It’s not just about that anymore. It’s also about enabling the business. As Dorkas Koenen, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Rabobank, states so eloquently: marketing must create superior customer insights better than sales and service, market insights better than external consultants, and business insights better than finance and operations. The core task of marketing is understanding and bringing that understanding to the boardroom table. That’s the transformation in marketing that is needed. Marketing must be the architect of the core processes between the organization and its stakeholders. Its task is to enable market sensitivity and responsiveness, through its leadership and processes.”
“However, you can’t sell anything in the outside world, if you can’t sell it in the boardroom internally. We need people who are business savvy. They need to be able to grasp the financial repercussions of their advice and decisions. They are what you could call marketing generalists. We will also continue to need true marketing specialists, in the analytical function, on the level of CRM, AI, big data, … ”

 

Anticipate change
“You can only improve yourself if you surprise yourself. The biggest lever to achieve this is diversity. If you stay within a network that consists only of people of your age and experience discipline, gaining novel or disruptive insights will be difficult. You need to talk to people with different kinds of experience and learn from each other. Build your network. Co-create. Dive into confrontation with the world that is changing. You can’t learn about the new way of marketing while sitting behind your desk. The same way you can’t learn how to ski in the Polders. If you want to keep up, go for heavyweight education. Think about Vlerick or TIAS. Focus on digital, make sure you understand the business and keep in mind that only with true leadership, you will be able to move people and organizations.”

Because we strongly believe that continuous education in our market is key, Minds & More encourages and empowers alumni associations such as SLM at Vlerick. Register to the Vlerick Gala evening 50 years SLM/M3 HERE.