The stereotypical image of the 1980s-era marketing specialist with red-rimmed glasses and colourful braces didn't do much for the industry's reputation. If anything, it gave the wider business world a notion of what a specialised marketing function might look like if a firm were to build one. More than a quarter of a century later, marketing is taken as a given. So how does it function in an electronic age?
One element that has stayed the same is the so-called 'marketing mix', a combination of what are referred to as the four P's: product, price, promotion, and place. The big change, of course, is that now these elements exist in the digital space, where cloud computing is on the rise. So is marketing suited to the cloud?
A recent ZDNet and TechRepublic survey found that 40 percent of ICT leaders recognised the importance of the cloud as a core capability to create real competitive advantage - and 28 per cent of other C-level executives felt the same way. There's no excuse, then, for not using the cloud as a marketing platform. Cloud solutions offer synchronicity and customisability that can be tuned for competitive advantage wins, if we know when and where to look.
Why should marketing just focus on social media on Monday, then concentrate on customer relationship management (CRM) programmes on Tuesday? Why should it drill down into advertising schedules on Wednesday, before spending the rest of the week on direct mail or email targeting?
We can now plug into systems that synchronise our CRM efforts with advertising placements on Facebook and coordinate with every other aspect of our promotional effort inside one unified platform.
Plus, we can tune these systems and use them as much as we need, depending on product launches, seasonality, market competition, and special offers. Crucially, the best marketing solutions can be adjusted as the market changes.
The ZDNet and TechRepublic survey found that 79 percent of businesses plan to increase their use of cloud platform as a service (PaaS) capabilities in the next 12 months for building content delivery network (CDN) functions. This plays right into the marketing cloud sweet spot, as marketing departments can utilise cloud services for data analytics, customer segmenting, and contact targeting.
From this point onwards, the cloud can make marketing democratic, so all stakeholders can have input. Marketing solutions will become predictive based upon analytics and operational intelligence, and they will be automated. But as always, marketing remains a mix, even in the cloud.