So you want to be a CEO? Here’s what you need to know
By Elie Khouri, Chief Executive Officer at OMG
When I say DISRUPTION what comes to your mind?
For many, this somewhat over-used buzzword is the cause of much concern, distress and even fear. For me the notion of disruption evokes only one feeling: extreme excitement. Why? I’m really looking forward to the limitless opportunities for success that will result from the technology changing the face of our existing business models and industries. It’s important to not confuse innovation with disruption – while every disruption is innovative, not every innovation is disruption. A disruption is something that displaces an existing market, industry or technology and produces something new and more efficient and worthwhile.
In my opinion, the disruption the world of marketing and communications is currently undergoing is particularly fascinating.
The change in our industry is so spectacular that I’m certain the CEOs of the future will increasingly hail from the marketing sphere and not the finance or human resource functions. How did I work that one out? Stick with me till the end and you’ll find out.
To start with, it is important to appreciate the ‘marketing’ we once knew no longer exists. Gone are the days when the 4Ps (product, price, place, promotion) and ‘Mad Men’ ruled supreme. Marketing to reach the mass with one ‘big idea’ through TV, radio and newspapers isn’t a viable or successful option anymore.
In fact, the world of marketing is going through a major disruption – we’re going through our own ‘Uber’ moment. The rise of social media and other digital platforms has changed the rules of the game. For example, when a consumer browses, clicks, comments and engages with content online, he creates a data trail. With the right access and analysis, brands, publishers and agencies can now accurately predict what this consumer likes and would most likely buy. As such, the ambiguous and sometimes ineffective mass marketing we once practiced is being replaced by a 24×7, always-on, highly effective mass-tailored approach. However, this increased effectiveness comes at a price: the roles of the old established players are being challenged quite significantly.
In the past, marketing used to be a rather straightforward relationship between advertisers and consumers, managed by intermediaries like agencies, media and publishers – but that is no longer the case. The old linear model has been replaced by an ecosystem where everyone’s role is overlapping with each other. Both advertisers and agencies are becoming publishers, publishers are acting as agencies and consumers are becoming media channels in their own right. At the same time consumers are slowly being replaced by algorithms as a result of artificial intelligence. The lines which used to separate us are now blurred; it’s getting pretty messy.
As the big players of the marketing chain get disrupted, the people working within these industries will also need to disrupt their skillsets. Marketers of the future will be data scientists who understand how to read the numbers to build a great story that can be amplified through the most effective channels. Equipped with an almost scientific mind to read data and strategize, this new breed of marketers will no longer be responsible for stimulating the sales of a brand but its profitability.
In fact, marketers will need to adopt a more long-term focus by developing a life time relationship with consumers, embracing the notion of CLV (a customer’s lifetime value). These marketers will strategize based on data and algorithms rather than past experience or speculative research.
The precision, speed and scale of the marketers of the future will leave no room for comments like: ‘half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half’?
Which brings me to my earlier point about the C-suite. If marketers possess the data and knowledge to drive the bottom line, it follows that they will also be the ones steering a company’s path. In the long run, marketing professionals who are able to show they can deliver and drive long-term profitability will be the ones who end up running the show. So, if you’re an ambitious professional looking to expand your career that will get you close to the C-suite – I urge you to think very seriously about pursuing a career in marketing. There has never EVER been a more exciting time to be in this business.
Artwork featured: George Condo: Linear Composition, 2008-2009 & Large Female Portrait, 2015 and Jean Dubuffet – Affluence