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From triathlon to heptathlon – who is coaching your marketing team?

Mar 2, 2017

The data revolution

By the standards of the time, analog media and marketing used and generated a great deal of data. Data inventories back then however increased slowly, and they were built on surveys and campaign outcomes. Data was linked only to large consumer segments, and the market researcher was the primary advisor for marketers.

Today, marketing and customer data is available real time, its growing exponentially, and it concerns individual consumers or decision-makers. Surveys have been replaced by data, the automatic byproduct of everyday use of digital services and products. Analysts, data scientists, and architects have replaced the market researcher without making to much noise around it.

In the midst of the transformation, the marketer is learning a new, mandatory language used in hundreds of thousands of personal encounters with individual consumers. And all this is done real-time and in a highly customized way to enable relevance in every encounter.


No more gut feeling

Before the data revolution, marketing success was about mastering three basic skills: creative content, target groups and media. A shortcoming in one of these areas, resulted in marketing failure: the target group was too small or wrongly chosen, the message had no impact, or the media budget was wasted.

The same rule still applies: If you fail to master one critical marketing skill, the results will be disasterous. The difference today however is that there are several new skillsets required, and the modern marketer need to master not three but seven core skills.

The growing number of expertise areas in marketing has increased the complexity of the trade. And complexity is always followed by risks. A simple calculus says that a marketer making random binary choises, gets three things simultaneously right, one time out of eight. If he or she is to get seven things randomly and simultaneously right, the odds are one out of 128. In other words: a gambling marketer in the past had seven theoretical opportunities to fail, and one to succeed. Today, the number of potential failures for one win is 127.


No forfeits are allowed in heptathlons

Fortunately companies tend to hire experts, not gamblers, to manage their marketing. The exaggerated example however well illustrates the increased complexity of marketing today. Only very recently consumer behaviour was dramatically changed by three billion smartphones, accessed by each consumer as much as 80 times per day (on an average). This equals 240 billion daily interactions for marketers to figure out how to be present and get their message heard. (the forecast for the year 2020 is close to one trillion daily smartphone interactions).

Since 2007, when the world was introduced to the smartphone, Avaus has been developing the seven core and critical areas of modern marketing. Together with our clients, we have had the ambition and opportunity to thoroughly update and improve marketing practices in the Nordics. 

I wanted to summarise our 10-year journey and experience into one single image, consisting of 36 critical pieces. The image is describing the entirely new playing field of marketing, and the critical skillset needed for successfull marketing. Today, marketers must master each sport of the heptathlon, and failing in any of these means you’re out of the game.