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BW Businessworld

“Marketer Cannot Be Lazy”

Marketing automation will stay in focus, but its coverage and definition are set to evolve from inducing to transforming the customer journey.

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As the growth arc of marketing changes, the new version of a marketer requires a champion of data, digital transformation and the resultant customer experience, according to Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer, HDFC. In this conversation with BW Businessworld, Santhanam asserts that the next few years will be great for marketers to evolve themselves in this fashion

Marketing has transformed rapidly over the years. How has this impacted the expectations from a future-ready marketer?

Marketing was always a vast field, seen as a tool to help in selling. The selling process changed, moving away from depending too much on people, at least as far as convincing the customer goes. The rise of self-service in a digital world, changing customer preferences to decide them- selves and perhaps even distrust in actively selling, have all given rise to data dependence. Marketers want to go deep into this customer journey of self-convincing. This has given rise to the need for a marketer to learn and analyse data in large volumes, so data science has become key.

If convincing is now self-service, then there is a need for consumption process to be that too. Naturally, the marketer has a significant stake in this part, making the transformation of process and digitisation, critical. Hence, we arrive at the new version of the marketer being the champion of data, digital transformation and the resultant customer experience. The next few years will be great for marketers to evolve themselves in this fashion.

What do you see as some of the key trends that will guide marketing?

The future is in end-to-end account- ability of a customer’s journey. It would be easy to focus only on generating traffic or recall. However, organisations that generate super-normal profits will have someone lead the way. Customer life-cycle-management has been around for decades, but we are now learning that it is sum of parts. Marketing automation will stay in focus, but its coverage and definition are set to evolve from inducing to transforming the customer journey.

Your advice to marketing professionals in this backdrop?

Marketers cannot be lazy and need to keep evolving. They will need to revisit their personal development plan and focus on learning new things to be the customer’s voice in the organisation. If this needs one to challenge them- selves and explore areas that overlap with others, so be it. At the end of the day, a marketer is also a professional who needs to bring in value to their organisation. This can come by thinking about the customer all the time. This obviously does not mean that other departments do not think about customers but marketing as a discipline has a great role to play in this and support all departments. It is a blessing and a challenge.