Book Excerpt


Marketing has been around for as long as humans have had something to sell. As a business practice, though, marketing is a relatively new discipline. Marketing departments within companies first sprung up in the middle of the twentieth century. All you needed was a good product prior to the 1960s — be it coffee, tea, or whiskey. That all changed with the advent of mass production and a corresponding rise in competition and commoditization. Marketing flourished when companies suddenly could no longer easily sell everything made possible by mass production.


Advancements in technology and transportation further crowded markets and pushed businesses to remain competitive by hiring marketers and creating marketing divisions. The ranks of professional marketers have swelled ever since, reaching 10.6 million worldwide, as measured by the number of LinkedIn members who list “marketing” or “marketer” in their job titles. Most every aspect of our profession has changed over the past sixty years of marketing practice — not only what we do as marketers and how we do it, but also the actual value marketing provides.


As times have changed, so has the approach to marketing. This has led to quite possibly the largest shift by far, which forms the overall premise of this book — that the view of marketing as merely a combination of art and science is no longer sufficient in today’s customer-centric-hyper-speed world. Sure, creativity and analytics are still important, but they fall short of capturing today’s eight-second-attention-span consumer. A new paradigm fixated on customer insight and speed to market is necessary.


Time and patience for unreliable focus groups, drawn-out brand tracking studies, combative agency shootouts, and expensive management consultants have vanished. Companies need a 24/7 lifeline to real-time customer insight and a marketing capability to seize upon customer truths at a moment’s notice.


Today’s marketing is more like a cocktail. It requires a mix of insight and agility — shaken well — and served with a splash of creativity. I call this new elixir Marketing Flexology. No, I’m not advocating a return to the “Mad Men” era of the 1960s, known for big personalities, power, ego, sexism, and its three-martini lunches. I am, however, encouraging a renaissance of marketing’s most fundamental role: understanding markets and consumers better than anyone else around.


In the chapters that follow, I show you step-by-step how to design a resilient marketing foundation that can withstand any business fluctuation, management change, or crisis du jour. In the first half of the book (Chapters 1 through 6), we examine the forces that transformed marketing from its origins as art and science to a modern-day practice requiring nothing short of insight and agility. In the second half (Chapters 7 through 11) we delve into the proven and proprietary Marketing Flexology Management Framework™ — a mindset and a toolset for outsmarting change and future-proofing your career, your team, and your marketing platform.


In Chapter 1, we trace how both the customer and the marketing profession have transformed over the past sixty years of modern practice. I outline five key shifts that have redefined today’s modern marketing practice, the most seismic of which has been a shift from art and science to insight and agility.


In Chapter 2, we look at the four motivations for organizational change, both natural and engineered, including examples of companies that have radically transformed their business. We also look at creating our own call to action to spur change.


In Chapter 3, we explore strategies to become an insight machine and accelerate customer decision making. The need to quickly move from customer insight to customer experience has never been greater, nor the challenge more daunting.


We turn our newfound listening and learning into high-speed execution and iteration in Chapter 4. We cover the three main pillars of marketing agility: organizational agility, personal agility, and learning agility.


Chapter 5 looks at the inevitable marketing shakeup, which has become a hallmark for our profession, and how to prepare your team for the next crisis du jour.


In Chapter 6, we add the splash of creativity to our Marketing Flexology elixir. In an age where data, technology, and analytics have overrun the creative process, we look at how to sharpen our creativity and break through the dwindling supply of consumer attention.


In Chapter 7, we unveil the most important traits of a dynamic marketing leader, beginning with adopting a business-first mindset.


We then turn to the underlying Marketing Flexology foundation in Chapter 8 — purpose, people, and process. We delve into three main charters for a marketing organization, successful people strategies that work, and the six core marketing processes all leaders must have in place.


Chapter 9 identifies the four things in a marketer’s arsenal that are 100 percent within our control. How we fine-tune these dials—people, programs, budgets, and agencies — often determines how seamlessly we can react to unplanned change and prevent a career blowout.


In Chapter 10, we explore five core strategic marketing tools every marketing leader needs in their management toolbox to maximize their team’s effectiveness. We look at what they are, why they’re important, and what each contains in detail.


We put it all into practice in the final chapter, Chapter 11, with a ninety-day challenge and a week-by-week action plan to transition to a Marketing Flexology mindset and toolset.


Each of these chapters will help you and your business become more agile and focused. As times change, and the marketing industry continues to reinvent itself, we have to respond to the turning tides. If not, we’ll be left behind, extinct, and laid to rest in the marketing graveyard. Remember EF Hutton, TWA, and General Foods? How about Borders, Circuit City, and Enron? These brands were once household names, but not anymore. Together, we can ensure we are taking the bold route, leading the charge, and setting an example for the rest of our industry.


Let’s get started, shall we?

Excerpted from Marketing Flexology: How to Outsmart Change and Future-proof Your Career by Engelina Jaspers. Copyright © 2018.