The last marketer: It’s time for marketing to end


Ironically, I was in line for the Star Tours ride at Disneyland with my kids on April 14th, 2017, as the moment I had been waiting exactly fourteen months for finally arrived: The teaser trailer for Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

The last moment of the trailer was a bombshell, as Luke Skywalker announced, “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.”

Why in the world would Luke Skywalker, The Last Jedi himself, want the Jedi to end? What’s in it for him? Plenty of theories abound, but I suppose we’ll find out soon along with everyone else.

In the meantime, as part of Star Wars week on The Future of Customer Engagement and Commerce, I’d like to explore this theme as it pertains to marketing and marketers.

The Last Marketer

I know I’m no Jedi (sadly), but I’ve been in the marketing field for some time now, and I’m starting to feel a bit like Luke. Hence the title of this post, “It’s time for marketing to end.”

Not literally, of course. Marketing will always be a critical business function as long as companies are battling for share of mind and wallet. What I really mean is that it is time for marketing as we know it to end. The fate of our profession lies in our ability and our willingness to adapt.

The Dark Side

For too long, marketing has been a means for pushing ideas, messages, content, and products at our target audiences. Email blasts, advertising, list purchases, and physical events are just a few examples of push marketing.

This is a concept that most marketers are aware of, but the sad truth is that very few have actually been able to move away from this Dark Side of Marketing. We already know that unwanted phone calls, emails, and non-relevant content pushes are the three most annoying things that global consumers express about brands.

The scary part is that things are only getting more complicated.

There has been an awakening…have you felt it?

For some time now, global consumers have been increasingly sensitive to the use of their data by brands.

We are beginning to see governments jump on this and bring legislation forward. GDPR is the prime example, as the European Union (EU) has moved to strengthen data protection and privacy for individuals beginning in May of 2018. This is serious business for companies, as the fines for non-compliance can be steep (up to 4% of annual revenue).

It’s not a stretch to assume that other major regions of the world will adopt a similar policy, and we are already seeing large corporations implement GDPR compliant processes across the globe rather than just in Europe. Email marketing, database acquisition, and other tactics which require customer identity and consent will become more and more challenging as a result.

Darkness rises…and light to meet it

There is a path away from the Dark Side, however. I personally believe that the future of marketing revolves around mindful marketing and customer experience (CX).

We must have a laser focus on creating helpful, relevant content for our audiences, across all stages of the customer journey. Content that appeals to their aspirations as people, but that is also tied to their success in the workplace.

We will no longer be able to acquire new customers through traditional methods and will need to build trusted relationships, so that we are considered reliable leaders with answers to their most burning questions. Once we become a trusted advisor, the hope is that they will think of our brand when the time arrives to solve their problem with a purchase of our product or service.

Every decision we make as marketers must put the experience of our customers first. From digital properties and content, to physical events, to advertisements and SEM, this mindset will help us achieve empathy for them in a way that push marketing could never achieve.

As Yoda would proclaim, “All about you, marketing has been. All about them, marketing must become.”

Gurdeep Dhillon
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December 12, 2017
Gurdeep Dhillon

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