IBM Investment Shows Marketing IS Eating Sales

Recently I wrote about the idea that marketing is eating sales, a direct quote from Barry O’Sullivan the new CEO of Altocloud. The concept is that marketing departments are gaining more power within organizations at the expense of sales departments. It isn’t that sales is going away, it is just that much of the waste in a sales department can effectively be eliminated if automated systems are used to better target and presell customers. The idea is a nurtured lead is a far better prospect than a cold call.

Big data of course is a hot trend these days and it seems its application will be most successful in areas like marketing automation where massive amounts of information about prospects and customers exist. Oracle’s Eloqua acquisition was made with these concepts in mind. The company says their solutions will help “modern marketers.” They further discuss how they tie this division into their business analytics and big data capabilities.

Video below shows how Eloqua ties into the Oracle’s marketing strategy

Speaking of big data and analytics, IBM is not going to let this market opportunity get away from them. Armonk has built an incredible consulting organization over the past decade plus and they are smart enough to see big trends on the horizon and capitalize on them. This explains their $100 million additional investment into ad consulting.

This makes sense based on what IBM’s comments from last year. In an interview, Carl Ford of Crossfire Media spoke with Blair Reeves (pictured below) of IBM who said the following:

Companies should spend less time on advertising and worrying about various channels and instead focus more on putting customers at the center of their business. He went on to explain that everything is part of big data – there is so much data going out there not only on the marketing side but related to how people are buying and selling he said. Another interesting point was this coupled with social information can be used by companies to serve their customers better.blair-reeves-ibm.png

Perhaps the most compelling part of the interview was a reference to “digital Darwinism” where the companies that move and adapt quickly making smarter investments and moves with their customer base will win over those stuck in the past.

IBM’s consulting business already employs 5,000 and will add another 1,000 to help companies in the area of data analytics and more. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The group recently worked with a large consumer product goods company to help them figure out which two major movie stars they could use as brand ambassadors in their marketing campaign. IBM used its software to mine social media and other sources such the client’s customer data to determine which of the celebrities had the most influence with its customers.

Madison Avenue is getting used to the competition. Over the past few years, Accenture and Deloitte, which both compete with IBM in management consulting have also beefed up their marketing capabilities. At the same time tech companies such as Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle Corp. have also jumped into the fray with many of them building out technology platforms –with the help of expensive acquisitions–that can help companies manage their marketing efforts across different media and channels using technology.

Marketing will continue to rely less on guess-work and more on quantifiable data. Moreover, there will be many companies who get this transition wrong as they focus on leads but forget about their brand. It is a common error actually; many marketing people consider the number of leads they receive as a more important metric than how their brand is perceived.

In other words, if a company focuses its time mostly on leads and not on branding, it may end up spinning its wheels because many of the leads won’t consider their company when they make a purchase.

Big data can be extremely useful in helping companies determine brand preferences but in my experience many small to mid-sized companies don’t even consider doing such surveys because they have a laser focus on leads.

The bottom line is analytics and big data will continue to drastically transform marketing and marketing will continue to eat sales… This market will continue to remain very competitive and over time, even the small to medium companies will learn how to analyze all the data that matters. Companies that understand how to holistically evaluate their marketing spend and make correct decisions based on this knowledge will be far-better equipped for what IBM calls digital Darwinism.

See also from TMC’s Content Boost division: CEOs Look toward CMOs to Forge Brand Strategy

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