New species of marketers in the marketing kingdom

Punctuated Equilibrium and Modern Marketing

As a marketer, you have two choices: adapt and survive, or stand still and die. The ones who do the first the best will emerge at the top of the marketing food chain.”

That’s the concluding quote from Gord Hotchkiss’s latest article on MediaPost: Evolving On The Fly: Growth Hackers, Agile Marketers, Bayesian Strategists And CMTs.

Gord’s Search Insider column is my weekly go-to source for big picture thinking in the evolution of marketing. This week he proposed that such evolution is following a pattern known as punctuated equilibrium, which I’ve illustrated above.

An explanation from his article (emphasis added is my own):

If you believe, as I believe, that evolution happens in spurts, then it’s important to understand what causes those spurts. Among many contentious alternatives, one that seems to be more commonly accepted is a sudden dramatic change in what evolutionists call the adaptive landscape. This is the real world that species must adapt to in order to survive. “Flat” landscapes create an even playing field for all species to survive, resulting in relative stasis. “Rugged” landscapes significantly favor some species over others, accelerating evolution dramatically. “Rugged” landscapes generally emerge after some big event, like a catastrophe.

I propose that marketing is currently a very rugged adaptive landscape. Some marketers are going to thrive, and others are going to disappear from the face of the earth. We’re already seeing exciting new species emerge.

Gord then goes on to list several examples of “new species” of marketers:

The metaphor really resonates with me. Although marketing, like all business, is constantly evolving, the reality is that from the 1960’s through the late 1990’s, marketing was in a period of relative stability. Most changes were small and incremental. But with the confluence of all things digital — global connectivity, ubiquitous computing, an explosion in software, the cloud, social media paradigms, etc. — marketing has been disrupted by the quintessential big event.

The geological scale of this event has thrown marketing into a rapidly changing environment.

Earlier this week, IDC gave a presentation on predictions for CMOs in 2013 where one of the analysts, Rich Vancil, said, “Without exaggeration, I’ve seen more change in the CMO suite in the last year than perhaps the last 30 years combined.” He expects that there will be more “rapid change” in the year ahead, particularly in the organizational dynamics surrounding the roles of marketing officers and departments.

Quoting the write-up on that presentation in Information Management:

Tying all of these CMO organizational challenges with data in 2012 and looking ahead exposes the marketing department to a coming wave of “dynamic” budgeting and personnel decisions: a.k.a. job replacements and cuts, and shifts in finances. Even with data-based plans in place, Vancil says 2013 could play out with express changes in the faces and functions of enterprise marketing.

Or in other words, new species of marketers in a rapidly changing environment.

Are you adapting?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always like to read your articles. But this time some questions arose for me.
    What about data-driven marketers? Database marketing is clearly there since the eighties. But with Big Data and new corresponding tools that allow the masses to process all the data reasonably simple, it experienced almost a renaissance or re-birth. Is DDM also a species or more a upper class, which includes growth hackers, agile marketers and others?

  2. Hi, Maximilian.
    Yes! I couldn’t agree more with the notion of data-driven species (genus? family?). The list from Gord that I quoted wasn’t intended to be comprehensive, just a handful of examples.
    The evolving family tree of marketer species does seem like it would make a pretty cool infographic. :-)
    Scott

  3. So we’re evolving from Neadverthal to Homo Technisien?

  4. Another great post, Scott! And thanks for leading me to Gord’s work. I agree with the general principles of the cyclical evolutionary nature. Empirically, it seems to me that the cycles will be increasingly shorter. It’s hard to see how we’ll have sustained periods of of even relative stability. What do you think?

  5. I’m intrigued to see how the next few years play out for marketers. Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace but where are we going to go from here? The iPhone was the game changing just a few short years ago, now tablets are slowing gaining speed. What’s next down the road for tech and how will that impact how marketers do their job?

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