What is Modern Marketing?


Modern, measurable marketing. Sounds like a catchy tagline. But what is modern marketing? Great question. At Lake One we have a strong opinion about what modern marketing is and are often asked about it. Whether it’s what exactly would you say you do?


Or more directly, what is modern marketing?

Quick Index

What is modern marketing?

We consider modern marketing any strategy that leverages a measurable, scalable approach to understanding audience/product alignment. What we mean by this, is that modern marketing is always striving to achieve two things.

First, to be accountable to the question of what did marketing deliver. Either in a financial return or measurable learning about a market.

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Second, marketing should seek to drive scale and efficiency. We’re not looking for a one-hit wonder.

Marketing today doesn’t have to be black magic. We don’t have to guess. With the democratization of complex analysis and machine learning, we’re able to learn quickly what works and what doesn’t work, whether we’re online, offline, or on the go.  Yes, there is still a place for great branding and brand strategy, but modern marketing seeks to scale and create efficiency in the lessons we learn along the way. Ultimately, this is where you start to see the kind of hyper-growth emerging from the startup community.

Leveraging the metrics-driven mentality and a desire to find avenues that can scale, modern marketing allows businesses to learn what works fast, and then ramp that up as sales and revenue follow.

Modern marketing in this sense is no longer the traditional marketing method where an ad was created and then that was that. Modern marketing is about customer experience at every touchpoint, building relationships with customers, adapting continuously the new digital landscapes, and marketing across multiple channels to reach different consumers. Modern marketing is personal. Traditional methods still matter, but they must be incorporated into modern marketing strategies. Building a modern marketing plan requires several components: (1) Tech Stack; (2) Skills (3) Team; (4) Measurement; and (5) On-going education. This guide will touch on each of those. But first, we need to address something else.

Modern marketing understands that buyers have changed. Modern marketing focuses on – you guessed it – a modern buyer

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Why does modern marketing matter to business?

Modern buyers now too? What the heck – this is too much. No, I promise it’s critical to understand why marketing has to change in your business. Ready? Okay.

Modern Buyers Start OnlineConsumers can purchase anything, anywhere, at any time, using almost any technical device that is Wi-Fi capable. The kinds of purchases — the planned ones versus the impulsive ones — haven’t changed, but behaviors associated with how they are purchased has changed. From wearable gadgets to your phone to your laptop, digital shopping is the norm. Some key points about the modern day buyer and behavior include:

  • Online research. If you are the kind of shopper that likes to research your product first, then you likely start online.  In fact, virtually every buyer doesn’t whether consumer or enterprise. Buyers are highly informed by the time they talk to sales or get close to their purchase moment. From his or her own experience, a buyer knows that there is a range of prices out there contingent on quality, seller source, quantity, etc., and technology is helping them make smarter choices in a time-efficient manner.
  • Social Media. Your research probably will tend to involve social media, including reviews of products made by the general population and by people you follow on social media (e.g., marketing influencers). Social media and personal reviews in many ways matter more today than advertisements.

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  • Buyer Controlled. There are a lot of choices, and many are comparable given the competitive nature of the Internet. Buyers are deciding what they need and when they need it; marketers are no longer the source of that knowledge alone.
  • Indecisive. With more options follow more indecisions; too much to choose from. Consumers place items in shopping carts and then leave it to look for the same or other products elsewhere. Sometimes they return, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes it is strategic on their part. Imagine going into a brick and mortar store and placing items in a cart and then leaving it at the checkout counter.
  • Brands, or No Brands. The focus isn’t necessarily on the brand, but then again, it depends on the purchase. Some brands demand loyalty and get it through integrity, others not so much. Consider Apple. Then consider your toothbrush. One brand you’re loyal to, the other you may not care so much except that it does the job. Both are ordered online.
  • Personalized Buying Behavior. As the above suggests, and whether it’s shopping in the marketplace, big retail stores, or web stores, buying behavior is personal. Consumers are a diverse group of people, and they all have different ways to purchase different things. Some prefer online research via their computer for big items to purchase while they use their smartphone to search for local purchases. The digital age is the personalized age.

Accompanying these behavior changes is an acceleration in competition: everyone who has anything to sell is online. Even groceries can be purchased and delivered via the internet. Discoverability is a fundamental issue, and second to that is the issue of conversion. Businesses need to be discovered online among hundreds, if not thousands, of other competitors. And once discovered, they need to convert visitors to customers or clients. The solution is: modern marketing.

How to build a modern marketing tech stack

A marketing technology stack is integral to building a modern marketing plan, but many businesses have no idea what it is. Technology stack is a grouping of technology-based tools used by marketers to execute and improve marketing activities across different channels. Technology stacks, if leveraged strategically, can add a lot of value to a company’s modern marketing scheme. Referencing consumer behavior and the reality that shopping is highly personalized today, marketing technology stacks address this consumer behavior comprehensively and effectively. A “one size fits all” marketing campaign is no longer an acceptable or profitable method.

The same holds true for tech stacks: one size does not fit all; each company should customize it according to needs and objectives. Tech stacks can be created from different angles, including but not limited to frameworks that are job/role based, role/activity based, platform/application based, and buyer journey based. Using the last as an example, the tech stack can be sectioned into 6 parts that are aligned to the buyer’s journey and core marketing needs: (1) marketing planning; (2) attract/awareness; (3) lead conversion; (4) nurturing; (5) sales/close; and (6) analytics and automation.

Each component would be layered with technology tools to execute each component’s objectives. Some tools will overlap with other components of the tech stack. Examples of tools include:

  • Content management system
  • Advertising technology
  • Conversion technology
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Customer relationship management
  • Search engine optimization
  • Outreach technology
  • Automation software
  • Interactive content
  • Web analytics
  • Collaboration.

Once a tech stack is created, you need to make sure the marketing team has the skills necessary to implement the components of the tech stack. [Here are some of our favorite tools.]

How to build a modern marketing team

The Modern Marketer: Necessary Skills

Skills are a basic necessity to get anything done, and the same holds true for modern marketing. But to get it done right, certain skills are required, not just the basics. Below is a list of must-have skills in order to navigate modern marketing successfully.

Time Management. There are several things that matter with regard to time. First, it’s limited. Second, there are multiple tasks that need to be undertaken and multi-tasking isn’t always the most beneficial method. Third, response time to data is crucial to maximize the benefits of metrics, increase profits, and overall stay abreast and appropriately address changing consumer buying behaviors.

Critical Thinking. There are many factors that must be considered when planning a modern marketing plan. Knowing how they apply, where they apply, why they apply, and how to address, optimize and work with all the factors will be key to development of marketing strategy and tech stack.

Data Analysis. Being able to strategically use data is critical to data-driven modern marketing. The right questions must be drafted to mine the right data, and the data must be analyzed in a meaningful, productive way.

Curiosity & Imagination. The traits of kids is what’s needed most today. These qualities can be honed into skills. Asking why and how can lead to amazing discoveries. Being able to think “outside the box,” and imagining what others have not yet imagined can propel your marketing plan and company forward. These skills could be key to a modern marketing plan that is innovative and proprietary.

Technical Skills. The more technical skills, the better. There’s a lot to know, and the more that’s known the better. But it’s not just knowing the technical tool, but knowing how to use it prudently. SEO is important, but if not done right, it’s useless. The same for blogging, social media, email newsletters, etc. A website that’s not user-friendly and optimized for experience won’t be revisited.

Networking Skills. Having connections creates opportunities for engaging a targeted audience and remaining relevant to that audience.

Goals-Focused. Ascertaining goals and aligning them with objectives keeps the team and the business focused.

Win-win Mentality. We all win. Having this perspective ensures the company excels because it gives consumers what they want, and therefore, and in return, a loyal and ever-increasing customer-base propels the company towards goal-attainment.

Leadership. This may be listed last, but it is by no means the least required. In fact, leadership is fundamental to a modern marketing plan. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a relatively new position, but one necessary in today’s marketing environment. A CMO can be so many things: from a strategist to a brand marketer to a culture builder. Whatever the strengths of the CMO are, they need to be aligned with the business’s vision and mission.

Of course, no one individual will excel in each of these skills or roles. A company must create a team to encompass all of it.

Modern Marketing: Designing a Team

Knowing what skills are necessary to execute a modern marketing plan and its tech stack is a prerequisite to designing a team: you want to make sure your team encompasses these skills. Like all investments, diversifying is a strategy that ensures you get results, therefore, diversify your team. Each member has different experiences and knowledge; know what each area is and capitalize on them in a way that they (1) complement other team members’ strengths; or (2) compensate other team members’ weaknesses. When designing a team, ask the following questions:

  • What are the benefits of adding generalists or specialists to the team?
  • Can there be a strategic mix of generalists and specialists? If so, who and what?
  • Who has what specific skills? Where do skills overlap?
  • Can a generalist do the work of a specialist?
  • What skills do we need most? Are we lacking in any skills?
  • What are the subsets of the primary skills?
  • What are company goals and what are marketing team goals? How do they align?
  • How are goals achieved? What skills are needed?

There’s no one method to designing a team, but there is one requirement: create a team where members’ skills complement and support each other’s skills so that collaboration and results can both be maximized.

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How do you measure modern marketing?

Measuring the success or failures of your modern marketing plan and learning from that experience is important for the integrity and relevance of your business. There are key steps to measuring the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing strategy.

BONUS: Download our template to help you get started with SMART GOALS

  1. Establish SMART goals:
  • Specific. Goals should be clear and unambiguous.
  • Measurable. The results of goals should be quantifiable.
  • Attainable. Goals should be realistic so that they can be achievable.
  • Relevant. Goals should incorporate company’s vision while implementing mission.
  • Time. Goals should have definite time frames (start & end dates or a fixed duration).
  1.  Define how goals will be measured. Measurement tools include the analysis of the rates actual sales, leads that convert customers, and traffic conversions where visitors convert to customers.
  1.  Establish benchmarks. If the business does not already have benchmarks to start, then it can use industry benchmarks available through industry reports. Benchmarks help you stay focused on the bigger picture so you don’t get lost in all the available data.
  2.  Re-set goals annually (at a minimum), analyze data and implement new strategies accordingly.

The beauty of a modern marketing approach is that marketing can become a reliable business partner. A logical next step when you take a modern marketing approach is to move towards smarketing, or sales and marketing alignment and getting both of the revenues teams working smoothly, together.

Modern Marketer: Best Resources

True modern marketers are lifelong learners. That’s just the way it is today. Consumer behaviors are constantly changing, and marketing must follow and meet the challenges of these changes. Learning feeds innovation, too. Part of the learning is the experience, while the other part is seeking out new information. Experience has always been an excellent teacher, and the best lessons learned are the ones from failed projects. When a failure happens, it provides insight and an opportunity to create something better out of the ashes. Failure is a tool and should be used as such. Complementing experience is real-time education, whether reading books on the subject or attending specialized courses.

Like most professional roles, on-going education is required to stay current; the same should be true for modern marketers, especially since technology is constantly changing consumers’ behaviors, and consumer behavior is driving modern marketing’s need to constantly adapt.  If modern marketers can continually adapt the marketing plan according to technology, then the modern marketer can stay in sync with the dynamics of today’s consumer and find a competitive edge over the competition.

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