Does CX spell the end of marketing?

In an excellent Retail Customer Experience article, Is this the end of marketing, retail futurist, Doug Stephens, said: “What if all that marketing window-dressing got stripped away. What if the only considerations between one brand and another were facts and hard metrics about product and service performance, price and genuine reputation?…In other words, what if we returned to a world where businesses succeeded because they were excellent, not because they could buy more advertising than anyone else or secure a more creative agency.”

The premise is that the explosion of data available to companies could enable them to focus on what an individual truly values when dealing with a company. What if companies no longer engaged in marketing spin and instead just offered products, services, and a customer experience that exactly met those values?

There are seven factors required to enable this change, all of which are already being implemented by some companies today, though few (if any) do them all.

  1. Meaningful segmentation with a laser-like focus on the customers the company chooses to serve
  2. The collection of data from all interactions with the customer across all channels
  3. A deep, comprehensive and continually updated single view of the customer that encompasses all needs, expectations, and preferences
  4. Algorithms that highlight sales and service opportunities in real-time
  5. A culture that practices mutuality – doing the right thing for the customer knowing it is good for the long-term health of the company
  6. Staff empowered by that culture and access to that single view of the customer and the freedom to act in the best interests of the customer
  7. A process that uses customer information as the primary driver for continuous improvement

This is not just a huge technology challenge. As I said in another recent blog on how to get CRM right: legacy mind-set are a bigger challenge than legacy systems.

Lastly, I’d like to respectfully disagree with Doug Stephens on one point. It is not really the end of marketing. Rather, it is a return to true marketing, which should be an honest dialogue with customers, not a monologue with the winner being the one who shouts loudest. It is why feedback is the listening part of marketing.

Note:  A version of this blog first appeared on


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