Three themes for the future of marketing

As I write this article for the last time in my current role (I am the outgoing chief executive of The Marketing Society), we’re entering yet another week in lockdown.

While no one would deny it’s been both challenging and surreal for us all both personally and professionally, through the dark times we are seeing the shining lights of new opportunities and hope throughout our global community and beyond.

Like many, we have been focusing on a ‘new kind of normal’ with particular emphasis on the wellbeing of our teams, which is ever-more crucial right now. And through that lens we are recognising the humanity in everything we do.

Through pivoting and reframing we’ve found new ways of working that have led us to become more connected as a global community than ever before. We are sharing and learning from our friends and colleagues all over the world and it’s been an uplifting and positive experience.

Never have we had to be so agile. Many of us transitioned from an office-based business to working from home overnight. I am a self-confessed digital Luddite, but yet now feel strangely empowered by embracing new technology and accepting a little person may join virtual meetings.  And it’s OK.

So, to mark Earth Day in April we decided to host our first truly global conversation featuring marketing leaders from seven of our hubs in Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Dubai, New York, Scotland and London.  As I spoke to our participants one thing became abundantly clear, they were all incredibly optimistic about the future of our industry and each other.

There were so many fascinating insights so I thought I would share three themes that emerged.


There’s always been a question in our industry about the relevance of marketing in the C-suite so it’s time to think less like a marketer and more like an owner. Now is the time to encourage brand loyalty so we need to innovate at pace and listen to our customers.  To make things happen we need to seize every opportunity – be brave, be bold, be unafraid to take risks and try even the craziest of ideas.


Purpose has been a buzzword in our industry for some time, but now its role couldn’t be more important. Now, more than ever, marketing is being put on the spot, we need to focus on what best serves our customers, not what’s the easiest thing to do or the most lucrative. Customers will not forget how brands treated them and made them feel in these difficult times – we have to show kindness and do the right thing.

Look forward

We all need something to strive for and the most important role for us as leaders is to give our teams the dream. We’ve already learned so much from this crisis – it’s time to use our learnings to our advantage, to rethink and reinvent, and we will come out stronger.

I am a big believer that when we all act together, we can vastly improve the wellbeing of each other and of our planet. Towards the end of last year, we decided our theme for 2020 would be ‘Braver Together’. Who knew then that this would be so relevant just a few short months later.

It’s time to visualise our world after COVID-19. What do you want your story to be? I know what I want mine to be and I plan to make it happen, and together, have a bigger impact.