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Sometimes, the world changes in ways that obsolete everything that came before. Scientists and mathematicians coined the term “singularity” for change of that magnitude; famously disruptive Silicon Valley adopted it immediately. The only way to prosper in the aftermath of a singularity is to re-imagine everything from the ground up – almost as if the past never existed.

Digital transformation – the rise of the internet and digital technology, the impact of IoT and AI, the role of connected customer experience as differentiator, and the way people, society and businesses are morphing in response – is just such a singularity. IDC says businesses will spend $1.25 trillion on digital transformation, worldwide, in 2019, climbing to $2 trillion in 2022.1 Digital transformation has become synonymous with business transformation.

 With digital business transformation, of course, comes digital marketing transformation. But wait … didn’t marketing ‘go digital’ first? Hasn’t it already digitally transformed? Isn’t that why eMarketer predicts digital media spend will grow to 52% of overall spend by 2021?3 Isn’t that why Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019 tells us that 29% of global marketing budgets for companies with $500 million or more in revenue already goes for digital marketing technologies (martech)?3 And that spend is itself a sizable hill of beans, as other researchers point out that global martech spending reached roughly $100 billion in 2018.4 

 But the hard fact is, no! In both cases – digital business transformation and digital marketing transformation – most organizations have barely scratched the surface. What many have done to date is apply digital technologies to pre-digital strategies and tactics. There is much, much more transformational work to be done before Post-Modern Marketing and Post-Modern Business become mainstream.

Going beyond ‘surface-scratching’ while digital technologies are still evolving so rapidly – and people’s behavior and expectations are changing so quickly – is a tremendous post-modern challenge. Most businesses attempting digital transformation are failing at it: eight or nine out of 10, depending on which articles or research reports you read.5,6 There are hundreds of articles explaining why, citing things like resistance to change, being unaware of the needed foundational shift in how people work and collaborate, the challenge of wholesale cultural change, failure to align technology with business goals, all the way down to the quality of an organization’s data.

Bottom line: in addition to all the new technologies and behaviors, digital business transformation – and digital marketing transformation – requires a level of strategic, operational and process rigor unlike anything organizations historically had to do to be successful. Paradoxically, with this requisite rigor comes the need for humans and organizations to evolve – to crave change rather than resist it. Both must be achieved before you can reliably and repeatably build communities of shared purpose or create “Age of Wow!” experiences.

Thus, Post-Modern Marketing demands that marketers look at digital in a more fundamental and foundational way. It demands stronger results, measurable return-on-investment, and greater efficiency and scalability. It requires connecting and personalizing the customer experience. And, importantly, it means bringing together marketing “science” – all that still-advancing technology – with marketing “art” – creativity that touches human souls – to transform go-to-market approaches. It’s the necessary reinvention of marketing that helps lead digital businesses to post-singularity prosperity.

You can be brand-driven and purpose-driven and you can tell a great story. But if that doesn’t translate into revenue, you’re sunk. Or, you can do all of the demand gen in the world, but if you can’t create a compelling, unique, differentiated story, you’re sunk

Toni Clayton-Hine, CMO, EY Americas

Mapping the Pathways to Digital Marketing Transformation

For the authors of this book, this is not new. We have helped brands transition through the constantly changing digital- and tech-enabled landscape of the past 20+ years, fusing Modern Marketing technologies with bold, intuitive and emotionally driven creative and content experiences that harken back to marketing’s pre-modern “Mad Men” roots. Thus, fusion has always been at the heart of our Post-Modern Marketing thesis.

Out of all that work and client experience emerged the digital marketing transformation framework (DMTF). Our DMTF is a roadmap to help you connect all the necessary digital marketing transformation dots…to connect strategy to creativity to content to the right marketing technologies and frameworks. Most importantly, to connect brand and demand in an airtight “interlock” recognizing that in a digital, customer-experience-driven world, brand and demand must be seamlessly, holistically integrated. As Toni Clayton-Hine, the tech industry marketing veteran currently CMO of EY Americas, puts it: “You can be brand-driven and purpose-driven and you can tell a great story. But if that doesn’t translate into revenue, you’re sunk. Or, you can do all of the demand gen in the world, but if you can't create a compelling, unique, differentiated story, you’re sunk.”

Digital marketing transformation in general, and the brand-demand interlock in particular, can only be achieved through a broad range of integrated competencies: strategic insights, digital interactions and creative and content inventions combined with martech/adtech and data/analytics proficiency – all delivered reliably and at scale. The DMTF enables marketing organizations to achieve both through a staged roadmap that is defined and aligned against business and marketing strategy, as well as an organization’s current levels of digital marketing maturity and competency.

Cutting to the Chase: Replacing Complexity with Actionability and Impact

As with an actual roadmap, the DMTF starts with a destination (the business and marketing strategic future you envision) and a starting point (your current state of digital Post-Modern Marketing maturity).

“You have to start with your business and marketing vision, of course, because you have to have a very clear idea of where you want to go,” says Marc Keating, Stein IAS’ Chief Innovation Officer and the primary driver behind the DMTF. “You have to assess what you’re trying to do at the business level, and what are the major fundamental marketing strategies and goals to achieve that business strategy. But then, you must get very quickly to the first couple of turns – the transformations you can effect today that put you on the right path to your ultimate vision.”

DMTF utilizes an extraordinary mapping tool to identify those first few turns (as well as subsequent turns): an ever-evolving repository of more than 100 use cases. Rather than evaluate martech for martech’s sake or individual components of the tech stack in isolation, these use cases compel marketers to start with their desired end game and then help them to define the “right path” through the multitude of available tactics and technologies to arrive at their business and marketing vision. “The use cases define what the future should look like, what the drivers are for change, and the steps you need to take to deliver against your prioritized set of use cases,” Keating explains.



The DMTF use cases are organized into four primary strategic buckets: Reach & Attract, Engage & Inspire, Nurture & Convert, Analyze & Optimize. Each use case requires strategies and tactics, on one side, and martech tools and technologies, on the other side. The use case repository becomes the central DMTF tool that helps marketing organizations zero in on, and refine, their vision and goals; assess their current state; and chart their roadmap from current state to future marketing vision.

More deeply, the DMTF includes multiple tools that enable marketing organizations to:

  • Assess each use case’s strategic importance to the team’s long-term vision and goals;
  • Collaboratively assess the team’s maturity level in the context of each use case;
  • Connect use cases and goals directly to relevant marketing technologies;
  • Identify accountable people and process dependencies;
  • Develop plans and timeframes to activate and deliver against key use cases.

In short, the DMTF tools identify for a marketing team all the elements required to translate strategic vision into immediate actions.

In the above figure, we’ve shown how the DMTF surfaces a set of use cases. We chose “build a demand engine” as the strategy, and highlighted the most important use cases to fulfill the strategy. Relevant technologies are included where appropriate

When this work is completed for all of a given organization’s prioritized strategies, the result is a three-year roadmap that encapsulates a summary blueprint of the entire digital marketing transformation process. Each chosen use case is charted on the three-year timeline with its own prioritization and relevant technologies.

In the context of a DMTF exercise, the three “years” can be thought of more colloquially as digital marketing transformation actions in three stages: today, tomorrow, and the near future.


“With these tools, we’re helping marketing teams create digital transformation roadmaps which the team can agree on as a single vision, a single strategy,” says Keating. “We can then align the relevant technologies that can power the team’s strategy, build out the business case to get buy in, build the budget, and activate the strategy in place of or right alongside their current marketing program.”

The Road to Post-Modern Marketing Nirvana

The goal of all these strategies, tactics and frameworks embedded in DMTF is a simple one: extraordinary customer experience.

 What we envision truly is extraordinary – by today’s standards. Today, data is spotty, channels aren’t well integrated, immersive experience technologies have barely emerged, and demand is not joined up with brand. That last is a particular concern of Stein IAS Chairman and Chief Client Officer Tom Stein, who insists that, “There needs to be a connected customer experience from brand narratives and awareness all the way through to digitally enabled, granular demand-gen marketing. In Post-Modern Marketing, there really needs to be a brand-demand interlock.”

 Marketing organizations with the will and rigor to navigate digital transformation roadmaps like the DMTF outlined here will begin to leave the rest behind. The experiences they offer to customers will become “intelligent,” powered by intuitive creative that touches peoples’ souls and the next round of martech just beginning to be deployed, like AI/machine learning, voice-activated interactions, drones, beacons, IoT, cognitive clouds, connected cars, wearables … the list goes on, and always will.

 “The journey we talk about is how we’ve gone from traditional marketing to blended traditional/digital marketing to Modern Marketing, which has been around for the last 12 or 13 years as a more purely digital concept,” says Keating. “Now, we’re moving to Post-Modern Marketing, which requires full digital transformation – but also the re-connection of digital marketing to the emotional and iconic appeal of the ‘Mad Men.’ And that’s precisely the paradox that gives this book its name.”

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