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MARKETING-AS- A-SERVICE SERVICE: GIVING AGE-OLD MARKETING A FACELIFT

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Gone are the days when we would walk down the road or send word to our neighbourhood electrician or plumber to attend to a faulty wire or a messy leak. This wasn’t strange at all then considering our familiarity towards them. We knew the servicemen, they knew us, and we never thought of another resource while they were around. The workmen knew our family history and the history of repairs at home at that! Their services were not measured in minutes or hours but by the end outcome. Evidently, we lived in simpler times with limited but precise choices. Today, we have progressed to clicking a few buttons, and our handyman is at our doorstep at the specified date and time with his complete kit, only to service what we have registered as a complaint. No repairing but replacements, because the quality of his service is now measured in performance and time. The accountability lies with his company (and not him). The worst (best) part? We do not even know his name! It is his service that matters, and probably the only experience that counts.

In the name of living faster and smarter, technology has played a significant buff. It came into being and dominated our lives with such swiftness that not only have we become dependent on it, but also our survival in its absence is nothing short of a discomfort that is uncalled for. Over time, lifestyle changes, shifts in macroeconomics, and technology have manifested the mantra of easy-and- lazy living by connecting us to a treasure trove of online information and services, just a click away. As customers, our need for control and instant gratification gained the spotlight while we were buried in welcoming the phenomenon of digital consumerism with such wide-open arms that the Internet is almost our shadow today.

To compete and stay successful in this digital age, businesses needed to shed flab and operate with more agility and efficiency. Business leaders were going back to their drawing boards redrafting their sales and marketing strategies. The emergence of cloud-based technology was a lifeline from heaven given this could mobilise and demobilise services as and when needed. This modular, scalable and consumption-based model which goes by the name of as-a- Service, kindled heat in the market by expanding its impression to almost all businesses. The traditional on-premise enterprise software is getting replaced with cloud based applications where you only pay for services you use. For example, with Amazon Web Services, not only can you host your website, but also manage your web-based applications using AWS services without having to invest in resources or infrastructure while enjoying the flexibility, scalability, and low cost associated with this pay-per- use model. Significant business horizontals have also glued the as-a- Service model into their operations, benefitting from the knowledge and experience of multiple providers, assembling the combination of solutions appropriate to the desired business and performance outcomes. The elucidation of this subject only brings us to discuss the elephant in the room. Except, there is none. Because now, services like administration, facility management, finance and payroll, and even marketing services are managed using the Software-as- a- Service (SaaS) model.

Marketing-as- a-Service (MaaS), a SaaS model, is primarily an extension of marketing automation software provided by technology vendors such as Eloqua, Aprimo, Neolane, Silverpop, Sitecore, Pardot, Unica and others. For instance, with Salesforce Pardot, you can subscribe to a library of ready email templates that will help you deliver precise information to the appropriate audience. Without having to invest in your creative teams. Such automation tools can also introduce and optimise the other prerequisite marketing tactics like content marketing, inbound marketing, social media, search engine optimisation amongst others, without requiring either the expertise or technological grasp on your part. This model works well when you want to be in control of your marketing destiny, and when there is limited integration of sales and marketing processes for performing closed loop analysis. Make no mistake; the MaaS technology only serves as an equaliser to reach your marketing goal faster. It does not guarantee end-to- end marketing cover; an operation that still requires you to understand the fundamentals of driving a marketing strategy and plan.

Enter the world of Marketing-as- a-Service- Service or MaaS-S. It may so happen that marketing is not your enterprise’s core. Your marketing team is overworked and understaffed. Or, you soon come to realise that your marketing expertise is finite to the point of not covering your future needs. In such cases, bundling of MaaS technology and MaaS Services can be your chosen way out. With MaaS-S, you can outsource expert marketing services to assemble your marketing components on demand. So, if you are thinking, where must you begin to define the market penetration strategy for your new product, get in the experts. Let them bring in the strategy, the knowledge, the technology and the services for you to choose from. The need of the hour, if one were to travel back to base, is to define the nucleus of your enterprise — your organisation’s in-house skills vs. those that are ‘non-core’ and can be conveniently hired, rented or purchased. Given a chance, MaaS-S and Marketing Outsourcing can go hand-in- hand. Just like a well-oiled machine. More on it in my next blog.

With this, one can discern a conclusion in the horizon on the ever-flaming debate of Marketing: An Art or A Science? For, coupling MaaS and MaaS-S settles the fact that marketing can be a concocted blend of both. An art that is crutched with science.

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