Presented by Marketo

We really are living in a “brave new world,” where marketing today is barely recognizable compared to marketing ten or even five years ago. It’s a hyperconnected world where brands are defined by customers, value supersedes volume, and connection at a personal level supplants the mass marketing on which we used to focus our efforts.

Earlier this month, at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit, our theme was The Fearless Marketer. We chose this precisely because brave new worlds such as ours belong to the daring. They belong to those who embrace change, act boldly on their convictions, and understand that the willingness to take risks is what drives innovation.

It is more important than ever for marketers to be fearless because we now curate the customer experience. Our efforts influence the buyer and move them in our company’s direction months, or sometimes years before salespeople even get close. And because today’s buyers make up their minds long before they ever talk to anyone at a vendor company, much less hover over a buy button or a purchase order, it is up to marketers to meet them on their journey.

Fortunately, new ways are developed all the time to connect, influence, and engage with customers at any stage of that journey. More than half of humanity is now connected by what I call the “engagement grid” of social and mobile platforms, apps and devices. The question is how do we tap in to this ever-expanding grid with value, not volume, and with personalized messages, not one-size-fits-all, spam folder-fodder communications? How do we create more meaningful and valuable relationships with people, using technology as our tool to deliver the right messages, at the right time, all the time?

It’s a task well beyond that of traditional marketing, I can tell you that. And it’s a really big “ask.” Today’s marketers are already wearing more hats than we ever thought we would. We are data scientists, analytics experts, and creative whizzes, all on top of our traditional role of being stewards of the brand. How can we also now own the customer experience and take the lead in engaging with the customer at every step?

The answer is by being fearless. Fearlessness empowers marketers to create value and drive revenue, not to mention careers. As my colleague, Marketo CMO Sarah Kennedy put it, “When we are not fearless, we dilute ourselves and our companies.”

To be fearless in marketing today means:

  • Embracing transformative new technologies — Technology provides a platform for fearlessness. Fearless marketers will harness technologies to be more fearless than ever. This includes embracing artificial intelligence, which can consider thousands of connection points to maximize engagement, at scale, and with blinding efficiency. Taking on new technology in a siloed fashion is a non-starter, however. In contrast, an integrated platform approach to MarTech provides a stronger springboard for marketing fearlessness and innovation.
  • Telling bold and engaging stories — Storytelling is still the heart of marketing, but now marketers have the technology to express their organizations’ stories in new and highly personalized ways. Fearless marketers jump at the opportunity to marry storytelling with technology to express the brand at the right time to the right people in the right way.
  • Leading from the front with bold ideas and the data to back them up — Being bold does not mean going rogue. Fearless marketers are not afraid of diving into data to shape and bolster their ideas and convictions and to help them make their case for action. In fact, they seek out opportunities to do so.
  • Building bold marketing teams — Fearless marketing is not a one-person show. Fearless marketing leaders need to surround themselves with teams and colleagues who are not afraid to try, fail, learn, and try again. They need to create space for their people to be intrepid, encourage risk taking, and foster a culture of fearlessness.
  • Creating synergies across the enterprise — From engineering, sales, and support, to finance and fulfillment, fearless marketers are not afraid to unleash the power of collaboration. They understand the stakes around marketing taking ownership of the end-to-end customer journey and create alliances across the company to make it a reality.
  • Fostering trust in your brand — Fearless marketers are committed to making their brand stand for something meaningful and life-enhancing for the customer and worthy of their trust. It’s one of the things that gets bold marketers out of bed and off to work each morning. And make no mistake, it’s a battle that must be waged fearlessly every single day.

So here we are at the tipping point, where value is trumping volume, and personalization at scale is finally overriding mass marketing. Of all the players in a company, marketers have the most opportunity to make a difference today, because no one is better positioned than marketers to drive digital transformation and engage the customer.

Marketers everywhere now need to ask, “How can we unlock our fearlessness and tap into the most exciting and brilliant aspects of being a marketer?”

I had the opportunity to speak with many fearless marketers from Marketo’s inaugural class of Fearless 50, some of the bravest and boldest marketers from around the globe. From these conversations, I’ve distilled several answers to this question, and led off this article with them. They are: embrace change; trust your convictions; and value failure as much as success, as failure is the best teacher.

How will you be fearless in your marketing? It’s a brave new world. And it’s marketing’s day.

To embrace fearlessness in your marketing strategy this year, visit

Steve Lucas is CEO of Marketo.

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