Times, they are a-Changin’ sang Bob Dylan. Marketers around the world should all be singing the refrain. Change is not new for marketing, of course. In fact, change is a constant. But there is an additional force of change in the air and few marketers have fully come to terms with what this looks like. That change is commercial marketing.

Using the word ‘commercial’ and suggesting that this is something new that marketing needs to get to grips with is probably a bit like putting a petrol canister too close to a bonfire. However, to throw sand on the situation up front, we are not suggesting that marketers have lacked commerciality or not behaved commercially. Instead, what we are suggesting is that the requirements of the business for commercial marketing are becoming more and more prevalent and this is a great thing for marketing.

Why is it so good? It’s good because it is a recognition by the CEO and board that marketing is commercially important and that they want more. The importance of marketing increases as it cements its role as the customer champion and ambassador of customer-centricity. However, to achieve this, the type of marketing a business does will almost certainly have to shift.

At the moment, most companies’ marketing is dominated by creative and brand marketing, which reflects requirements to date. Over the past two decades, technical marketing has entered the scene, but often this has been a disconnected component of the marketing function or not sat within marketing at all. This has often left CRM and customer experience (CX) as a disjointed silo, although both are dealing with the same customers and prospects. Today, such an approach does not simply look anachronistic but is actually damaging any business that cannot rectify the situation.

Therefore, most marketers are only now facing up to the challenges of using data as a core component of their marketing efforts. In many respects, all the debate about Big Data within marketing is a smokescreen for using any data correctly within marketing.

However, the breaking down of customer communications silos, the drive towards customer-centricity and the need to track tangible commercial returns from customer engagement are the key drivers behind commercial marketing. The emphasis moving forward will be on how marketing activities feed the rest of the business with tangible commercial results. That is at the heart of commercial marketing.

All marketing activities in the new model, above the line and below the line, play a defined role in the audience’s progression towards the goal within the structured journey. This is an important shift in marketing. It means that it delivers the activities and campaigns within a defined commercial framework, which is the essence of what we mean by commercial marketing.