Lesson # 1: Marketing in a Digital World

Welcome to my exclusive mini course 5 Strategies for Better Marketing in a Digital World!

To start this mini course, I want to introduce you to Keith Weed, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever and, more importantly, the World’s Most Influential CMO.

Keith wasn't named the World’s Most Influential CMO by Forbes because he has an eye-popping résumé (he doesn’t), or a college degree from the most prestigious marketing school. (He studied engineering at the University of Liverpool.) Weed was crowned with this distinction because he takes a vastly different, more forward-thinking approach to marketing than most people.

“We are no longer doing digital marketing,” Weed often says, “but marketing in a digital world.”

At the Festival of Marketing in 2016, Weed called out the “middle, lost generation in marketing” — people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are “bluffing” as digital marketers.

“It’s like listening to the radio and then thinking you can make a good television ad,” he said. “There’s a new generation of digital marketers out there who are digital natives and they’re coming in — they’re rising and they’re going to take over, so remaining in that lost middle generation of bluffing digital marketer is not a good place to be.”

This isn’t a scare tactic; it’s a fast-changing reality that virtuously rewards companies which surround themselves with marketing mavens who possess real knowledge and skills for this digital world, while taking to the time to educate most everyone in their company about modern-day marketing as well.

At the same time, it hurts companies — of all sizes and business models — that rely on “bluffers” to manage their marketing, or companies that simply do virtually nothing at all, or that don't have a legitimate marketing strategy for the digital world, even as the world becomes more digital by the day.

In other words, there's a major difference between doing digital marketing, and marketing in a digital world. Digital marketing means your online and offline marketing likely live in silos, which only produces exponentially more marketing waste (of time, money and resources).

Marketing in a digital world, on the other hand, means your online and offline marketing are in sync with each other, ultimately producing:

  1. Better business results (ROI, customer acquisition and retention, word-of-mouth, loyalty)
  2. Fewer marketing expenditures (marketing in a digital world is more cost-efficient)
  3. Scalable impact (if it's important to you and/or your company)


Vince Lombardi, the Hall of Fame NFL coach, used to say: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

I say: Digital isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

And I say it looking into the next decade, based on data from the past one.

In 2008, the average U.S. adult spent 2 hours and 40 minutes consuming digital media. Every year since then saw an upswing in digital media consumption, topping out at 5 hours and 50 minutes in 2017. eMarketer estimates that non-voice time spent per day just on smartphones will rise to 2 hours and 42 minutes by 2019.

With this in mind, I implore you to view and act upon every marketing strategy, tactic, insight and recommendation through the digital lens. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but by and large: This is how 9 businesses out of 10 will thrive in our digital world.