Rocking quite the acronym with this one – M2M2B2B2C2C!

So before we get too far into this and explore the why, a quick breakdown on the what...

  • M2M | Machine to Machine
  • M2B | Machine to Business
  • B2B | Business to Business
  • B2C | Business to Consumer
  • C2C | Consumer to Consumer

I get it.   There is a lot to unpack with the above.  But here we are.

We are not quite here yet actually, but we are close enough .  We can see little bursts coming through the horizon and soon they will materialize into a new reality.   M2M Marketing will become a real thing.  Are we ready?  Are you ready?

Likely, over time, many of the M’s will take on ‘social’ attributes because frankly they will need to in order to communicate with one another.  This idea that machines will just ‘get’ one another on the face of it seems very unlikely.  Machines will need to interpret other machine.  And ultimately machines will need to influence decision making of other machine.  And this is where M2M Marketing will take hold.

Will it look different?  Yes.

Will it be transparent?  Maybe to other machines, but likely for people not so much.

Will it be public?  In some cases yes, but likely in many cases not to much.  Kind of like today…

And many B’s will own many M’s, so B’s will have to adjust both with how they manage M’s, and also how they interact with C’s.

C’s will have both a field day and many chaos moments – the diversity of consumer choice will be chaotic, potentially highly personalized and likely schizophrenic.

And in this massive sea of change, new rules will emerge.  And so will an abundance of new opportunity.

A while back (2016 to be exact!)  I wrote about connected marketing – the article is still relevant, and if you haven’t read it yet perhaps you should.  But if you are short on time, I’ll recap – more and more machines with more and more communication channels.

Connected Marketing Opportunity HorizonAnd going a bit further, let’s really start to get into the marketing attributes M2M2B2B2C2C.  And more so back to a statement above – are you ready?

M2M2B2B2C2C Marketing Roles

In anticipation of this wild wacky future world, a few key roles that will take on some new meaning across the marketing landscape…

Machine Learning – this will of course be a big one.  Marketing is just starting down this path (new enhanced funnels, predictive marketing models etc.) With M2M, machines talking to other machines, the amount of data will take on exponential dimension.  And with all this data there will of course be a push for meaning.  More meaning than a human could ever discern with any degree of consistency and value.  So… enter machine learning that will be concentrated on meaning in a more human centric way.

Add a layer of complexity into this where different machines will value meaning differently and then try to algebra your way into how that all plays into B2B2C and well you get it – the math starts to get complicated.  Add additional layers into this such as taste, trends, inventory and seasonality that math is even more complex.  And then add in the complexity of our fellow C’s (people are complicated) as well as black swan events (one day hopefully we’ll be able to read about the 2020 global pandemic as something in the history books…) so the ability to apply machine learning to market meaning will be a big deal.  Machines that learn this will have a decisive advantage.

Data Science – well, see the above.  The data lake will get really full really fast.  Hopefully our friends over in the Moore’s Law camp will be able to keep up.

Engineers – Somewhere along the way hardware and software engineers will need to come together to expand their field to include machine emotions (yep, as crazy as it sounds, machine emotions will be a thing.)  Don’t think of it in terms of tears and smile, but again, if machines are expected to communicate with one another, we’ll need to develop coping mechanisms for machines to field a range of opportunity.  We all remember high school well – so now think about what the ‘machine high school cafeteria’ might look like and try to walk through that maze of robotic hormones!

Engineers – Yep, I know I just said that one, but these are different engineers – these engineers will be more like architects, helping to lay the groundwork and rules from which these machines will design meaning.  That is of course until we no longer need these engineers now that the machines become our technology groundskeepers (sorry engineers…)

Creatives – Creativity will have all kinds of new avenues.  This is where C’s working both for B’s and also as independent C’s really shine.  And oh yeah… it turns out machines can be creative too (sorry creatives…)

Marketing Nerds – Again, a place for C’s to really flourish within B’s.

Marketing Talent – You didn’t really think I was going to seed this entire space to marketing nerds did you?  Of course not!  In fact as this entire M2M2B2B2C2C this is likely where we are going to see an abundance of opportunity for job creation.  More and more B’s will see more and more connected marketing opportunities, and yes some will scale to M2M, but a ton of opportunity will also live in that last leg of the chain – specifically the 2C part.  The seat at the table for marketers will very much be there.

And finally, let’s also not forget to include machines in this mix – particularly machines that have highly developed marketing sensibilities – you didn’t actually think we were going to empower every machine with an ability to discern meaning did you?  The reality is likely there will be machine departments, with some machines focused on production, others on quality, cost and of course marketing.  For those working at larger companies this might look a little familiar…

M2M2B2B2C2C with machines and robots getting a seat at the table

Photo by Romain HUNEAU on Unsplash

M2M2B2B2C2C Skills

Moving past the roles, let’s now pivot to the skills needed to dominate this new, not yet existing marketing space…

Some of this will look familiar.  Some new.  And some nuanced.  So here goes.

Creativity.  While I know it is tempting to try to boil marketing down to a concrete science, the reality is with so many people with so many tastes, creativity will always be a key skill.  Creativity might look and feel different but it will still be there.

Order of One Marketing Customization.  This is possibly one of the more controversial skills, but generally I see some trends that emerge from industry and then continue to scale.  Mass customization is one of them, and certainly when we are talking about marketing, that would be the ability to truly customize a moment all the time.  It’s one thing when we are talking about customized marketing for a product that costs tens of thousands of dollars, but how about customized marketing for a bottle of coke?  Well, this will be a real skill and a real trick.  And with the abundance of machines creating an abundance of marketing touch points (review the chart above…), and especially with a ton of smart machines at the ready, the ability to customize could very well be the difference.  (BTW I think I need to write more about this…)

Analytics is one of these spaces that will look the same (but bigger) but it will also take on new dimensions.  Are we going to measure machines in terms of production, or in terms of outcomes?  And with the creation of increasingly complex chains of influence, outcomes might become more and more tricky – particularly if we are looking at massive exchanges where a range of third party data might be available.  In any event, the skill of measurement will only continue to have more and more value and the stakes get higher and higher.  Likely machines will have a role here too.

Computer programming will be another big space for M2M2B2B2C2C marketing. Again, this will be somewhat the same and also radically different.  Are we programming the machine to perform a specific function, or is the function a cause that is driven by an outcome?

Intent is one of the spaces that is particularly hot in today’s B2B Marketing landscape.  Still early days with intent and it is primarily focused on B2B, but at some point intent will start to normalize and will become a B2C concept (this will be driven by cost – todays Intent landscape is still relatively expensive.)  And going beyond B2C, when we can jump to M2C suddenly we’ll see intent marketing at hyper-scale.  Some of today’s early evangelists could very well be tomorrow’s M2M2B2B2C2C marketing leaders.

Machine whisperers.  Okay, even I can admit this one is a little bit nutty, but the truth is there will be a human skill set needed for humans to be able to convey to other humans what in the world machines are doing when they are talking with other machines.

Deep thinkers and ethicists.  This will be a complex and dynamic space.  The ability to misbehave will be immense.  And given the high stakes, the temptation to be a bad actor will be huge.  Rules will need to be in place.  As these rules prove to be lacking, new rules will need to be introduced.  And as new avenues emerge, the industry at large will need to adjust.  And yes, we’ll also need real people (C’s) to help teach our smart machines how to behave.

Data complexity with M2M2B2B2C2C Marketing

As we are getting close to the end of this post, I’d be remiss where I not to acknowledge some data considerations.

In the world of today (as in right now) marketing is made of a series of data repositories.  Some data is first party (meaning it is your data coming from your properties.)  Some data is third party (meaning it is someone else’s data that you are able to use.)  Some data is oral (meaning that if you work in organization it is passed down – really this isn’t data, but rather something more like shadow data.)  And then there is data that lives on limited ecosystems that are either closed or open (meaning that some companies control this data and then limit the availability based on various factors.)

And when we really get into a world where not only do we have an abundance of smart machines, but we are also confronted with a reality that these machines might need to communicate with one another in ways that they might not simply ‘agree to agree’ with one another, these machines will have the opportunity to access all kinds of data sets.

Think of it this way.

The taxi (an M owned by a B or a C) you (a C) are riding in is driving you to your destination.  Throughout your ride there are companies (B’s) all competing for your interest.  Many of these companies are buying auction data in real time (more B’s, and likely some M’s) as you are being driven down the street to capture your attention.  Some of these companies are also directly communicating with your taxi (the M), while you (the C) are in it, and they are actively trying to exchange relevant data (could be your taste profile, what shows you recently watched, your age, ethnicity, gender etc) with your taxi in order to try to influence the behavior of your taxi while you are riding in it.  In so doing, the M2M marketing the journey will still come back to you (M2M2B2B2C2C), but this journey will become increasingly complex, and it will also move well beyond today’s auction market.

So yes, data will be a very big deal.  And so will privacy.

And yet, here we are…

We still have time.  Smart companies are already on this path, devoting marketing resources to areas like ML, data science and IoT.  It will be wild ride, but I’m confident that the marketers of today will continue to evolve, building on legacy skill sets, leaning into emerging areas and of course to leading their respective organizations into new spaces.

We still have time.  Smart people are already starting to focus here.  And this is where that wonderful ability that we as people have to be insanely creative will really shine.  Think about crazy creative people reversing the model by starting with the and putting out crazy creative machines that will be insanely confusing to other machines!  More like C2M2M2B2B2C2C.  You didn’t think that big businesses where going to have exclusive domain over this space did you?

And finally, we still have time.  And when the time comes I’m confident that machines will proves to be very able and capable marketers as well….

Featured Image by the blowup on Unsplash