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Is marketing shifting to a post-modern era? | B2B Marketing

Post-modern marketing will blend a foundation of data and segmentation with a renaissance in intuitive ideas and experiences, says Tom Stein

Over the past decade or so, B2B brands and agencies have widely adopted moden marketing. Oracle describes this as “the paradigm of inbound marketing programmes driven by digital channels, served by multiple touches, measured by sophisticated technologies – and where data analysis is king.” While modern marketing has served us well, the adoption of its approaches and underlying technologies is nearly ubiquitous. So, we continually challenge ourselves to think ahead: what’s next?

As we all know, modern marketing is still a work in progress. We’re still figuring it all out. We’re still putting all the pieces together. We’re making it work in the real world, and transforming our organisations (and careers) in the process. But even as we do this – and this is our culminating belief – we are turning another page.

We are moving now to the ‘post-modern’ phase of marketing.

Our belief at Stein IAS is that, as B2B marketers have expanded their toolsets and increased their mastery of strategic insights and digital interactions, our confidence in what’s possible – in what we can deliver – has grown by leaps and bounds. We’re now seeing this confidence come bursting through in connected experiences that are powerfully emotional and intensely useful. In all the forms they take, these experiences deliver tremendous value to individuals and organisations. This is the essence of post-modern marketing.

That’s not to say this new era is a rejection of modern marketing. Modern marketing is a good thing. It’s a great thing. As an industry we have grown greatly as a result of it.

Post-modern marketing is more a re-balancing. It carries forward the best of preceding eras into this new stage. We joke that it’s ‘Spock plus Kirk’. Pre-modern was emotional. Modern was rational. Post-modern is both. It’s the foundational frameworks of data, segmentation, implicit and explicit triggers, but painted with the brilliant brushstrokes of a renaissance in intuitive ideas and mind-blowing experiences.

Hear more from Tom in person at

B2B Marketing Ignite 2018. 

He will be presenting ‘the rise, fall and re-birth of marketing technology’ on our keynote Transformation stage.

Check out the Ignite 2018 Transformation stage

“We need to call on the mad men and women within us, while equally tapping into the mad scientists we’ve all become”

Daniel Kahneman, a world-renowned psychologist and author who won a Nobel Prize for economic science, wrote: “We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.”

As much as our agency values the technology-infused power of modern marketing, we think a new era is upon us. One in which the ‘feeling machines’ regain prominence, and come into balance with the ‘thinking machines’. Intuition plus technology. Boldness and experimentation underpinned by data.

It’s why, at Stein IAS, we’ve launched MiX, an acronym for Most Important Experiences. It’s a first-of-its-kind initiative among B2B agencies to bring together cross-functional teams – including design, content, UX, programming and technology – in order to leverage existing and emerging technologies to create the breakthrough customer experiences.

Some say we are in the experience economy, where experience is the ultimate differentiator. Stein IAS agrees. And, through MiX, we’re fundamentally evolving and re-imagining how we apply big, long ideas and connected experiences at every touchpoint in the buyer journey.

Indeed, to break through today, we need to be modern – and we need to be more. We need to call on the mad men and women within us, while equally tapping into the mad scientists we’ve all become. At once, we’ve got to be alchemists and quants. One or the other was a choice you could make in the modern marketing era. We are post that now.

We have entered a post-modern marketing era – and an exciting era it promises to be. Our big question is: who’s ready to join us on the post-modern journey?

B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report 2017

This piece was originally published in the 

B2B Agencies Benchmarking Report 2017


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  • Top 75 UK B2B agencies
  • Top 40 global B2B agencies
  • Top 20 fastest-growing UK B2B agencies
  • Top 20 B2B PR agencies.​

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