Marketing is changing and evolving at a rapid pace. To keep up, chief marketing officers (CMOs) need to consistently look into their crystal ball to keep their companies in the spotlight—and ahead of the competition.

Here are five major changes taking shape in 2012 that only a CMO willing to commit career suicide would ignore.

1. A Return to Strategy

The marketing world has been abuzz about every possible digital marketing tactic in the book, including mobile couponing, augmented reality, and real-time bidding by digital media exchanges. Many CMOs become entranced by those bright and shiny digital marketing options. However, the smartest CMOs understand that tactics come and go, and those CMOs are going to be the ones leading a movement back to strategy.

Focus on the right strategy, and you'll develop a winning marketing formula. Look at successful companies such as Apple, Procter & Gamble, and Nordstrom. Their clear strategies get real business results—regardless of the tactics they employ at any given moment.

One national food brand invested in every imaginable new marketing tactic to drive traffic to its website. However, the site experience was so out of sync with what site visitors wanted that they never returned. (Analytics showed a dismal 1:1 visit-to-visitor ratio for the brand's site.) Consequently, the company's marketing campaigns delivered a bad brand experience, doing more damage than good. Ironically, as the company implemented more tactics, it did more damage.

Instead, the food brand needed to thrill customers and prospects by showing—on its site, in its ads, and at the supermarket—how it helped them achieve their goals. And that starts with a clear strategy. Follow the lead of companies like Apple: Unlock what thrills your customers, and your tactics will be much more effective.

2. Channel Integration

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Tom Shapiro

Tom Shapiro is the CEO of Stratabeat, a branding and marketing agency. He is also the author of Rethink Your Marketing: 7 Strategies to Unleash Revenue Growth.

Twitter: @tomshapiro

LinkedIn: Tom Shapiro