It is a very exciting and challenging time to be a marketer, but it isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who refuse to learn new tricks. Evolution is not kind to the timid. Marketers today have a choice: get buried in the dust, or learn to thrive.
If you’ve been a marketer for more than 10 years you’ve seen a breath-taking amount of change. If you’ve been in the business only since about 2002, you’ve seen a lot of change too.
Consider all the new terms for marketers that have surfaced: Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Revenue Marketer, Marketing Technologist, Engagement Officer, Demand Generation Director, Social Media Specialist, Search Specialist, Digital Marketing Director and Marketing Operations Manager. I believe six of those nine titles didn’t existed 5 years ago. Two titles, Chief Revenue Marketer and Marketing Technologist, have only joined the vernacular in the past 24 months.
To appreciate just how much the marketing profession can change over time, let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane. It used to be so simple.
I love the hit TV series, Mad Men. I like seeing what the advertising business was like in the 1950’s. Simple. It was the same model that I stepped into 20 years later as an eager, long-haired grad with an advertising degree. I still think a gray Hart Schaffner Marx suit with white shirt and black wingtip shoes is a great look.
Somewhere in the 1980’s direct marketing concepts started to make inroads in B2B companies. New job titles surfaced, such as, Database Marketing Manager and Direct Marketing Manager. I recall reading a book back then called, Customer Engineering. It revealed to me the modeling, measurement and predictability of direct marketing. It changed the way I viewed marketing and my role as a marketer. I began to create plans and campaigns that drove sales in a measurable way.
At about the same time I read Geoffrey Moore’s, Crossing the Chasm (yes, the book is that old). Moore’s seminal book made me view the customer and customer behavior in an entirely different light.
In the 1990’s I learned to integrate and embrace call centers for pre-qualifying prospects and providing warmer leads to the sales department. This was also the time I built a bridge between my marketing team and the sales department. It wasn’t called sales and marketing alignment back then. It was called, this is how you achieve your bonus and keep your job.
Somewhere in the tech bubble of the late 1990’s and into 2000, marketers lost their way. Looking back I recall being under tremendous pressure from VCs to build brand awareness and get “eyeballs” to the website. It was all about how big and important you could make your company appear leading up to an IPO. Forget about the customer, we were asked to help build a house of cards.
Then throughout 2001 and 2002 the house of cards collapsed. It wasn’t pretty, but coming out of that downturn revenue and the customer regained their rightful focus for investors and business management.
With revenue back on center stage the challenge to marketers was clear, “Prove that what you are doing is driving revenue.” Many marketers panicked. They couldn’t do it. They knew little more than how to build awareness and provide unqualified leads to Sales..
About 2005 marketers began to learn how to use the Web and email for cost effective lead generation and direct sales. This required learning new skills for search marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and how to write compelling email offers. Finally, marketers had some of the tools they needed to impact the purchase decision and generate performance metrics to show to top management.
Fast forward to 2011, or more accurately switch to warp speed, Scotty. What skills are required for marketers to handle their revenue responsibilities today? A post on Software Advice gets to the heart of the matter. Here are the main areas for skill development from the post, New Skills Needed to Address Marketing Gap
- Analytics and metrics: Marketers must now be able to measure campaign performance; track conversions along the sales funnel and make accurate forecasts.
- Lead management strategy: Marketers have to work with sales to define the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Then, they must develop a process that will best lead the buyer down that path.
- Content marketing: Relevant content is the key to engaging the buyer and getting them interested. Marketers have to be able to build a content strategy around their buyer’s journey
- Social media: More buyers are getting social, providing a viable medium for engagement. Being successful with social requires thought, strategy, content and consistent execution.
The first two skills involve data analysis and the ability to identify actionable information in gigabits of data. The marketing department has to have ready access to good data and a data geek.
There is no better source for learning about the buyer’s journey and lead management strategy than MathMarketing’s Funnel Academy (advanced B2B marketing curriculum). The newly formed Marketing Automation Institute is offering training for marketers who want to take their game to the next level. Other great sources of knowledge that I depend on regularly include MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa and Marketing Experiments, to mention a few. Even conferences, such as DemandCon, can play an important role in your professional development plan.
The pace of change for marketers will only accelerate if history is any indication. To thrive in this exciting new world, be very intentional, and schedule serious training for yourself and your team at least twice a year.