The profession of marketing is being disrupted to levels not seen in decades…maybe ever. As with many professions and industries, technology is a key driver of that disruption, and obviously it is not just happening in marketing. Robots and automation are replacing engineers, manufacturing workers, and even some white-collar jobs like surgeons, lawyers, and financial analysts. A 2013 report published by Oxford University stated that as many as 47% of U.S. jobs could be taken over by computers or automation by 2033. The good news is that there are ways to insulate yourself and your profession from technology disruption. Skills that include cleverness, negotiation, human interraction, and strategy development are all insulators from disruption.
So with that in mind, here are some essential skills that today’s marketing strategists need to develop:
- Embrace Technology
- Understand C-Level Strategy
- Master Customer Buying Process
- Produce ROI
1. Embrace Technology
Simply understanding or accepting the role that technology is playing in marketing is not enough. For professionals in our chosen field to thrive, we must embrace it. That means learning, understanding, harnessing and leveraging it on behalf of our companies and/or our clients. When Google was founded in 1998, little did we know that Brin and Page would be at the foundation of marketing strategy a decade later. If you don’t, however, completely understand and embrace the role search and SEO plays in the marketing strategy of your firm, you are already way behind. In addition, accepting mobile technology and how ubiquitous it has become in everyone’s daily routine should be critical to how you build your website and make it responsive to consumer habits.
2. Understand C-Level Strategy
The quicker you understand that marketing is fast becoming a critical part of any company’s strategy in today’s environment, the more likely you are to survive in your profession. Many CEOs don’t understand or appreciate the important role that Chief Marketing Officers play in their company but that is changing quickly. In research just published by Forrester, CMOs roles in companies are becoming as vital as any other chief executive – CFO, CTO, Head of Sales, R&D – in organizations, regardless of whether the company’s core business is B2B or B2C. In addition, a marketing strategist’s responsibility now includes not only reaching key prospects, but it includes shaping and explaining core business strategies and the problems they solve for customers across the spectrum. So they better understand what the CEO is thinking when making key strategic decisions.
3. Master Customer Buying Process
Now more than ever, Marketing is linked and responsible for a larger portion of the firm’s sales process and the buyer’s journey through that sales process. In nearly every single industry sector, buyer’s are arming themselves with more information and are entering the purchasing decision much further along before they reach out to a sales person or accept a meeting with one. This shift has forced marketing strategists to become much better at developing content that appeals to all of their target customers at various stages of their buying process. In addition, we must identify and understand the problems our customers are facing from their perspective, not ours. This mastery is at the heart of buyer personas, content marketing and inbound marketing.
4. Produce ROI
This massive shift and disruption has made it even harder to justify investments in new marketing tactics, technology, and approaches. Now more than ever, showing a true return on marketing investment dollars is critical. The good news, however, is that technology is allowing us to do it better because we are measuring activity and tracking the engagement of prospects throughout their decision making like never before. Marketing and advertising used to be based on intrusion, or distracting someone from what they were doing – reading, driving, listening, enjoying – with an advertisement for a product or service. While that still happens, the shift is much more towards educating buyers about how a product or service solves a problem they are faced with. That education is the heart of the inbound marketing approach, and research has shown that inbound leads cost 61% lessthan leads generated by conventional outbound means. That is ROI.
So marketing strategists have a choice – they can continue to do the same things they have been doing for decades and delude themselves into thinking that somehow the results will improve. Some call that the definition of insanity. Or they can adapt, learn and develop these skills and be an essential part of their organization and a trusted advisor to their clients.