It is a given that Marketing is competitive; you need to be agile and stay up to date with the changes that occur. However, there is a certain level of predictability which existed before now. Marketing practices did evolve but at pace you could keep a firm grasp of. Then the web came along and disrupted everything. Things started spinning fast. Faster than you could go to press, faster than the radio and TV. As a result things got more complex. Our target audience had gone online. The digital natives lived there. The digital immigrants visited a lot and big data knocked on our doors uninvited.
Marketing has suddenly become as much a science as art. Two simultaneous revolutions have caused this. The first is technological advances in platforms that allow marketer to collate, analyze and visualize large and complex data set to effectively gain customer insight. The second is the influx of digital devices and channels- from smart phones to social media- which are the common currency of digital natives.
The marketer of today is now faced with an expanded number of channels and platforms to reach audiences, the new ways of thinking about audience engagement, new technologies for analyzing marketing eﬀectiveness, new challenges of 'breaking through the noise' to reach target audiences, the fast pace of change, and new responsibilities for the marketing functions.
The Chief Marketing Officer for Adobe, Ann Lewness noted that “The shift to digital requires new technology, new approaches and, in many cases, entirely new roles for marketers.
Indeed the roles for marketer are changing, and the changes won’t stop. The new breed of marketers have to evolve and quickly too. Ours is a time when strong business performance is correlated to digital marketing skills. Competitive advantage and revenue growth is coming from being at the right digital intersection at the right time with the right offer.
To combat or deal with these sudden demands for certain marketing technology expertise, new arms have been set up in our marketing departments. Those are the guys that seem to get it, the digital marketers.
For now, it may suffice. But as time goes every marketer will need to evolve. As roles change, marketing functions will be reorganised. And with time, the marketer will now find that he would soon have to cast out the fascination with digital channels and multimedia assets. Emphasis will no longer be on the importance of mobile, Web, email, paid search, and so on; the channels have dissolved into normalcy.
Every marketer will now have to evidence the knowledge and deep understanding of marketing technological strategies and tactics as they evolve. Being able to perform marketing functions in its traditional form will no longer suffice: businesses will begin to expect its marketers to become digital and technology leaders. So to stay relevant, these marketers will need to deliver.
Apart from the need to stay relevant, other reasons abound for marketers to stay up-to-date. Being familiar with and understanding these marketing technologies help marketers make better decisions (even when outsourcing functions, you can tell when you are getting good work). More importantly, you also get to spot threats and opportunities early on which can give you a competitive edge. Your acquired depth of knowledge increases your skill, effectiveness and ability to measure the impact of marketing efforts.
And the icing on the cake, keeping up-to-date with your industry is key for building expert power. Being up-to-date will earn the trust and respect of the people around you which could be valuable.
To be effective and relevant tomorrow, every marketer has to embrace digital marketing and technology. Some have already begun. For some others, it’s a daunting task. Whichever group you belong, one thing is certain you need to evolve or you die.
So how do you re-invent yourself? A brief discussion with some top marketing pros in Nigeria show a consensus on the need to reinvent themselves but they don’t know how. Usually, the question is, do you go for trainings, what trainings, who are the trainers? As knowledge has become more democratic, so also has the mode of acquiring knowledge changed. In a time of the internet, how you get knowledge is no longer determined by time and space. So you see, you can be who you want to be from your work station at your office.
How, to evolve and fit into the profile of the new marketer, there needs to be a shift in psychology. The new marketer is not a certificate, It’s a psychology; a way of life. It’s the ability to be up to date, the ability to evolve. To have a firm grip of marketing technologies as they become relevant, lose their relevance, get replaced, etc. And you can build up this psychology. By the way, age and gender has nothing to do with it. Below are some tips that should be helpful in your evolution.
•GET PASSIONATE: Programme your mind to be excited about innovations. Incorporate it into every possible aspect of your life. Thrive in digital, live it, breathe it. Technology should be embraced not feared. Loved and not avoided. Gone were the days when you could give a dismissive ‘it’s too technical to understand’. It’s now your job to understand them.
•TRAININGS: Take online courses- there are free and paid ones. Attend webinars, listen to podcasts. Get trained. Train yourself. Practise.
•COLLABORATE: Share, discuss, join knowledge sharing communities and forums with similar interests. There are lots of platforms where you can talk to experts from around the world. An example is Quora. Connect with experts from anywhere in the world. And don’t hoard the knowledge you have.
•CURIOSITY: Curiosity is the engine to Self-Education. Discipline is the fuel. Read all you can. Learn all you can. Find the right blogs and visit them regularly (to keep up with the slew of information, install an RSS reader, I use feedly, for now at least) .Read relevant whitepapers, reports etc.
•INGEST RELEVANT STUFF: In the quest for knowledge I realised that it’s important you don’t waste time on outdated information. Your time is precious, so use it wisely. In this age, information gets outdated really fast. Take an article that promises knowledge of current SEO trends and practices. Let’s say it was written in May 2013, by May 2014, that article will be outdated. Why? Google has made changes/ updates to their algorithms in that period. Some named, others unnamed. There was the Panda recovery in July 19, 2013, Hummingbird on August 20, 2013, the Penguin 2.1 update on October 4, 2013, the Authorship Shake-Up on December 19, 2013,etc. This is just to list a few - there were at least 15 note-worthy changes. I went through the hardcopy of a book recently which claimed to give salient tips on ‘online PR’. Though, a few of the general principles about PR still stood firm. The tips, examples and how-tos were painfully outdated. That book was published in 2010.
•ONE STEP AT A TIME: Morphing into a marketing technology ninja overnight is not the aim. The key is for you to own a high-level of understanding of what and how technology is driving the way the market interacts with most companies in the present and in the future so your marketing efforts can evolve as the buying and selling landscape changes.
May the winds be at your back!