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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner and I am all about B2B, digital and content marketing. That’s what I do. And thank you for listening.

Every week, I’ll pick one marketing question and attempt to address it with actionable take-aways in 7 minutes or less. So send me your questions. I want to help you take on your marketing challenges.

This week, I have the following question from Benjamin. He asked:
“What digital roles/skills/capacities focus areas will large brands need to master in order to effectively market to today’s customers and provide great customer experiences?”

Ok, that’s a loaded question! I remember a discussion with my VP when I was in the corporate world: “Should a future marketer be a generalist or a specialist? Should the marketer focus on having a general understanding of each marketing discipline or drill down to be an expert in a specific field?”

My take on this. I want to talk about from the perspectives of technologies. When technologies get involved, things get complicated. A natural force will gently nudge us to specialize in a specific marketing field. Think about the evolution of computers: back in the 80’s, computer engineers could easily comprehend hardware and software by assembling their own personal computers and writing their own code. However, as technologies became more complicated, operating systems were built on top of hardware, and network and different stacks of software were added on top of operating systems. Things are so complicated that no one engineer can master all the stacks. Computer engineers need to choose: should they focus on hardware or software? If it’s software, what programming languages should they specialize in? Not to mention new fields such as cybersecurity, mobile app development, machine learning and more spring up like mushroom. Computer-related fields continuously to grow.

I see the evolution of marketing moving in that same vein. Technology-driven marketing will naturally nudge us to specialize in specific marketing fields. A great example is SEO. It takes years to know the ins and outs of SEO and the technologies are always changing. Another great example is e-mail and marketing automation because it also takes time to run a great e-mail campaign. Continuous learning is a must to keep up with the ever-changing technologies. And Like computers, there are new fields that keep popping up such as sales enablement and agile marketing. Oh, to know what agile marketing is, you have to check out my friend, Jeff Julian’s website, EnterpriseMarketer.com.

Well, that doesn’t mean that you should not be a generalist. A generalist makes perfect sense if you want to climb the corporate ladder to become a marketing director, VP of Marketing, CMO or even eventually manage a product group. You need to be able to connect the dots and see how each marketing function ties together. Obtain the ability to see the forest for the trees. Be strategic.

To be a generalist or specialist: there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on where you want to go and what you want to be. Of course, fate and destiny play a role in it as well.

In general, the specialist’s skillset tends to relate to a specific marketing discipline such as e-mail marketing, SEO, event marketing, and media buy etc. I call these “hard” skillsets. There’re also “soft” skills which I address in my book, “Global Content Marketing.”

Here are the five soft-skills I mention:

• The Taste of an Artist
• The Acumen of a Business Leader
• The Data-Driven Mindset of a Scientist
• The Desire of a Lifetime Learner
• The Curiosity of an Investigative Journalist

The Taste of an Artist: Having a keen eye for design, user-interface and image selection. With digital marketing, the intangible design on your websites, mobile apps, even simply the layout of eBooks, can transform certain types of emotional experiences that you want to convey.

The Acumen of a Business Leader: Understanding how to quantify ROI of marketing and how to work well with other functions in a company.

The Data-Driven Mindset of a Scientist: Analyzing data and deriving insights to optimize creative, copywriting, promotional channels, syndication timing and budget allocation. But you can’t blindly follow the data. Sometimes you’ll need to listen to your gut.

The Desire of a Lifetime Learner: Technologies move fast. It’s important to stay on top of new marketing disciplines (e.g., voice recognition search, programmatic, augment reality, etc.) Learning is so critical and should always be part of your professional life.

The last one. The Curiosity of an Investigative Journalist: At the end of the day, it’s about searching and looking for a compelling story to tell. To write a good piece of content, regardless of the white paper, future trends or inside scoops, you need to dig in deeper than just writing a quick 500-word blog. You need to do your research to write a good piece of content. And There is no shortcut.

So, roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, read, network and learn. There is not much to it. It’s a never-ending journey. I am still learning. Keep moving forward.

Benjamin, I hope that I answered your question.

That is this week’s 7-minute Marketing with Pam.  If you have a question for me, you can reach me pamdidner.com or @pamdidner.

Thank you for listening, until next week.