The marketing industry is shifting toward a customer-centric, solution-seeking, data-driven model and marketers are encouraged to follow suit. Marketers have to know how to crunch numbers, spot trends, spark interest, make changes, and make connections - all while surpassing the competition.
There are 1,000 ways to earn that next big promotion, but a surefire way to be a marketing pioneer is to position yourself and your company for the future. Are you at proverbial fork in the road, trying to figure out which skills to strengthen as you rise in your career? Check out the four concepts that marketing pioneers-in-the-making should get a grasp on right now:
Choose Quality Over Quantity
Everyone knows that the marketing industry applauds data-driven decisions, but what happens when numbers don’t reflect company expectations? For example, 198 million people globally are now blocking ads according to Adobe and Pagefair’s 2015 Ad Blocking Report. This means that customers and clients are intentionally avoiding those branded ads that you worked so hard to publish on your company’s favorite search engine or social media site.
Some marketers would use that observation to up their ad spend in hopes of reaching more audience members, but you know what’s really hard to ignore? Curiosity. When it comes to crafting a brand story and identity that audiences and customers can get behind, begin with the end in mind. Who do you want to reach? What’s the ideal response? Marketers who are serving up content that answers questions, starts conversations, and shares expertise will be poised to make the quality calls when it matters most.
Tip for becoming a marketing pioneer: Focus on value, not numbers.
Take Ownership of MarTech
Once a nascent category, MarTech has grown into a thriving marketing model. In March 2016, Scott Brinker’s annual marketing technology supergraphic pegged the total number of marketing technology solutions at 3,874 vendors across 51 categories.
That’s a lot of solutions to choose from, but it’s important to choose wisely. Nothing undercuts your pristine marketing strategy quite like plopping a new solution on a flawed system. MarTech allows for an efficient managing and monitoring of multiple functions, but it doesn’t beat the nuanced, on-the-ground insight that marketers offer.
Marketing pioneers will volunteer to lend their expertise and ensure that MarTech solutions are being used at their full potential. Perhaps you took a coding class and can now easily navigate through the source code of your platform’s editor. Maybe your color-coded spreadsheets can be the building blocks of your next project launch. Even as solutions streamline and simplify specific marketing processes, individual expertise is what differentiates one marketing pioneer from the next.
Tip for becoming a marketing pioneer: Be selective with your marketing solutions and take ownership of your role.
Steer The Driverless Marketing Ride
As marketing solutions integrate into cohesive packages, it has become easier for marketers to minimize manual processes. This insistence on digital approaches doesn’t excuse marketers from being hands-on. In fact, the arrival of a “self-driving” marketing model makes it even more important for pioneering marketers to create a clear path of expectations and goals to follow.
“Understanding the basic operating mechanics behind the tools you use and the medium you work in is a prerequisite for unleashing the full extent of your creativity.” - Agata Celmerowski, Former VP of Marketing, CampaignMonitor
New technology isn’t an invitation to stop learning and improving. Smart marketers can take the lead with their newest tech solution and discover ways to seek new skills and optimize processes that rival technological ease.
Tips for becoming a marketing pioneer: Technology doesn’t trump the need for tactical skills.
Get There First
It’s easy to get lonely as you pioneer change in your office. That is until the competitors start rushing in. Marketing pioneers occupy an extremely unique position within the landscape because both well-known companies and brand new teams are volleying to earn a spot in emergent categories, like referral marketing. If you have an innovative solution or strategy, it won’t be original for long, so act quickly and strategically.
"If you're willing to try things before they go mainstream, that willingness - even if you're not particularly good at that specific thing - gives you a disproportionate advantage. If something takes off, you're already ahead of the inflection point. You've had time to test, learn, and get really good at it before everyone else jumps in."
- Mike Volpe, Former CMO, HubSpot
Marketing pioneers aren’t daunted by the task of differentiation, they are propelled by it. The sooner you learn how to harness and leverage your brand’s competitive advantage, the better.
Tip for becoming a marketing pioneer: Learn to look beyond the competition.
How To Become A Marketing Pioneer
You don’t have to be in a leadership role to lead. Lasting change can happen at any level of marketing expertise. As the marketing industry widens, deepens, and divides, it becomes even more evident that the industry-shifting leaders of tomorrow are already active in today’s marketing industry. Whether discovering industry-leading categories or leading innovative solutions in the office, marketing pioneers set the precedent for visionary marketing.