Changing skills of the 2012 Marketer


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I think it is fair to say that never before has the job of a Marketing Manager been more difficult. We now operate in a world where the social consumer is firmly in control, media is fragmented almost beyond recognition offering us a huge proliferation of channel and connection choices and budgets are certainly not growing in line with the challenges. And all at a time when trust in the Marketing industry is reported to be at an all-time low!

And so surely this means the skill-sets required of modern-day Marketers have also changed beyond recognition? Well, yes but in our experience we are seeing many focus perhaps too single-mindedly on the ‘Digital only’ up-skilling and often overlooking the need for the integration of Digital tools and channels within the overall Marketing strategy. Indeed within the Digital arena itself, many businesses seem incredibly focused on Marketing innovation and chasing the latest ‘Marketing handbag’ (to quote Daryl Fielding, VP Europe Marketing, at Cadbury Kraft) or shiny-penny often to the detriment of proven business and marketing practice.

Don’t get me wrong….I am all for the need to innovate, test and learn and actively support clients in this capacity, however in our view it seems many are taking their eyes off some of the fundamental Marketing principles from the past and losing the need for balance.

The best CMO’s, in our view, are the ones focused on building an internal team that understands and builds strategies to meet its business goals, based on rich consumer understanding and using Marketing tactics and channels that are most suitable to meet their objectives; invariably a mix of online and offline, digital and physical experiences….but always focused on driving improved business performance and a balance of the most relevant Marketing channels. In the results oriented world in which we live, brand and business growth surely has to be our number one objective, no matter what the channel used.

It seems many large brands agree with us and there have recently been a slew of interesting comments. Let’s look at just a few.

Brewer AB InBev (ABI) is a case in point. Although they operate what they call a ‘fans first’ strategy, they include their owned database alongside their social media ‘fans’ when it comes to direct marketing. ABI proclaim not to have a ‘social media strategy’ per se – maintaining that social networks are just a means to an end – with their ‘fans first’ approach simply meaning that the ‘first, second and third dollars it invests in a brand are dedicated to consumers who have actively chosen to connect with the company’. This to us is solid relationship marketing thinking, applied to the social space and makes perfect and good sense. Indeed, with regards to the role of Marketers, Chris Burggraeve, CMO at brewer AB InBev, says that ‘nothing has really changed over time in the Marketer’s core areas of responsibility and the marketer’s job is still to move forward whatever behavioural and attitudinal measures lie at the heart of brand health for the company’.

Diageo, a TCF client, have also been vocal in this space recently. Philip Gladman, Western Europe white spirits Director, argues that brand managers of the future are going to have to be like “Swiss army knives” and come with a whole new set of skills, to complement basic skills such as ‘creativity, strategic thinking and being good with numbers’. Speaking at the annual ISBA conference in March he said that the brand managers of today were ‘a fundamentally different animal than the traditional brand manager’ and had to have a balanced range of skills to handle the digital challenge and opportunity.

Kraft Foods (also a TCF client), have recently talked about ‘digital fitness’ and the vital need for businesses to drive digital to the core of the business in order to survive in the new business landscape. Bonin Bough, VP of Global Digital and Consumer Engagement, recently speaking at a Social Business Summit, called on businesses to build up ‘STEM capabilities’ by which he meant ‘science, technology, engineering and maths’. At TCF, we equally advocate for businesses to understand the science and maths of their business, knowing where the value and profit lies and how they can best develop strategies to maximise business performance by being smart and delivering the right message to the right consumer at the right time.

Indeed, never has Relationship Marketing and Customer Management seemed more relevant and important….especially when it can be so well enabled by digital tools and channels.

Procter & Gamble have also talked about the fundamental need to shift and change how it operates, with Marc Pritchard, Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer, stating that ‘digital marketing is no longer a trendy use of technology for technology’s sake, but instead the way that P&G aims to engage with people in real-time and build brands’.

Crucially, P&G are ensuring that rather than digital being a strategy in its own right, digital is purely the enabler for their over-arching strategy which in the words of Pritchard is to ‘build lifelong, one-on-one relationships in real-time with every person in the world’.

In summary, it is clear that the modern Marketer needs to build and hone their digital skills and understanding and we will continue to see the re-shaping of Marketing departments to reflect the optimal way to engage consumers. However, avoiding the worst of the hype, the best marketers will strike the right balance and continue to rely and lean on traditional skills and sharp business and value focus whilst adopting a managed and selective approach to testing and innovation.

To take Philip Gladman’s analogy of the Swiss army knife, just as the knife balances the core blade with the flashy gadgetry so must businesses effectively balance a focus on the proven fundamentals with innovation and digital integration.

We’d love to hear your thoughts….

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nick Broomfield
Nick Broomfield is a Director & Partner at The Customer Framework. He joined TCF in 2010 having spent 8 years at Diageo where he headed the Global Digital Marketing Team. Nick was responsible for successfully integrating interactive channels to become an indispensible element of the overall brand plans and is credited with introducing and embedding a focus on consumer engagement. He is passionate about helping brands engage and build profitable relationships with consumers across multiple channels. Nick currently sits on the IDM Digital Advisory Council.


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