Students of marketing are entering an uncertain job market, as companies filter candidates for a new and changing set of skills. When I was in graduate school, every marketing case started with a breakdown of the four Ps: product, price, placement, promotion. With those four key attributes, every marketing challenge could be neatly defined, analyzed, reconstituted, and solved in a 90-minute class session. And I’d say that framework held up pretty well out in the real world for at least a couple of decades.
But a funny thing happened on the way out of the last recession in 2009: Growth became king. More accurately, growth as a marketing discipline staged a coup. That power shift brought a whole new way to analyze marketing effectiveness, and with that, the strength of marketers.
The new marketer is a master of what I like to call the six Cs:
- Customer centricity
- Culture of accountability
- Critical thinking
The cost of new customer acquisition is extraordinarily high in almost every consumer category. This means that customer retention has come center stage. No longer can we take for granted that customers will offer their loyalty and repurchase. With so many options in every category, loyalty has to be earned. Retention marketing has become a critical part of the marketing organization and is garnering more of the marketing spend.
Culture of accountability
The term “growth mindset” is appearing everywhere—no more so than in marketing organizations. Sales is the responsibility of everyone in the company and revenue-minded individuals are increasingly valuable in marketing teams. Marketing ownership for revenue goals is becoming more common (or at minimum shared ownership), and marketing teams are incorporating growth metrics into the OKRs for every individual role. Product marketing may own driving higher average selling price, demand generation may own pipeline velocity (not just top-of-funnel metrics) and the content and creative teams may own conversion as a content metric. The point here is that the culture of the marketing team is all about driving top-line revenue growth and serving up proof through data-anchored success metrics.
Marketing is being asked to take a bigger role at the strategy table, which means cross-functional collaboration is a skillset that is no longer optional; it’s a requirement. Working across the company, supply chains, and channels takes more than great communication skills. The new marketer must understand how to influence without direct ownership, partnering with product teams, engineers, growth marketers, and more. Earning the respect of colleagues fosters the authority to drive change.
In a world where message volume is overwhelming at best, and at worst, completely incoherent, content quality has never been more important. While enabled digitally at lightning speed, the right message to the right person at the right time is still a human endeavor. The most sophisticated personalization, AI and machine learning, and predictive analytics in the world aren’t going to help you if the words and pictures are wrong. Strong content marketers are worth their weight in gold, and then some.
Marketing has become a highly technical discipline. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Listening to the data that you are collecting, understanding the context of what it means, and acting upon it in order to drive action is still an art, but there is a lot of science underlying that art. Critical to the new marketer is the ability to understand data science, systems, and analytics. Without them, the holy grail of 1:1 marketing at scale will never be attained. If I were doing my education again, I’d still focus on economics or business as an undergraduate discipline, but I’d be tacking on a Masters in Data Science if I really wanted a “sure thing” for a career path in marketing.
Last but far from least, be a kind and considerate human being. In addition to business concerns, everyone you encounter is wrestling with their own versions of the latest “new normal,” and it’s hard work. Let’s stop tossing around buzzwords like “emotional intelligence” and get down to basics. Listen to one another with caring and compassion in order to learn how to be better collaborators, colleagues, and allies. Think about the human consequences of marketing messaging and investments, both inside and outside the organization.
Candidates who demonstrate fluency in most if not all of these six C’s for the new marketer will set themselves above the pack in a tight job market.