Are Marketers Having an Identity Crisis?

By November 1, 2016 Blog, Digital No Comments
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My favorite Halloween costume this year was a little girl who looked like an angel from the front and a devil from the back. As she told me in her elfin voice, she couldn’t decide which one to be, so she dressed as both, adorably. This miniature mix of good and bad was probably too young to understand how apropos this costume is—aren’t we all a little of both?

These days, many marketers are having a similar identity crisis. As more companies are relying on data-driven marketing and new technologies, finding employees to fill positions has become a bit more challenging: Do you hire people with marketing experience or tech skills?

Case in point—a 2016 survey conducted by the Creative Group found that 41% of marketing and advertising executives say they find it “somewhat” or “very challenging” to find skilled professional talent in today’s marketplace. According to MarketingDIVE, the most in-demand marketing specialties today are content marketing, brand/product management, digital marketing, and web design/production.

While no one would argue that marketing has changed dramatically over the years, it’s important to remember that the basics still apply. Trends come and go, but developing an overall strategy, understanding your customers, and finding innovative ways to reach and engage those customers form the foundation of effective marketing. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we can ignore the technology that is changing the game.

Did you know that marketing executives are buying nearly as much technology as IT departments? In fact, the average marketing department now utilizes about 17 different tech tools.1 Which brings us back to our original question: do we hire a tech whiz or a marketing guru?

It’s not a matter of focusing on “either or,” but rather learning to balance and combine the two. Some experts advise hiring a specialist to manage the technology aspects, such as a marketing automation professional who will be dedicated to using the system effectively, keeping up to date with changes, and possibly working with an implementation partner. However, it’s important not to sacrifice creativity in the process. Without carefully crafted campaigns and content, which involve creativity and marketing know-how, there is nothing to automate!

Larger organizations may decide to create separate functions under the marketing umbrella, such as demand generation (brand awareness, lead acquisition, and nurturing), digital (web infrastructure, content development and distribution), and operations (technology and analytics).2 While specialization may be more efficient, it’s important to operate as a team—with an emphasis on communication.

Going forward, the most effective marketers will be those who learn to blend creativity with technology; using inspiration to create campaigns and automation to deliver them efficiently, as well as data to determine how well they are performing. Among this mix, there will undoubtedly be those who don many hats—doing a little of this and a little of that—and wearing them with confidence.

(One way to round out your company’s skill set is to partner with an outside agency. At Spry Ideas, we can help you strategize, develop content, design an effective website, and implement marketing automation, so you can wear one or two fewer hats.)

1“How Marketing Is Becoming Less of an Art—and More of a Science,” by David Kirkpatrick, MarketingDIVE, 2016.

2“An Organizational Structure for Modern Marketing Success,” by Kevin Joyce, Target Marketing Magazine, 2016.