Are you a modern marketer?

In this post we'll explore the traits of modern marketers and their evolution from artist to scientist.

Marketing has entered a new age. And the skill set for success couldn't be more different from that of 20 years ago. Modern marketing is faster, smarter, more dynamic and more important to an organisation's success then ever before. Traditional marketers driving big ideas forward with blind faith in creative are being replaced with technologists who act with clinical accuracy.

1. Data-driven

The modern marketer is data-driven. Being data-driven involves judging marketing or creative activity on traction rather than subjective reasoning. Modern marketers invest in tools and processes that enable new ideas to be published, and tested, rapidly and continuously. By consistently publishing and testing ideas with our target audience, we can identify potentially successful ideas quickly. These ideas can then be invested in to reach their full potential.

FMCG juggernaut Kraft claims they now generate 1.1 billion ad impressions a year with four times the return on investment through content marketing. Kraft's content publishing efforts allow them to track 22,000 attributes of over 100 million web visitors per year. This enables them to build stronger customer behavioural profiles and create increasingly informed and personalised targeting.

Amazon is famous for its data-driven approach to marketing. The business constantly tweaks its site to optimise conversion funnels. In one famous example, Amazon generated an additional $2.7 billion annual revenue by optimising their review interface.

Clearly, the importance of being able to prove that what you are doing is driving business outcomes is critical to any organisation.

2. Customer obsessed

In the past, businesses controlled how consumers accessed information about their products and organisation. Control enabled marketers to be selective with the information they communicated. To fully understand a product, a primed buyer would generally need to visit a retailer and speak to a sales assistant.

Now, all the information we could hope to have about a product is a Google search away. Thanks to unparalleled access, information control has completely gone out the window and shopping behaviour has changed. Google went as far as to coin the new phenomena the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). This change in power means that companies that survive and thrive are those that obsess over their customers.

Netflix may never have existed if not for the poor customer experience provided by Blockbuster. In 1997 the idea of Netflix came to Reed Hastings after he was charged $40 in late fees at Blockbuster. Late fees were a quick profit win for Blockbuster and their shareholders but their culture of focusing on short-term profits over positive customer experiences was ultimately their undoing. Since then, Netflix has cultivated over 65 million streaming, happy subscribers paying $10 a month. Obsessing over customer needs is what enables the creation of new categories.

In order to gain market share in the European running category in 2006, Nike launched a running shoe that synced with your iPod. Today Nike Plus is a global community of sports enthusiasts - everyone from runners and basketballers to dancers and yogis - who can track and compare their shared passion.

3. Channel hunter

Before today's proliferation of communication channels, you could count a marketer's channel options on one hand. The mediums were static by nature - media plans were purchased many months in advance and creative would need to be finalised well before the publish date. Companies like Nielsen were built in order to prove media viewing. In the US, Nielsen has tracking devices installed on 1,200 consumer TV sets, they then extrapolate statistics from these homes to represent the entire US. Traditional marketers justify tens of millions of dollars of advertising based on these stats. Crazy, right?

Today, new mediums and channels are forged daily. Startups like Meerkat pop up overnight and within just months have hundreds of millions of active users. Unlike previous mediums, the majority of these new channels are digital and therefore programmatic and inherently measurable. The modern marketer knows how to leverage and exploit the fundamental shift in the dynamic properties of new channels.

Back in 2000, a traditional marketer probably didn't view eBay as a channel - it was an online marketplace. Yet PayPal was able to build their business off the back of smart integrations with the eBay channel. Similarly, an early Airbnb built up their initial customer base through a Craigslist integration. To create their 'post to Craigslist' feature, Airbnb wrote a custom script that completed a form on Craigslist. This is the new paradigm of channel utilisation.

New channels offer huge opportunities to early entrants, however returns quickly diminish as the channel matures and becomes saturated. Successful modern marketers are able to identify and execute activity on new channels early in the lifecycle. We should be asking asking how we can leverage an Uber driver, Dropbox notification or the Apple Watch as a channel.

The fragmentation of dynamic channels means that traditional brand conglomerates have had to completely re-evaluate their business. Recently Procter & Gamble announced that they will shed more than half their brands, arguably in order to manage the prolifically more complex channel environment.

4. Always on

Customers are at various stages of the buying cycle at any given moment. The marketing campaign, though important, has increasingly limited benefits to us as modern marketers. Modern marketers recognise their customer's need for information and engagement at all times and focus on various activities to maintain relevance throughout the year.

To engage customers, we must refine brand-building content, the search experience, website content and customer feedback. By continuously engaging our customers with valuable content, we gain reach by leveraging customer advocacy, and convert new people into prospects through owned media channels such as email databases.

The production of content requires a new skill set from marketers and agencies alike, but can lead to serendipitous success of unparalleled scale. A classic example of this happened during the Oreo 100 day campaign. The brand celebrated its 100 year birthday by publishing a new ad on social every day for one hundred days. The ads used Oreo cookies to provide witticisms on current trends. During the 2013 Superbowl, Oreo published the above tweet in response to a power outage. The tweet was published 8 minutes after the outage and handed Oreo ownership of the social conversion around the Superbowl without spending a single cent on the most expensive media buy on the planet. Smart.

5. Technologist

Analytics, data integration, content marketing systems, automated marketing tools, social listening platforms and customer relationship management systems. These are just some of the technologies we must embrace to be a modern marketer.

Rapidly growing marketing IT budgets have led to the prediction that marketers will spend more on IT than, ahem, IT. Unlike risk adverse IT departments who are inherently slow to move, marketing's spin on IT is dynamic and opportunistic. This is the reason for the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist (CMT).

The CMT bridges marketing and IT to ensure vendor engagement, utilization and integration to enable creative execution. And the skill set required is becoming increasingly complex. To gain an edge over competitors, marketers will need to configure these technologies in unique ways. This trend will lead to increasing specialisation of marketing technologists.


Traditional marketer Modern marketer
The big idea Consistent improvement through data
Brand message obsession Customer obsessed
Channels are static Channels are dynamic and programmable
Several major campaigns throughout the year Always on
Wannabe Don Draper Wannabe Steve Jobs