Keeping Up With Tectonic Shifts in Marketing: What Would Mark Twain Say?

This is a Guest Blog by Byomkesh Kumar, Director of Marketing at WizIQ.

A survey of 1,000 marketers conducted by Adobe in 2013, and compiled in the eerily-named study “Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?” alarmingly concluded that –

“Marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the past 50 years.”

In the last 20 years, 3 parallel trends are shifting the marketing landscape:

    • Emergence of New Digital Media: Channels like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn are riding on the new internet wave. 


    • Software entrenchment in Marketing Processes: In the last 5 years, software being specifically built for the marketing function has exploded twenty times from ~150 in 2011 to ~3,500 in 2016!


  • Globalisation and Mobile Revolution: As consumers are getting exposed to the best of products, they are more likely to be “banner-blind” to run-of-the-mill marketing messages.

This also means that the skill sets required for being a marketer today, are changing. New questions are being asked to aspiring marketers. New KPIs are being applied to judge their success.
Remember this is irrespective of whether they are pure-play digital marketers or marketing generalists, whose majority of media spend is on non-digital.

Digital Marketer

Image source: Art of Strategy Consulting

The sheer pace of change requires a digital marketer to keep running just to be in the same place.

  • So, let’s say you have mastered “Search Engine Optimization.” But what are you going to do in 3 years when conversational interfaces and voice searches change the very nature of when and how “Search” is done?
  • Or, you are the master of “Email marketing.” What is your plan to ensure emails keep going in the Inbox tab rather than in the Promotions or Campaign tab as spam filters keep getting smarter?
From Marketing Manager to Holistic Digital Marketer: Story of Isha Ostwal

Marketing Generalist

Image source: 134marketing

If you are a FMCG marketer and want to run your ad on YouTube, you can’t be lost or ignorant when the agency starts spewing their arsenal of technicalities such as CTR, CPC, CPM, etc. An adequate understanding and appreciation of digital is becoming the lowest bar.
While all this may seem overwhelming, it also opens up new possibilities and opportunities. New roles are getting forged at intersections of digital, technology and marketing.
Here is a three-step plan on how to take control of hydra-headed marketing and ride on emerging opportunities:

1. Create a Learning Plan

One question you need to start asking today

Start becoming brutally honest and developing acute levels of self-awareness about your skills and your limitations. This is important so you start taking responsibility for gaps in knowledge or desired competencies.
As Drew Houston says,

“One of the most helpful questions for me has been “one year from now — or two years, or five — what will I wish I had been learning today?

What to learn?

Take stock of what you need to learn and divide your learning needs into hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are easily quantifiable and measurable skills e.g. for a digital marketer, below can be some sample competencies and skills:

    • Photoshop


    • WordPress


  • Adwords

Soft skills are a little woolly and difficult to assess. Some of these skills are:

    • Persuasion


    • Negotiation


  • Time management
17 Essential Digital Marketing Skills for 2017

Define measurable goals

It helps if you start by defining your learning outcomes.
Create a quarterly goal for yourself which is specific and concrete, for e.g:

  • I will able to create a social media banner using Photoshop
  • I should be able to buy a domain, host it and install a wordpress theme on it
  • I would have created a campaign with 3 ad groups and 15 keywords and a campaign budget of Rs 1000 per month to learn AdWords on my own.

Who will be your Yoda?

Having decided on what you need to learn and the learning outcomes, you need to choose your
Yoda trainer.
If you are sufficiently motivated, you can go for free resources like textbooks and online materials. But, if you are someone who learns best with a structured course, a learner community and periodic assessments, there has never been a better time than now with learning providers such as UpGrad.
Some factors which can help you in evaluation of a suitable online course are live industry projects, faculty with practical experience, a proper course structure, mentoring and doubt clearing via Virtual Classroom sessions.

Staying motivated during your learning path

It is natural to get into analysis paralysis over the exact skill sets and the order in which you should choose them.
Even when you start learning, questions such as “Is it really useful to learn HTML/CSS now or should I first focus on improving my writing skills?” will keep plaguing you.
It is at this point that you will need to inculcate a little faith in the slew of opportunities life can provide you. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future and that you will start making sense of your learning path; even if it’s twenty years from now.

2. Apply your learning

The worst thing you could do is not chart a deliberate personal learning program to acquire new skills.
The second worst thing is stopping after just learning the basics of a skill.
You need to make a conscious effort to internalize newly-learned skills.
If you want to be a valued professional, you need to over-learn so that producing those skills at needed moments becomes autonomic.
Whether it is Adele’s effortless rendition at Royal Albert Hall or Federer’s majestic shots in the Australian Open, all of these are the result of countless sweats, showing up and not becoming content with just being good.
Keep learning so as to move up the Bloom’s taxonomy of your repertoire.

Being able to “Remember” and “Understand” is a good starting point but you would be prized more if you are able to “Evaluate” and “Create,” irrespective of the skill set under consideration.

Needless to mention, you have to take a judgement call whether you need to go to that level for all skills.
It may be good enough for a marketing leader who doesn’t actually spend time producing actual designs in photoshop, to just develop the sensibilities to tell a “good design” from a “bad design” and he can bring out the best of the design skills of applicants when building his team.

Digital Marketing Careers with Sujoy Golan: Marketers Unite Podcast

3. Developing a learning mindset

Ask self-critical questions on the metrics and performance indicators (Can I improve the CTR from 10% to 20% in a quarter?)
-> See this on the important distinction between Fixed mindset vs Growth mindset.
-> The target given to you looks impossible. Try anyway.
-> You feel resource constrained? See here.
As Mark Twain said,

Training is everything. Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a proper education.

Stop being a cabbage. Start learning today what you should have started learning yesterday!

What are the most important hard and soft skills a digital marketer must have?

To become a digital marketer, you need to have a balance of hard and soft skills.

Some of the hard skills include – understanding the nuances of SEO so that you can be found easily by your target audience, ability to work on the top content formats (social media, videos, blogs) to generate maximum results, creating compelling email marketing campaigns and learning the basics of analytics so that you can measure results later.

While these are the hard skills, some of the soft skills include creativity, curiosity, multitasking and the willingness to learn and listen.

What are some of the best ways to learn digital marketing?

Digital marketing is no longer a buzzword but a norm. Brands across various segments are leveraging online marketing tools to expand and grow their business. This has further increased the demand for digital marketing professionals. If you’re a fresher who wants to learn digital marketing, there are various routes you can take. Some of them include – enrolling in paid digital marketing certificate courses (upGrad), starting your own blog and learning from your own experiences, reading free digital marketing books and resources online, watching videos on YouTube, following influencers on social media, doing an internship and listening to digital marketing podcasts.

What is the difference between a growth and fixed mindset in a business?

The difference between a growth and fixed mindset is all about perception. A person who has a fixed mindset views failure as a validation of limited potential whereas a growth mindset makes a person believe that talent and abilities can be developed over time which can be used to improve processes.

these mindsets play a significant role in the success of small businesses. With a fixed mindset, small business owners might find it difficult to take risks whereas if they start with a growth mindset, they will be more inclined towards flexibility and innovation.

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