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.
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?
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:
Soft skills are a little woolly and difficult to assess. Some of these skills are:
- Time management
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 yourYoda 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.
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!