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3 tips for success from today’s marketing rock stars

With marketing evolving at a rapid pace, what does it take to shine? Columnist Mary Wallace gathers some insight from three industry veterans.

Approximately 76 percent of marketers feel that marketing has changed more in the past two years than in the previous 50. What a mind-boggling thought.

Among the many changes, we’re seeing:

  • a plethora of new concepts and retreads of old ones — for example, account-based marketing,predictive intelligence and native advertising;
  • a growing number of channels for communication. Think Instagram, Periscope, the Internet of Things and virtual reality; and
  • an ever-expanding list of marketing technologies — e.g., Atomic Reach, which helps you write better blogs, or Nudge, which improves personal interactions with your contacts.

Clearly, we marketers can’t accept the status quo just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

What does it take for marketers to be successful in this ever-escalating time of change? I tapped three industry veterans to share their thoughts on this question.

Make it about the business

“Marketers have always held a crucial role powering the revenue team,” Lara Shackelford, EVP and chief marketing officer of Altify, told me. “Now marketers are more empowered to impact revenue by understanding data and applying knowledge and context. “

Whether marketing for a startup, an SMB (small or medium-sized business) or an enterprise, be aware of the following and incorporate what’s right for the business. That means:

  • understanding your buyers, what makes them buy, and the content that engages them;
  • being aware of the technology and data to deliver expected results;
  • having business acumen; and
  • actively taking managed and appropriate risks to better drive revenue.

Mastering these basic concepts isn’t always easy. But solely relying on ancient data points like email clicks and opens to highlight results doesn’t cut it anymore.

The impact of each campaign and project you and your team work on should be clearly aligned with business goals. Base your reporting on achievement of business goals.

Not all numbers are good. Be honest and open about where there is an opportunity for future success. And when you do, include lessons learned and ideas for future success.

Shackelford provides this advice: “The savviest marketers need to be analytical, creative, active listeners, sometimes coders, and above all they need a will to win. This includes a timeless dedication to continuously learn and to drive new outcomes in new ways.”

Focus on what matters

Ninety percent of all of the world’s data has been produced in the past two years, IBM has stated. While the percentage could have changed since then, it’s easy to assume the explosion of data has continued.

Much of this data is driven by the new platforms and emerging channels that marketers use to communicate. Sure, this data can be harnessed for business benefits, but the vastness and complexities of it can be overwhelming.

Fred Howard, SVP of marketing for UBM Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Groups, agrees. “Marketing is more complex now than it’s ever been: There are more channels, more tools, and more platforms that marketers have to understand. There is also more data and data complexity now than at any time in the past.”

Be curious about what this data says. Use it to understand big-picture items like buyer needs and buying behavior — for example, who is buying, why they are buying and what triggered the conversion.

Don’t stop at knowledge acquisition. Use the information gleaned to make changes in what marketing (and the business) does to generate revenue.

Says Howard, “Good marketers in today’s world must be able to sift through all of these systems and information to truly focus on what will drive the business.”

Bask in the differences

Understanding what the data tells us about our customers, as well as our impact to the business, is critical. But there is another side to the marketing coin that is equally as important: Creativity. It’s creativity that gives us storytellers and builds brands.

“There are dual paths for today’s marketer,” says Scott Vaughan, the chief marketing officer of Integrate (and a fellow Marketing Land contributor). There’s the big idea and storyteller professional trying to define and differentiate brands in a noisy, rapidly changing business world. This is complemented by a performance-minded marketer who uses data and technology to advance the potential of marketing to drive growth.

Vaughan recommends that to be successful, marketing leaders should “develop the right team, empower them and put them in a position to succeed and create business value.”

Success hinges on the effective combination of data, technology and creativity. If these function in silos, the storytellers won’t understand their impact, and it leaves the results-driven marketer with nothing to communicate about.

Yes, the role of marketing and how marketers do their jobs has changed significantly. To be successful, marketers need a strong business alignment, a laser focus on what matters and the ability to embrace both sides of the marketing paradigm.



by Mary Wallace