The evolution of marketing is constant and rapid in the modern business world, but the long-term outlook for the industry also changes at this accelerated pace. Given this constant evolution, a panel at the Social Shake-Up conference in Atlanta sought to explore whether or not a "Frankenmarketer" would ever be created.
The numerous - and expanding - set of skills that marketers need to have make this a challenge. The experts explained that stitching together this Frankenmarketer is difficult - given the need for knowledge regarding creative, TV, print, radio, web design, digital advertising, SEO and...the list goes on and on. Despite this growing list of mediums, the panel sought to tie it all together into one comprehensive marketing monster.
Moderated by Frank Eliason, the Director of Global Social Media for Citi, the panel featured a number of well known industry leaders: Murray Goldstein, Executive Director of SMB Segment Marketing for Cox Business, Tami Cannizzaro, Director of Marketing, Social Business for IBM Global and Dipayan Gupta, Head of Social Media Marketing and Strategy for New York Life.
Content marketing has changed, and marketers - including entire teams and CMOs - have tried to change with it, as customers and their cloud have increased significantly. Tami noted that brands now need to be ahead of the curve in this regard, and it comes down to listening to your customer base.
Social media - not just a platform
Gupta explained that social media is not just technology or a platform - it is listening to customers and developing a relationship with people based on what is said on these channels. This lies at the core of marketing, especially as these networks progress even further.
Murray added that social media levels the playing field for companies, and marketers need to take advantage of this quality. Smaller businesses can enter into a space that is dominated by bigger firms, but with effective marketing, they can carve out a niche within the overall industry.
Marketers need to figure out how to best navigate this space, without exposing their brand by failing to adhere to industry best practices.
Gupta noted that platforms like Twitter allow marketers to be nuanced and intelligent, but it can also expose individuals or brands that are trying to take advantage of situations and opportunities in an obvious manner. The level of "creepiness" or "intrusiveness" is also important to gauge, and people need to consider their own values and tastes when determining what is too much.
"Sometimes you may be your own best barometer for this [decision]," said Mr. Gupta.
Disasters provide unique opportunities, but marketers need to avoid coming across as crass or insensitive. The panelists agreed that ad platforms and social networks should be used to reach out to people in a time of crisis - you can be useful and helpful.
Tami noted that marketers should be cautious in that they shouldn't infiltrate people's lives too much. Murray added that you want to be careful with personalization.
"A fool with a tool is still a fool," he noted.
Marketing is now social media, there isn't really a distinction between the two. This means that people need to be taught how to collaborate internally, and then they can use these tools to reach out to their customers and partners.
"Social media was the first time that customers had a first touch-point with the company," said Gupta. He added that this includes concerns, complaints, issues - you can begin to create themes about certain feedback. Marketers need to figure out how to configure lines of business and customer service and develop these channels.
Murray added that marketers need to present thought leadership in a unique and collaborative way in order to stay ahead, and this means listening to feedback on the aforementioned channels.
Brands that have successfully marketed are especially focused on collaboration. Companies like American Express were mentioned by the panelists, as they aggressively - not in an abrasive manner, however - reach out to customers and present them with rewards and act as a helpful advisor. Not only do they reach out in this regard, they allow small business owners to share their experiences, something that Tami noted was paramount to maintaining a collaborative edge over the competition.
Gupta noted that the airline industry has remained ahead of the curve in the collaborative approach, as they actively address customer feedback to make overall improvements for their brand.
Content marketing in the future
All of the panelists agreed that the future of marketing is uncertain, but if people are tenacious and have a passion for the various mediums, they will be able to maintain their prowess in the space.
As Murray explained, there needs to be something believable about the way that marketers present themselves.
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it," he said, adding that perception is key within the industry, and that curiosity is an essential trait for any successful marketer. "How can you think differently that can impact customers in a different way?"