The Changing Role of Today’s Marketing Department

Hey, have you heard that thing about the world dramatically, irrevocably changing? Something about social media, the massive proliferation of data, profound content consumption pattern changes, an explosion of consumer options, and worldwide connectivity?
Just teasing, I know you’re on it.
Every day, it seems, marketing departments are having to adjust, pivot, learn about, and fiddle with new technology just to keep up. The role of marketing in business has been in a turbulent (exciting? throw-up-ride terrifying?) state of flux, to say the least, for the last several years. The pace of change in the industry can be overwhelming, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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Weathering (and Juggling) Change

Way back yonder in 2007, a Mckinsey study accurately predicted, “Few senior-executive positions will be subject to as much change over the next few years as that of the chief marketing officer.”
And how. Since then we’ve witnessed the dizzying rise of social media, mobile technology, SEO, and data-driven marketing. Marketers now devote about 60% of their time to digital endeavors. Google now processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day.   
As overwhelming as all this change has been and as daunting as wrangling technology can be, a good starting point remains the same: identifying metrics that matter most (to your boss). If your target is unclear, or constantly shifting, you’re not likely to succeed… or be able to prove you’re doing anything worthwhile.
For example, if your boss’ bottom line is total conversions, or customer acquisition cost, prioritize those things over your churn rate calculations or customer value tracking.
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Change = Opportunity

The good thing about all the changes happening today is that so many fresh marketing opportunities are being created. Automation, Big Data, wearables, the Internet of Things… All these new frontiers are broadening your marketing department’s role and giving you more opportunities to display measurable results, be they click-through rates, leads, cost per acquisition info, social interactions, conversions, or whatever else your chief deems important. The trick is to avoid chasing after things that aren’t that useful for your company.
There are more avenues to get your message out today (how about that user generated content?) than ever before, and more magnificent technology to track your results and monitor your ROI. Whereas back in the day, marketers would place an ad and pray potential customers would see it, and now today you can pay based on how many clicks/impressions/leads you get.
All this to say you have ample opportunity to show off how indispensable your marketing efforts are.
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Drivers of Change

The confluence of technology, data, and the proliferation of choice – which has shifted the balance of power to the consumer – is forcing marketers to sharpen their messaging, data gathering and overall tactics.  The onus is on us to cater to increasingly savvy, skeptical customers with the following expectations: “Treat me like you know me and deliver highly relevant personalized experiences at every touch point.”
You have to empower the consumer now, initiate genuine dialogue, and work harder to win their trust.
These drivers of change are leading to new responsibilities for marketers.
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Great Power, Great Responsibility (#Spiderman)

Responsibilities like building brands, making advertising more effective, and staying on top of market research aren’t going away any time soon. Nor are the tasks of bolstering your company’s public profile and educating your other internal departments to make sure your efforts harmonize.
And, of course, there is the constant pressure to prove ROI. We all have to back up our plans with facts, right? You better have specific and reliable data to justify that budget of yours.
This is a lot to keep track of, without even accounting for marketing’s evolving role.
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Guidelines to Stay on Point


  • Establish what metrics are important to your company, and stay focused on measuring them
  • Make sure your other departments are aware of the metrics you’re tracking so you can work together toward common goals
  • Never stop learning, but don’t get psyched out by the breakneck speed of change or new technology
  • Be confident in the basics you already know
  • Try new things and technologies, but don’t let them distract you from your main goals/metrics
  • Remember that what you’re doing is important and makes a difference in the lives and livelihoods of real people (marketing’s not brain surgery, but we can make a positive impact in the way we go about our work)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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Some Things Never Change

Obviously the marketing landscape has changed dramatically, and will continue to do so. But some things – like musty old common sense, Golden Rule-type things – never change. Take, for instance, treating people with respect. Building rapport. Being affable, helpful, engaging, and timely. Establishing genuine human connection.
These things still matter, and they always will – so long as we’re talking about human beings marketing to other human beings.
If the robots take over, then the role of marketing will really change.
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