Modern Marketers Need to Speak 'Engineer' Creativity is still necessary, but the skills to access data and track campaigns are now a must.
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Many successful companies today are software companies under the hood. This massive transformation is felt most profoundly in the changing nature of relationships between companies and their customers, and the marketing department is an integral cog in these relationships.
Industry by industry, the decimation of traditional business models by technology-driven competitors gathers momentum. Consider Netflix and Blockbuster, iTunes and Tower Records, or Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It's why AOL paid $315 million for Huffington Post -- essentially a publishing platform for citizen journalists -- whereas Jeff Bezos paid $250 million for the venerable Washington Post and all its Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and foreign correspondents.
The modern digital marketer can no longer run business by instinct alone, but must use technology to test, measure and optimize their campaigns, often in real time and at massive scale. To remain relevant and effective in this world, they not only need to be experts in the evaluation of software and express high-levels of technical literacy, but also understand how technology enables a new mode of marketing strategy.
So how do find and hire this modern marketer? For one, look for those with a technical background, whether academically or professionally. For example, marketers with an engineering degree may be a better fit than those with liberal arts degrees. People who have had product management experience also tend to have the right technical aptitude.
Given that access to data at scale and in real time is an enabling attribute of a modern marketing strategy, it naturally follows that data scientists and analysts become critical to the successful implementation of a data-driven marketing strategy. These individuals will be drawn to progressive marketing organizations, where data analysis sits at the intersection of corporate strategy and customer relationships. These are highly desirable places to apply their skills -- the front line of the corporate world.
Once you attract a tech-literate marketer, let them do their thing. Tell them what you want to accomplish and give them the freedom to solve for that using data. Provide them with the budget to explore software and analytics platforms, and let them be the experts in selecting the most effective tools.
Another retention tool beyond a fair salary is revenue accountability. It used to be the marketer's job to set up leads for the sale organization to close, but with more transactions happening online with little or no human input, marketing's accountability for revenue is growing. In some cases, they now own the revenue number, and this is a trend that will likely continue to gain traction.
Despite all this (justified) talk about marketing becoming a data-driven science, a marketing campaign still begins with a creative idea. In fact, the need for a creative idea is as important today as it ever has been. Hiring and retaining a good data marketer to help measure the success of that idea and suggest how it can be improved, will take you even farther.