Recently I’ve written about my perspective on the role of a modern CMO and have given tips on how to climb the corporate ladder if you’re a digital marketer. However, not everyone aspires to be a CMO. Many are eager to get into digital marketing and those already in the field want to become better, to be truly great digital marketers. One of the biggest challenges in digital marketing is about definition. What exactly is “digital” and what types of digital marketing practitioners are out there?
I believe there are 5 key archetypes:
- The Technologist is the tech geek. This is someone who is comfortable talking about website development builds, web hosting, e-commerce or other technology-heavy digital initiatives.
- The Strategist is passionate about consumer behaviour. They want their marketing and % of media spend to match the massive amount of consumer time being spent online or using a mobile device. They live and breathe digital, but may come up short when it comes to deep operational insights or how to make it happen outside of a PowerPoint presentation.
- The Specialist is the person who is a true expert in one particular field. The search marketing professional, the e-CRM expert or the mobile application developer. However, their deep subject matter expertise usually comes at the expense of broader experience in other forms of marketing.
- The Media Maven is an expert in ad units and media placements. They understand the most popular websites, how to spend money efficiently with Google, Facebook, Yahoo! or Ad Networks. The best ‘Media Mavens’ also know what creative units work best in each platform.
- The All Rounder is that rare individual who has done a lot of things in the digital world. They have probably built websites, engaged in social conversations, managed digital marketing campaigns, maybe done a bit of search marketing and are now passionate about all things mobile. A lot of people aspire to be ‘The All Rounder’ but very few walk the talk when it comes to do the various areas of digital marketing well.
So what makes a great digital marketer? In addition to having a solid grasp of marketing fundamentals, good presentation, and inter-personal skills, here are 7 tips for success:
- Don’t talk tech, talk business. This is a simple mistake I see so many marketers make. Talking about click-throughs, impressions or sentiment doesn’t mean anything to the CEO. If you can link your work to increased revenue, cost savings or higher levels of customer engagement/experience you’ll have the support of senior management.
- Try to be inherently social and mobile. The world is rapidly becoming about connected mobile devices. So focus all your efforts on truly understanding these platforms. Instead of building a website, focus on responsive design or building a mobile site first. For social, ensure every other form of digital marketing is inherently social. You can do this by adding social share buttons, opening up Apps or websites to comments, or integrating your work into social networks such as Facebook or Pinterest. More importantly, be social in your personal life – walk the talk! Blog, Tweet, Pin and interact with others online.
- Challenge what others tell you is possible in digital. Many forms of digital marketing are still evolving and there aren’t best practices built yet. There’s the potential for greatness in all forms of digital marketing. For example, no one even considered using YouTube for real-time (and wildly entertaining) conversations until Old Spice launched their legendary campaign for Old Spice Guy in 2010. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. But because things are changing so rapidly in digital, there is potential everywhere.
- Reimagine and reinvent the best of your past work. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you run a campaign or build a website. Go find out who’s already done a great job and build upon what they’ve done. Google have a wonderful process called Project re:brief where they review old campaigns and reimagine them for the 21st century (with a strong focus on social, mobile, search, YouTube video and digital activation). You can take the same idea with your previous work or the best work of others – relook at that last campaign, brainstorm how you could improve it and then make it happen.
- Deliberately open yourself up to criticism. Like the early point about being inherently social, it’s important to not just be good at digital marketing but take it to the next level by becoming a thought leader. I don’t suggest you do this to get famous, but to do this to put your ideas on the public stage for criticism, review and ultimately, improvement. You’re not great until you’ve been challenged and put to the test. If your ideas or work doesn’t stand up to criticism, you need to go back and continue learning.
- Read voraciously and continue learning. No one knows everything about digital marketing. and because of the pace of technology change, things are moving so quickly. It’s important to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world of marketing. At least 5 – 10 hours a week of solid reading andnetworking is required to keep at the top of your game. Even more importantly, you need to seek out best practice examples and learn from others. For example, meet up with digital marketing leaders and other Fortune 500 brands, have lunch with your agency once a week or fortnight, or attend regular marketing events and seminars.
- Challenge yourself to master another part of digital marketing. Your ultimate goal should be to become ‘The All Rounder’ – a master of all digital marketing arts. So if you’re great at search marketing, branch out and immerse yourself in social media or e-CRM. Keep challenging yourself until you’ve been successful at everything.