Despite the glamorous, sexy, and dramatic adventures of TV's "Mad Men," most marketers in the '50s and '60s didn't have the wildly imaginative, four-scotch meetings that resulted in revolutionary creative. Far from it. Marketing was still a relatively young practice, and most advertising of the day was simply "explaining" the features of a particular product. Most marketing strategies of the day would probably feel a little alien to us today (or not, as the case might be) with a "sell-as-much-as-we-can" philosophy and a complete disregard for establishing any kind of relationships for the long term.
In fact, part of the interesting transition that we see in Don Draper's behavior on "Mad Men" is this move to a more "emotional" connection with consumers. As Natasha Vargas-Cooper, author of the book "Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America," said in an interview, "In Don's work we see the idea that advertising should be less about arguing the virtues of a product and more about having some sort of emotional connection to it. In the '60s, that was a new idea."
It's been said (almost to the point of cliché at this point) that marketing has been undergoing fundamental changes over the last few years. The explosive growth of digital -- and specifically the social and mobile trends within it -- has made relationship building and emotional connections the primary driver of marketing strategy.
As marketers, we're expected to move faster than ever before -- innovate more quickly, fail more elegantly, and iterate more efficiently. And, certainly, technology has helped us do this. It's made us, in some cases, more effective and efficient, and it certainly provides us the opportunity (although there's no guarantee) for greater insight.
Sometimes those two shifts can feel like conflicting ideas. While we need to develop better, deeper, and more emotional relationships with our customers, we have to do it with a razor-sharp attention to cost, speed, efficiency, and measurable, repeatable growth. It's akin to meeting someone new at a party, having a nice conversation, then asking them to fill out a survey to rate the conversation before you leave.
But, while this pressure to do more with less is on, this is absolutely a golden age for marketers. Like the '50s and '60s, I believe the late 2000s and early "teens" will be reviewed 20 years from now as a seminal moment in marketing's history -- one when what we marketers "do for a living" changed fundamentally. And with it, we change the trajectory for both the art and science of marketing.
In this article, I'll discuss five trends (certainly not all-inclusive) that define this ongoing change. Collectively, these are the reasons that -- today -- we marketers have the best jobs in the world.
It's growing like a weed -- a new type of weed
OK -- we'll start with an easy one. Marketing as a practice is one of the few job sectors that is continuing to grow at the moment. And, the fundamental changes in the practice of marketing are changing the job description -- and creating expansive opportunities for career skills we didn't even know we'd need.
The top-growing job categories for 2011 didn't even exist in 2004 when our newest employees were thinking about going to college. The number of social media jobs has gone up by 600 percent over the past five years. The astronomical growth of social marketing, mobile marketing, content marketing, and other practices has created all new positions on our team.
Additionally, with all the talk about jobs and the economy, it should be noted that the entire marketing category is growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is expected to increase by 13 percent per year through 2018.
We're becoming the storytellers we always wanted to be
OK, let's be honest -- today's marketer probably doesn't have a marketing degree. If you do, then you're the exception, not the rule. In fact, according to some studies, 10 percent of us are English majors that -- well -- didn't make it with that novel or screenplay in our desk.
The shift of marketing into developing "stories" is a big one -- and it's one many of us wanted to explore in our careers. For many of us, we're now the writers that we wanted to be. Seth Godin even changed the name of his book from "All Marketers Are Liars" to "All Marketers Tell Stories." He summed it up well when he said in a blog post:
"Go tell a story. If it doesn't resonate, tell a different one. When you find a story that works, live that story, make it true, authentic and subject to scrutiny. All marketers are storytellers, only the losers are liars."
We're making it up as we go
The bad news for marketers is there's no map, template, or formula for success. The good news? There's no map, template, or formula for success. As marketers today, we get to MacGyver stuff together in all new, innovative ways to achieve marketing success.
There was no template for the Wieden + Kennedy folks who put together the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign. No one knew that taking a traditional print and television campaign and integrating a social video and social media "conversation" angle focused on internet influencers would result in the success it did. That was pure creativity and innovation.
Now, I don't want to go all "years-ago-I-used-to-walk-to-my-cube" on you -- but I can't help but point out how hard it was to get video produced only 10 years ago. Today we can take HD quality video with our phones! Remember how hard it was to create and manage websites? Now we can have a blog up and running in less than half a dozen clicks -- and for $0. Thanks to new, free digital tools that help us manage campaigns, monitor social conversations, create video, and measure success, we have the ability, as very few before us, to wire things together in innovative ways.
Now is the time when we will be as successful as we can be innovative -- and where we will define the future of marketing. You can't ask for more excitement than that.
It's not about advertising any more
Marketing has changed. Past tense. In the days of "Mad Men," marketing was about advertising. Whether or not there was an emotional connection, it's hard to imagine Don Draper trying to figure out how he'd develop an ongoing relationship with customers -- and turn them into "brand evangelists."
Now, the separation between "advertising" and "marketing" has never been more distinct. In fact, just last week David Meerman Scott wrote on his blog about how "marketing is not advertising http://www.webinknow.com/2011/08/marketing-is-not-advertising.html." In it, he appropriately points out:
"Prior to the web, organizations had only two significant choices to attract attention: Buy expensive advertising or get third-party ink from the media. But the web has changed the rules. The web is not TV. Organizations that understand the New Rules of Marketing & PR develop relationships directly with consumers like you and me. That costs zero (unless you count the human resources cost)."
Certainly we can debate the "zero cost" -- but the change couldn't be clearer, and it represents the most exciting and important shift to our jobs since they started. As marketers, we are now so much more than just the people who come up with something "clever," buy some space to display it, and then hope that it resonates with people.
We're now "builders of relationships." We are "storytellers" (see page 2), and our entire function within the business has changed from advertiser to marketer -- or even communicator.
Everybody has two jobs -- and yours is one of them
The old cliché is true. Everybody has two jobs, and marketing is one of them. But guess what -- the reverse is now also true. Marketers now have every job, and one of them is marketing.
Today, our role within the organization has expanded. In many cases, we're working on customer relationships, we're responsible for building evangelists, for building corporate communications, for feeding back information into product development, and for making sure that our CEO doesn't stick his foot in his mouth. In many ways, content (and ultimately communication) today is one of the single most important determinants of our company's success. We can have a great product or a crappy product, but if we don't have a good story to tell, tell it well, and build relationships with our consumers, we will fail.
Zappos is a great example of this. CEO Tony Hsieh has focused his entire company on building relationships with customers -- and thus transformed customer service into the marketing organization. As he said on his blog in 2009:
"With the Internet connecting everyone together, companies are becoming more and more transparent whether they like it or not. An unhappy customer or a disgruntled employee can blog about bad experience with a company, and the story can spread like wildfire."
As such, the skill of marketing is one that is pervasive through the entire organization. As Peter Drucker said, "Leadership is a marketing job." He believed that an organization's leader is ultimately responsible for its success or failure. And, to that end, the leader has to be able to communicate a believable and desired story to those who he's leading. An effective leader must never stop developing and working on promoting a compelling and effective story that creates the demand within the organization.
So, in short, as marketing changes (and we change), so does effective leadership.
The best job we can create
Of course, our ability to create and maintain the best jobs in the world assumes we take our opportunity and run with it. As much as marketing is changing everything we know, it's changing little that we do. It's still about the fundamentals -- content, conversation, differentiation, persuasion, and ultimately relationships.
This is what really makes marketing in this time the best job in the world. Your ultimate value as a marketer in whatever organization you work for isn't producing 10 more leads per month, 35 percent more traffic, or a 25 percent reduction in cost-per-acquisition.
No, your ultimate value is in the unique you that you bring to the marketing organization. Today, as marketers, you create value through the human connections you forge through personal relationships. Your value is the compelling content you create while telling the story of the organization. Your value is the "big idea" that makes the brand immersive and experiential -- in short, a belief.
And that value isn't measured in a dashboard or by bullet points on a resume. It's measured in your experience. Your story. Your beliefs.
It's our time to make them remarkable.
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