When I started my career in high-tech public relations in 1994, I had no idea how quickly and profoundly my perspective on marketing as a profession would change. I started dabbling in the web in 1995 and by 1996 I was optimizing websites. I spent the next decade trying to convince my PR and marketing cohorts that the internet was going to change our profession forever, with limited success. Since then, I've come to realize the expanding realm of digital has impacted all aspects of marketing and we will see the most significant changes in job titles in the next five years.
There are a host of factors that are driving the coming changes, including technology, evolving communication techniques, and media consumption preferences. Trying to keep up with rapidly evolving tools, platforms, and internet memes can be exhausting. One way to stay above the fray is to manage your career toward a strategy and management role. Know enough to be dangerous, but leave the details to others. Unfortunately, the "others" job titles will be evolving as much as yours, so there will also be a need to continually recruit, retool, and grow the team around you.
Marketing evolution = career opportunity
Before we worry about building the team around you, let's cover a few ideas on your evolving role in your organization. In a recent article, "7 ideas to drastically improve your digital marketing," I outlined a few new roles the corporate and agency world should be looking to create. A related article outlined a few complementary forward-looking roles, including chief revenue officer (CRO), chief content officer (COO), chief marketing technologist (CMT), and digital analytics specialist. These roles share a common goal: tying sales with marketing through content, technology, and measurement.
If the marketing roles of the future seem too far out of reach, you can focus your energy in the short-term on roles that are currently in huge demand across the country. According to recent research, all of these digital-centric marketing roles and responsibilities are in greatest demand.
- Market research
- Ecommerce manager
- Online advertising
- PPC search manager
- Community manager
- Web developer
- User experience (UX) designer
The roles below will see significant change in the next five years, to the point you may not recognize daily responsibilities as compared to today's job description. Fret not, as you have three to five years' time to fine-tune your game to remain relevant.
- Digital agency account manager
- Digital marketing manager
- Organic search / SEO manager
- Social media manager
- Email marketing manager
The following roles are hot now and will continue to remain in-demand for years to come. For more information, check out this B2C article.
- Integrated marketing strategy
- Website manager
- Content marketing manager
- Digital content editor/curator
- Analytics manager
- Customer journey/experience
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
Marketing evolution = career challenges
While digital-driven evolution creates opportunity, it has and will make traditional roles and expertise obsolete in the next five years and beyond. There are a host of factors that are driving this change. To understand trends is to take the first step toward adapting and thriving. Ignore these trends and risk an unemployment check in your near future. At a high level, the following trends are forcing old dogs to learn new tricks:
- Increased integration of digital and traditional marketing. Trans-media campaigns are the new norm.
- Continued growth of content marketing and measurement. Anticipating consumer demand and adding value while differentiating from competitors will be the standard.
- Explosive growth in adoption of mobile and video marketing. Mobilizing your marketing and capturing your world in HD video will become the price of admission.
- Greater specialization. While some experts predict roles will become more generalized, I believe the opposite is true. Brands will need experts across mobile, video, search, social, and analytics to develop, manage, and measure campaigns.
- Greater focus on the customer experience and lifecycle. As supported by current job demand, the need for usability and user-centered design will converge with sales and marketing automation and CRM platform expertise to maximize lifetime customer value. Follow the money to career success.
Starting with the future and working backwards, we can see the patterns start to emerge. Based on developing digital trends and related market factors, I've highlighted five marketing jobs that I believe will be dead in the next five years. If you are in one of the current roles below, you may want to rethink your career.
Traditional advertising professionals
If you are still holding onto the romantic notion that the Mad Men era lives on today, you may be in for a rough ride. When large brands like Esurance, JC Penney, and others elect to forgo traditional advertising during the Super Bowl and instead invest in digital campaigns, the writing is on the wall. Print-only designers, copywriters, and media buyers will have to become media-agnostic to survive, period. Print isn't dead, but it is shrinking. Broadcast is trying to hold its ground, but traditionally focused marketing roles are losing momentum to a more integrated and media-agnostic approach. Traditional media buyers, in particular, will need to embrace programmatic planning and forecasting tools to implement, optimize, analyze, and report campaigns of the future.
Traditional public relations professionals
As I mentioned in the opening of this article, I've been astounded how slowly the PR profession has embraced digital. While corporate and agency PR professionals have largely accepted the need to connect with online media, influencers, and the like, they are now burdened with additional challenges. One is compression of traditional media (fewer editors covering more beats) and the media's need to create new revenue streams (including paying for placement). Another trend is the changing fundamentals of PR, including the death of the press release and martini lunches with editors and reporters. There is opportunity for the PR world, however. Smart PR pros have expanded their expertise to include social media outreach, community management, and content marketing.
Digital marketing specialist
While demand may be high for digital marketers today, the need will decrease as traditional marketers adapt, the market saturates, and overall discipline maturity drives further specialization. Generic titles such as "digital marketing specialist" and "digital strategist" will be replaced by titles that more accurately describe evolved, specified disciplines like paid search, organic search, content marketing, and user experience. The term "digital" will become both too broad and antiquated. Roles will become media agnostic, not differentiating traditional from digital. Most importantly, the roles that matter most will focus on management and strategy, and less on tactical implementation.
Email and affiliate marketing managers
A note to all you email and affiliate managers out there: I'm not saying your job is going away completely, but it will be changing. I predict these roles will be absorbed into higher-profile jobs within the organization. Specifically, evolving roles around sales and marketing automation, CRM, and more generalized website, search, social, or analytics manager-type titles will add these disciplines as line item responsibilities. Current email and affiliate management tools will become integrated into MA/CRM platforms and shopping carts as technology catches up with client needs.
Social media manager/expert
I've been here before, so I'm saving the best for last. As you may know from my previous writings, I'm not a fan of the concept of the social media manager. In fact, I penned the article "Why you should fire your social media marketing manager" in frustration years ago. Not to be one without solutions, I suggested that social media managers will be replaced by a social media evangelist, customer service representatives, and other experts within the organization. As outlined in my articles, the reasoning for this is multi-faceted:
- Recent graduates (who may be savvy with social media) know virtually nothing about the brand, company history, mature communications skills, or business in general.
- Nobody is better suited to manage a brand than those that have worked within or helped develop that brand. It is much easier to teach a discipline expert the fundamentals of social media than teach a recent graduate the nuances of your brand or business.
- As the market matures, even "old dogs" can learn new tricks, like posting status updates on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If we at Anvil Media can teach universities administrators and car dealership employees how to embrace and leverage social media, so can you.
You may disagree with my predictions, but you also may also find yourself unemployed in the next five years. It is up to you to decide the cost of being wrong in your beliefs and assumptions. Meanwhile, I will move forward with my "tradigital" career focus and keep working toward a self-guided retirement.
"Yellow road warning sign," image via Shutterstock.