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Information and insight has been widely recognised as the new oil within organisations, but has this movement towards ‘big data’ led to an evolution in the DNA of the modern marketer?

Historically, marketers hail back to the golden age of advertising, versed in the art of creativity, punchy headlines and establishing product USPs. The stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap philosophy of the early 20th Century spilled into the world of marketing as brands competed for market share.

The next wave of marketing evolution saw a more sophisticated approach to the buyer. Who are they? What are their purchasing triggers? What are their challenges and what do they want to see/hear from us? The birth of CRM saw a more consider approach to selling. Buyer journeys and sales funnels were more closely scrutinised. The age of analytics and accountability had well and truly arrived.

Fast forward to current day. Data has become invaluable and marketing is now a highly reactive and informed beast. Marketing communications are user led with interactions happening every few minutes, instead of weeks or months. Automation of marketing operations has meant content is predetermined and triggered by a set of rules. So, who sets these rules? Well marketers do.

But, here’s the rub, has the pendulum of the marketers skill set totally swung from right brain to left brain bias? On first glance, it appears so.

The next generation marketer

How many marketing jobs are now advertised specifying in-depth knowledge of CRM, automation and analytics platforms as an essential skill? How many marketing graduates are now equipped with some degree of coding acumen? The answer to both is the vast majority.

This begs the question, is there still a place for traditional know-how? Are skills such as the identifying the 7P’s, SOSTAC, acquisition and retention strategies, audience profiling and creative nous now redundant? Clearly not, but if left unchecked a decline in these skills can leave marketing campaigns exclusively dependant on data and low on ideas.

Machine learning, AI and Big data can’t be ignored and it would be foolhardy to do so. All provide organisations with unprecedented levels of customer insight that 20 years ago would have been impossible to collect, let alone analyse. This raft of information flooding into the business has, in its own right, cannibalised the role of the marketer. Being able to analyse and action data is a unique skill and one that should be embraced, but here is the million-dollar question. Should organisations be focusing exclusively on employing the new wave of marketing ‘geek’ at the expense of more traditional practitioners?

What’s the trade off?

A purely analytical approach to marketing will ultimately be number driven. The movement through the sales funnel is scoring based, attribution modelling can determine channel, persona and collateral hot beds and data can be mined to give the campaign the greatest chance of success, but does ‘all this science’ come at a cost? Ultimately yes, referring to the left brain, right brain balancing act, analytics informs and drives marketing but it doesn’t create the silver bullets that ultimately convert prospects to customers require a completely different type of marketer.

Yes, the ‘geek’ marketers are here to stay but it would be marketing suicide to give them exclusive power to call the marketing shots while ignoring or even replacing traditional skillsets.

Take a look at our quick guide to discover how content can be more ‘killer’ and less ‘filler’.

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