January 15, 2014

What kind of marketer are you?

"What kind of marketer are you?"

It's a great question and, coincidentally, over the past few months, I was asked this question a lot by different start up executives at various events. I am happy to be hearing the question more regularly because it demonstrates an increased understanding about the breadth of the marketing discipline and differences among marketing professionals. 

We know that the most effective marketing teams require a wide range of talent to effectively address the revenue and growth needs of each of our unique businesses. And while every marketer needs to be data driven, you must not hyper-focus solely on optimization or you will lose sight of the forest for the trees.

Who do you need on the team?

This fun infographic summarizes some marketing roles (personas) that are on today's best marketing teams: a web designer/developer, a content creator, a technologist, an analyst and a campaign manager. In addition, every well-stocked marketing team also needs professionals focused on user insights, branding/positioning and as well as on pricing and packaging. And depending on your business, you may also need marketers focused on sales readiness and programs for upsell and activation.

Effective marketing leaders are able to align all of these different specialists around one integrated marketing strategy. Of course each marketing leader has his/her unique strengths, weaknesses, blind spots and areas of genius and these are informed by both her inherent DNA and his unique path to leadership. Some, like me, "come up" through quantitative acquisition marketing with its analytic rigor while others "come up" through branding or PR or creative tracks.

Regardless of how any one leader starts their marketing career, in order to be effective in today's marketing environment, they must understand and appreciate how each specialty works and how each complements the other. Without this understanding and appreciation, a leader runs the risk of crafting and executing a lopsided strategy.

And business priorities can and will change from year to year. Today's marketing teams must be flexible and, potentially, virtual. Marketing teams need to stay nimble and be constantly skating to where the puck is going to be (Wayne Gretzky). I prefer to lean on consultants and agencies for critical, specialized activities and hire marketing professionals who can strategize, manage and lead multiple activities and only those functions where we need to own that core marketing competency in the long term. But these kinds of decisions are specific to each business.

Leaders think beyond their specialty.
For those up and coming marketing-leaders-in-the-making, my advice is to find ways to extend your horizons beyond your current specialty. Talk with your current manager and find external mentors. Find opportunities to spend time with other marketing specialists on your team and learn from them. Lay the groundwork now because this insight and experience will be necessary when you're running the show one day!