Marketing Competencies

Discomfort and Becoming A Believer in Digital Marketing

I’ve written previously on the imperitive for marketers to develop a new set of skills to thrive in this ‘brave, new world’ where traditional marketing tactics are increasingly enabled by digital means (The Future of Marketing).  There is no question that the skills required for today’s marketer to be successful are quite different from what was previously required.  So it’s obvious that I’m a believer, but I wasn’t always.  So what, you may ask, motivated my conversion?  The answer lies in discomfort.

First, Admit You Have a Problem

How many times have you heard a marketer express discomfort with questions proving that their programs are working, defending investment in their initiatives, or reporting generally on campaign ROI?  I know that prior to embracing this new way of marketing I felt discomfort frequently.  This was because the metrics I needed to prove the value of my programs were not readily available — I had an analytics problem.

The “Aha” Moment

It was Dreamforce ’11 and I was attending a session led by Brian Halligan (HubSpot). He spoke about how the changes in how today’s consumer researched brands required a fundamentally different approach to marketing.  Intrigued, I then attended sessions led by marketers from many industries who confidently spoke of the metrics they tracked, how they used those metrics to report to senior leadership and gain alignment with sales.  My mind was blown.

From then I began exploring the new tools available to today’s marketer:  content marketing, SEM, social media marketing, marketing automation and the myriad of digital channels to engage with my audience. All of a sudden I could see how these tools could show me which content was driving engagement, which channels my audience valued most, what messages were resonating and where in the funnel I was getting the greatest drop-off.  And what was sweetest was that I didn’t need to rely on an outside agency to generate this reporting. It was my “aha” moment and it was truly exhilarating.  I’ve used this story to motivate my colleagues and team to endeavor to make the same transition.

Become A Student of The New Way

What has been most important for me during this journey has been continuous learning. I now dedicate time on a daily basis to learn more about digital marketing and attending in person events when feasilble.  I’ve learned that in most cases, someone has wrestled with the same issues I am wrestling with and I can invariably learn from their experience.

Is my journey over? No. I’m still working to strengthening my and my team’s analytical skills and  gaining buy in from senior leadership for marketing programs. As with many things it’s a process.   But what I can say is that those moments of discomfort, the fear of defending marketing spend and reporting on campaign progress … I’m having way fewer of those.


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