Research for April Stress Awareness month found that Marketing and PR are among the ten most stressful UK jobs.
Some outside the industry may question this, but for those on the marketing coalface, coming up with original ideas and turning them into reality to make a product or service stand out can be a relentless, and often demanding process.
The rapid adoption of digital marketing and the almost constant growth and changes in platforms and marketing practices has compounded this. The role of a marketer is no longer tackling a challenge based on experience with tried and tested methods of attracting customers but is one that requires constant learning and evolution to keep up – no matter what rung of the career ladder you currently sit.
We spoke to senior marketers working across the Channel and asked them what digital transformation has meant for their role – have they managed to keep up or do they suffer from senior marketer imposter syndrome as the once tried and tested marketing practices are overtaken by new creative approaches?
How has the marketing role changed?
“Things have certainly changed since taking my first marketing job nearly 20 years ago. Not only have the tools and technology seen a dramatic evolution, but we’re also today facing a buyer profile that requires an organisation to deliver what they need, where they want it, and when they need it. The days of large-scale print and broadcast awareness campaigns to take a new product to market are long gone… and the world of marketing has become significantly better because of it.
And, yet, despite the evolution we’ve seen since 2011 when the usage of the internet overtook TV viewership, one thing remains constant for B2B marketers – buyers prioritise trusted relationships over all else when making a purchasing decision.” Tim DaRosa, Chief Marketing Officer at Zadara
How do you manage to keep up?
“A hunger for learning across all levels of the team is essential, but particularly for senior leaders. From courses and in-depth reports to webinars and podcasts, keeping up to date needs to be a daily task.
It’s important to remember however that a marketing leader’s role is to provide direction and strategy – we need to understand how new digital trends can feed into and influence the strategy and outcomes, but we mustn’t get too bogged down with knowing the intricacies of how they work. We should build teams of employees and third parties to do this for us.” Shaan Sood, Head of International Marketing at Sangoma
“I have a daily time block dedicated to reading the latest industry news and blogs – especially those mentioning my customers. We’ve also instituted an internal process alongside sales where qualification calls with prospects are recorded so that our internal team can continuously learn about any new or interesting customer use cases and share the information easily across time zones. You’d be surprised how much you can learn by listening to a handful of prospect qualification calls every week; it has helped to produce entirely new cadences and has led to the development of numerous industry-specific pieces of content simply based on hearing the real-world business challenges that our customers are facing.” Tim DaRosa, Chief Marketing Officer at Zadara
“I try to dedicate time every week to reading and doing desk research – that might be as simple as reading the latest in Marketing Week or scanning the updates from my peer network on LinkedIn. I do like to get out to a few trusted marketing events per year – these have been virtual for the past two years and I’m pleased that this year they are returning to in-person.
I enjoy being able to network with marketing professionals from all different industries, share their experiences and pick up best practices and inspiration from others. I’ve found that actively recruiting interns and work placements into the marketing team is a great way to bring new and exciting ideas to the table. Insights and views that we perhaps wouldn’t think about or consider in the traditional B2B marketing mix.” Louise Mahrra, Head of Marketing at CAE Technology Services.
Are long-standing marketing fundamentals still key or have they been overtaken and made redundant?
“While things have advanced because of digital transformation, there remains a role for marketing fundamentals, which we mustn’t forget.
As marketers, we now have the tools to understand customer behaviours more than ever before, and the ever-advancing MarTech landscape allows for precision targeting through an array of digital tools and technologies to inform, plan, and execute campaigns.
However, marketers need to be careful not to obsess over the granularity of data now readily available. Tried and tested methods of communicating our brands to customers who may or may not be in the market, remain key.” Paul Sinclair, Marketing Director at Zen Internet
“Marketing techniques and disciplines are always evolving but rushing to throw money and resources behind every new channel and tool without understanding what your audience needs won’t automatically result in productivity gains. You need to balance where your audience is, keep your activity relevant and consider bringing an even sharper edge to your messaging and targeting. Every new trend is not going to necessarily be right for your target audience or fit your business approach and model.” Louise Mahraa, Head of Marketing at CAE Technology Services.
Is senior level Imposter Syndrome a reality? The short answer is yes!
“I think the single biggest risk with not keeping up with digital marketing trends is not being able to develop effective relationships with the modern-day customer. Especially in the post-pandemic world we live in today, the importance of understanding how customer needs is evolving is critical. If this happens, then absolutely there’s a risk of increased pressure from management as the ability to generate growth for the business comes into question and, as all marketing leaders know, numbers are hard impossible to hide from.” Tim DaRosa, Chief Marketing Officer at Zadara.
“Speaking for myself, absolutely. Terminology and jargon change quickly and it’s easy to feel outdated in a very short amount of time. I love hiring fresh talent that brings a different approach and depth of understanding of current trends. These people help me counter those feelings, and a bit of reverse mentoring (i.e., them coaching me) is something I am never ashamed to be involved in.” Peter Gullick, Marketing Director at Retail Marketing Group
“Yes, especially with the pace of change. Investing time every week to understand what’s going on in the marketing world will go a long way in ensuring you retain confidence, as will keeping in tune with your customers.
At Zen, we also work closely with partners and their teams which helps senior leaders stay up to date with digital trends in a wide variety of tech businesses. Information and learning are then fed back into the wider marketing team so that we’re all continually developing.” Paul Sinclair, Marketing Director at Zen Internet
What is the perfect marketing team mix? Senior leaders or new arrivals with new skills?
“Having been in the marketing area for several decades, it is essential to have a marketing team that is representative of your potential customer base. While there is always value in having senior leaders who understand core marketing principles and can share historical knowledge, the marketing landscape is moving so quickly that having younger members of the team is invaluable. Over the past few decades, I have seen many new platforms emerge that people of my generation didn’t understand – platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. If your marketing team didn’t have people who were using these platforms regularly, it could miss out on some of the most powerful platforms for marketing. Even if your organisation doesn’t market to younger generations, there can still be benefits of understanding what younger people are doing since those concepts can soon work their way into marketing platforms that are relevant to your customer base.” Adam Greco, Product Evangelist at Amplitude