Marketing departments everywhere are grappling with a sharp paradigm shift.
They used to be the sole rulers of their brands’ domains, with iron-clad control of the messages distributed about their products. Now, consumers have wrestled the power away from marketing departments as they flock to social networks, forums and other digital outlets on a variety of devices to broadcast their frank opinions about products and services.
All of this big data that consumers reveal about themselves in different digital paths provide a wide variety of opportunities for marketers to tailor their messages more effectively than ever before. But this shift away from traditional marketing requires new skills for marketers.
In fact, the profession has been completely transformed with the arrival of big data, according to Rory Finlay, who leads the Global Consumer Products Practice of executive search firm Egon Zehnder.
“Consumers used to be anonymous, [and] businesses marketed to large demographic groups, differentiated by lifestyle attributes,” Finlay notes in a recent Forbes blog post. “But increasingly, marketing now targets individual consumers whose behaviors and preferences can be known and predicted with remarkably nuanced precision. At the same time, digital marketing is vastly increasing the number of consumer touch points.”
As a result, marketers have to determine the right offers to make to each customer at the best time through the best touch point, he adds.
As marketers scramble to keep up with the rapid pace of change created by the big data deluge, they are forced to make trade-offs, notes Dick Patton, who leads Egon Zehnder’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Practice, in the Forbes post.
“Marketers who can plug holes in the company’s mastery of big data, digital marketing and social media may lack experience and proficiency in building brands, in crafting marketing strategies to drive growth in traditional companies, or in leading big teams,” he says.
“No doubt, some will also struggle to mesh with a more traditional company’s business culture,” he adds. “In that case, the CEO’s coveted new marketing leaders may wind up working essentially in their own silos, separate from traditional marketers, without any overall integration of their efforts. The brand will then fragment.”
To mitigate this risk, Patton suggests that CEOs search for marketers who can integrate new digital marketing strategies with traditional marketing fundamentals.
Research firm IDC agrees with Patton’s assessment.
Marketers will need to adapt or die in the new digital Age of the Customer, according to IDC.
“Buyers are never, ever, ever offline; I don’t care what industry they are in,” says IDC analyst Kathleen Schaub in a CMSWire story.
While consumers have gained some power over marketers through the social Web, marketers can regain some of that control through technology like big data analytics, she adds.
IDC predicts that 50% of new marketing hires going forward will need technical backgrounds.
“Half of the people going into marketing will need to have IT, analytics, operations or some combination in their background. In fact, most of the new marketing jobs are going to be in positions that didn’t even exist a few years ago,” according to the CMSWire story. “Among the companies surveyed by IDC, the fastest growing marketing job types were in campaign management and other marketing science jobs.”
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