The marketer's balancing act

The marketer's balancing act

TFM&A is the show that fuels the modern marketer's mind by covering the industry's hot topics. Here's a preview of just one area that's driving the 2014 event.

Professional development is just one of the four key areas in which Technology for Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A) supports visitors from across the UK’s marketing, media and advertising industry.

Over the next four pages, we put forward two highly topical questions to some of our leading keynote speakers for their thoughts and insights. We asked Philippa Snare, chief marketing officer, Microsoft UK; Selina Sykes, ecommerce director, Unilever; Kristof Fahy, chief marketing officer, William Hill; and Dr Dave Chaffey, digital strategist and CEO,, what they think about the key issues facing marketers in their career development. On the next page, we ask how marketers should address the challenge of reaching consumers in different, and changing, generations and demographics.

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Specialist vs. generalist marketing: risky road to niche alley or necessary evolution?

Kristof Fahy, chief marketing officer, William Hill Haven’t there always been specialist and generalist marketers? It’s simply that, as the profession has evolved, more specialisms have developed. The key thing for me is passion for what you do.

Marketers should try to build as wide a knowledge as they possibly can. The more elements of the marketing mix they can have a working understanding of, the better; having that wider view will always be useful. So the question of generalisation vs specialism for me is about passion and what’s going to get you excited every day.

Marketing teams need to be fluid, open to change and constantly curious. In-house team structures need to flex, adapt and never lose their focus – namely, the customer and driving revenue. 

If structures are too rigid, a team will probably have only one way to act and it becomes too hard to make changes. However, too much flexibility and it could become like a primary-school football game where everyone is just chasing the ball. A balance is the answer, and a team mindset where change and flexibility are welcomed are good places to start or to develop over time.

Dr Dave Chaffey, digital strategist and CEO, Digital marketing has had a huge impact on the type of roles needed to manage marketing activities, since the devil is in the detail and specialist skills are needed to drive efficiencies.

Consider the six core digital marketing communi­cations tools identified in my book, Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice – that’s search (SEO and PPC), online PR, partnerships (including affiliate marketing), online advertising, email marketing and social media (with different organic and paid ad tools across each of the five main networks).

Then there are the complexities added by tech platforms such as mobile, against smartphone, against desktop, and conversion-rate optimisation on these platforms. I know of one major online retailer of white goods that has a separate team to develop the optimal experience on each of desktop, mobile and tablet.

Specialist agencies have thrived in these areas and in-company roles often focus on one of these in bigger companies.

The evolving needs of businesses, based on how their consumers use media, will ensure these specialist roles are here to stay, since the rate at which platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn innovate means they are needed to keep up to date with the latest techniques and select from the ever-growing number of options.

In 2013 there was a lot of discussion suggesting that digital marketing would become part of marketing and cease to exist as a separate marketing discipline. I don’t see this in the real world of managing marketing activities and jobs.

Indeed, the number of specialists in digital roles is growing and generalists are involved in digital marketing over more of their activities. The growth in importance of digital channels presents a huge challenge to how marketers integrate their communications when, potentially, digital silos are created.

In a recent survey by and TFM&A 2014, the findings of which I will present at the event, we looked at how companies were approaching integration. Only a quarter felt their integration of digital and traditional channels was adequate.

As a marketer, a Smart Tag helps me track and monitor the real results of my activity and to optimise in real time the weighting I place on activity so that I can maximise business impact. This is a skill I want all marketers to have.

Businesses need to find the right balance between generalists and specialists. In 2013 the concept of the T-shaped marketer has evolved – a good method of reconciling specialist and generalist within a company. The T-shaped marketer has a wide breadth of basic knowledge across digital marketing, but specialises in one area such as SEO, UX or display. In smaller businesses, we need to see a W-shaped marketer, who has several core skills with a deep knowledge.

Content in advertising

Through 2013 and, now, into 2014, the growth in interest and use of content marketing among marketers has been phenomenal.

One of the reasons for this is that it provides a means to integrate communications and generalists to manage them. Effective content marketing integrates SEO, PR and social-media marketing and is important to brand-building and engagement too.

Marketing generalists can own content marketing as a means of integrating communications across the customer life cycle. I’m also seeing more integrated specialist customer acquisition roles integrating content marketing, SEO, social media and PR.

Many organisations are now structured based on the customer life cycle with separate resource for customer acquisition, conversion and retention, which should include both digital and traditional marketing communications with content marketing important across all.

What is your favourite piece of marketing technology?

Kristof Fahy, William Hill
I don’t have one favourite.  I love technology, its possibilities and the potential to help drive smarter, better marketing. There are the "big" solutions and there seems to be a constant factory of great niche solutions – it’s about being open to the possibility that each one offers and maintaining curiosity at all times.

Philippa Snare, Microsoft UK
I love marketing technology that helps me get stuff done more quickly and easily as a person in life, not as a marketer.

On this basis, the best piece of marketing tech I have used recently has been the Smart Tag. It helps me find, buy, or learn more about whatever it is I am engaging with – whether that is via TV, out-of-home or print – and get to the point quickly.

As a marketer it helps me track and monitor the real results of my activity and to optimise in real time the weighting I place on activity so that I can maximise business impact. This is a skill I want all marketers to have.

If you are a great marketer, you know what technology is available. You then combine the best bits to get to the best possible outcome for  the business, quickly and with data, to help drive ongoing decisions.

What’s your opinion? Share your thoughts with us #tfma2014  #specialistgeneralist  @tfma_event


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