Marketing Today: Stand Still And You'll Be Left Behind

Jennifer Schulze

If you’ve ever seen the ‘80s classic film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” you may remember this line: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The same could be said about the field of marketing—it moves fast, and if you don’t stop and look around you might find it’s moved on without you. The key to keeping up is to master the skills needed today and keep learning those required for tomorrow. In this blog series, I’ll share a few of these required skills, as well as what traits marketers will need to thrive in the future.

Marketing skills trinity: empathy, creativity, and strategy

As customers become more digitally savvy and content-fatigued, marketers will need a new set of skills to connect, engage, and convert. Critical among these skills will be the ability to listen with empathy, to think creatively, and to think like your target audience. This means knowing them well, marketing to them in the moment, and determining what assets or tactics are needed to achieve the job to be done.

Analytics and empathy make for happier customers

Yes, we’re going to talk about empathy more than once—it’s that important. Empathy keeps customers; indifference loses them. And losing them after investing heavily to gain them is a shame. The focus on existing customers drives profitability, loyalty, and even new business. Customer expectations are evolving rapidly. To evolve with them, the marketer of the future needs data from multiple touchpoints and an empathetic and holistic view of who a customer is and what they need at all times, in order to provide value to the relationship at every opportunity.

Better synergy and collaboration

In a world where customers engage with multiple contacts within a business, often in the public forum of social media, it is imperative that organizations speak with one unified voice. Even departments that do not directly contact customers affect customer experience. It’s time for organizations to get everyone marching to the beat of the same drum. Synergistic collaboration across teams, greater data transparency, and a shared understanding of how each department’s objectives, tactics, and goals affect the others can foster a new and revolutionary sense of camaraderie that ultimately serves the customer’s best interest.

The changing reign of content

Content marketing continues to reign supreme, but its dynasty is evolving. Customer-centric marketing will demand that marketers be able to craft well-written, creative narratives—also known as stories—to attract, inspire, and inform customers. They also need to be able to think beyond the campaign mindset of singular messaging and fixed assets. Content marketing in the future is adaptable, modular, and communal. It needs to be delivered in mobile and customized in interesting ways. This quote from marketing consultant C. Brogan speaks to this: “The key is, no matter what story you tell, make your buyer the hero.”

Marketing in the post-digital age

It’s an exciting time to be in marketing. Innovations like augmented realities, IoT, and artificial intelligence are changing the rules of the game every day—not to mention exciting new concepts like the blending of live and digital experiences and programmatic marketing. Marketers are inherently curious and creative. There is no better time than now to be innovative around the key trends of today—delivering them equipped with the skills for the future.

Given the impact and need to fully embrace marketing skills and trends, this is the first of a series of conversations about the future of marketing. Better understanding the enhanced role of marketing, how we succeed as marketers of the future, and what skills we’ll need to master is key. It’s a tremendous opportunity to drive business impact—and lead the charge. As stated by Beth Comstock, “Know thyself. Know the customer. Innovate.” If we do this, we never stop re-inventing. We also get the added benefit of driving creativity in our marketing roles, today and every day.

For more insight on skills that position you for future success, see Three In-Demand Skills Every Marketer Should Have In 2017

About Jennifer Schulze

Jennifer Schulze is Vice President of marketing for SAP. In her role, she manages customer marketing as part of the office of the COO. She has over 15 years of technology marketing and management experience and is a small business owner in the San Francisco Bay area.