tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/skills-capabilities Latest Skills & capabilities content from Econsultancy 2018-05-10T10:05:00+01:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/70004 2018-05-10T10:05:00+01:00 2018-05-10T10:05:00+01:00 Why career progression is broken in digital marketing agencies Clark Boyd <p>Solutions are prioritized over questions; ‘quick wins’ over long-term thinking; and meaningless titles over genuine knowledge.</p> <p>We want simplicity without enduring the necessary complexity to get there. But if we’re always grabbing ‘low-hanging fruit’, true progress will remain beyond our grasp.</p> <p>During my years at digital marketing agencies, I observed some interesting phenomena in this regard. The agencies I worked at differed greatly in their size and sophistication, which provides a useful frame of reference.</p> <p>As a relatively nascent discipline, there are no set guidelines for managing the progression of what is quite a sizeable digital marketing workforce. I felt this on a personal level, but I witnessed it across large groups of colleagues too.</p> <blockquote> <p>Where will the PPC account managers of today be in 40 years? Is ‘client strategy’ a 50-year career?</p> </blockquote> <p>Not everyone can be CEO by 30, so we need some new ideas to keep people motivated and moving forward.</p> <p>Predictably, we tend to reach for easy answers rather than engaging directly with a problem that won't just go away.</p> <p>People are promoted before they are ready, just to appease staff in the immediate short-term. </p> <p>I have recently enjoyed a varied and rewarding year working for myself, and in my attempts to re-skill and move into more ambitious areas like data analysis and teaching, I have a lingering sense of disappointment with the lack of progress I achieved in my last permanent role. Yet, I also have an increased sense of understanding when considering some important questions. </p> <p><strong>Namely:</strong></p> <ul> <li>How can we balance accelerated career progression with increased maturity and leadership skills?</li> <li>Are we acting in staff’s long-term interests by promoting them so quickly?</li> <li>Is it truly possible to specialize and master one area of digital marketing, then transfer to a ‘cross-channel’ role?</li> <li>How much time should we spend addressing our weaknesses, as opposed to accentuating our strengths?</li> <li>What constitutes effective leadership in a culture that demands instant reward?</li> </ul> <p>I questioned these areas while working as a full-time employee, but was too close to the scene to consider it with anything other than pure subjectivity.</p> <p>Moreover, the experience of working at digital marketing agencies remains fresh enough for me to root any ruminations at least partly in the empirical rather than the purely ideal.</p> <h3>How we got here</h3> <p>We are all finding our feet in the digital world, but not everyone cares to admit it.</p> <p>This is an industry built on promises to answer long-lasting questions, such as the true return on marketing spend. It makes for great sales speak, but as an industry we have not questioned the underpinnings of our work nearly enough. </p> <p>A healthy dialogue is emerging though, as we wrestle with the challenges of accurate attribution, click fraud, and the true meaning of a ‘customer-centric’ digital business model. Search, in particular, is becoming a much more interesting discipline as AI leads us towards accurate visual and voice search.</p> <p>In short, the industry is growing up. </p> <p>Many traditional marketers have moved into the digital space, but many others have entered a digital marketing role straight from college. </p> <p>This sizeable workforce plays host to a range of uncertainties and imbalances. For example, some of the most knowledgeable digital marketers within a company are also those with the least work experience.</p> <p>This occurs because they have specialized in an area of digital and are abreast of the latest developments, while those further up the chain simply do not have the time to do so. This younger generation also does not even recognize a distinction between the digital and the analogue. </p> <p>Simultaneously, the significance of digital continues to grow. This places greater emphasis on the skills that digital specialists possess.</p> <p>The historical models for career progression no longer fit, as a result. In their place, nothing of true merit has been proposed. I have worked at agencies that have discussed the ‘industrialization’ of digital marketing within their workforce, which remains a spectacular missing of the point.</p> <p>Turning people into machines won’t work; nor will the reverse. Something will always be lost in transition.</p> <p>Throw in the stereotypical (but oft accurate) view of the younger generation as more demanding than their older counterparts and we end up with 25 year-old heads of department.</p> <p>There is nothing innately wrong with this and some of the typical objections tend to come from those who simply wish they had been granted the same responsibility at such an inchoate stage of their development.</p> <p>We do, however, have a duty to nurture careers and create rounded leaders with a broad range of skills, especially the softer skills such as people management. Throwing people in at the deep end as ‘reward’ for excelling at their specialism is short-sighted and possibly even negligent.</p> <p>I have experienced this first-hand and do not pretend to have the right answers. That said, I’ve certainly encountered some of the wrong ones.</p> <p><strong>The core question that sits with me is: how can we take a specialist in one area of digital marketing and turn them into an expert in multiple channels, with the ability not only to set cross-discipline strategy but also lead a team?</strong></p> <p>It is a question requiring a thoughtful answer, because this situation is rarely just hypothetical.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/4501/Clark_Boyd.png" alt="clark boyd" width="600" height="300"></p> <h3>‘Branching out’</h3> <p>A marketer that performs exceptionally in one area of digital - paid social, for example - will reach a point where they inevitably want to ‘branch out’ and become more ‘holistic’. </p> <p>If that sounds vague, it’s because it is. It’s also the best we have and I would posit that it’s not good enough.</p> <p>In lieu of an agreed and effective language to discuss these challenges, we are left with platitudes and nebulous promises of progression.</p> <p>If one is promoted to head of paid social by the age of, say, 25 years old, there is still a lot of road left to run in that particular career. Having received so many promotions in so few years, expectations have been set high. Such an ambitious person will naturally start looking for the next rung on the ladder and will not want to stay in situ for too long.</p> <p>A convenient answer would be that this is an ever-developing field and new opportunities will always open up. Paid social will keep evolving and new specialisms we haven’t even thought of yet will spring up, too.</p> <p>That is overly convenient, however.</p> <p>We need to tie progression to more than just a hierarchy if we are to prepare people to avail of an uncertain, but potentially lucrative, future.</p> <p>Perhaps the most worrying trend I have seen in relation to career development in this industry is the creation of ‘cross-channel’ teams without any genuine thought on how staff will be prepared for these roles. </p> <p>In the immediate short term, this can satiate the desire of high-performers to progress their careers.</p> <p>At some agencies, senior managers prefer to take the easy route rather than act in staff’s long-term interests. Promotions and titles are handed out at the slightest hint of restlessness, which actually can put staff at something of an impasse. Many interview elsewhere but are rejected due to their lack of knowledge, or offered less senior roles in line with their actual experience. As a result, they end up staying.</p> <p>Perhaps some founders do not know better and are just unequipped to run a business, but therein lies another challenge. Anyone can start an agency and get a few clients, so many do so in the hope a lucrative earn-out down the line.</p> <p>The real problem here, from my perspective, is that this brazen greed stunts the development of so many young professionals. Once people reach that glass ceiling of ‘director’ or ‘head of’, the next objective is to work on other areas of digital marketing. The wish is easily granted, but this is often done myopically.  </p> <p>It is the responsibility of managers to advise their staff and sometimes the best advice is for them to stay in their departments, hone their craft, and learn to nurture other people’s development. </p> <p>The challenge here is that the employee may simply take the opportunity to ‘branch out’ at a rival agency, for more pay and a better title.</p> <p>Of course, providing a sense of purpose beyond the material will help to engage staff and boost retention rates. As simple as that sounds, many agencies have not yet realized this. Such an approach buys time, and with time can come development. </p> <p>However, on the whole, we seem to have bought into the narrative that we specialize first, then generalize soon after. Analyst -&gt; Account executive -&gt; Account manager -&gt; Director -&gt; Head of -&gt; [Insert title with either ‘client’ or ‘strategy’ in it].</p> <p>That may be fine in and of itself; but if it is inevitable that this is the path people will tread, how can we ensure that they do so successfully? </p> <p>After all, the gravitational pull of our original specialism is hard to resist, as we innately know that this is where we can add most value.</p> <p>I have attended many meetings with a client services director (or similar) and one can detect within the first five minutes what their true specialism is. They have simply been re-badged ‘holistic’, but they are in fact a PPC expert with additional responsibilities.</p> <p>When negotiating contracts between agencies and clients, it is ironic that ‘Client Strategy’ is the line item I have most frequently been asked to remove. One would imagine that this would appeal instinctively to clients, but many are skeptical about what exactly this person will add.</p> <p>It is important to note that this is not born of an a priori reality. These opinions are the result of lived experience, of ‘client services’ reduced to the role of note-taker, meeting-room-booker, next-steps-coordinator.</p> <h3>How can we overcome these challenges?</h3> <p>To my mind, the answer lies in a more enlightened approach to what we do and how we do it. Creating a culture of curiosity, of an enjoyment in the pursuit of knowledge over its saleable acquisition, is key to achieving this.</p> <p>We also learn by doing, of course. I have taken on projects in a range of digital marketing disciplines in the last 12 months and have learned more through this approach than I would have from reading articles or listening into meetings. I have also been able to take in-depth courses without having to worry about my timesheets.</p> <p>The problem is that this is not a luxury that would have been afforded me at many agencies. Staff are billable hours; time spent figuring out how to run a display campaign is not particularly bankable - at least not when the learner is also on a hefty pay packet.</p> <p>We must deliver outcomes, all the time.</p> <p>One potential answer has lain in the field of data analysis.</p> <p>By developing a base level of data literacy across an organization, there is at least a common vocabulary for discussing ideas in a reasonably objective manner.</p> <p>It would also be possible to send staff on an external ‘boot camp’ to boost their skills in the shortest possible time. I do think this type of training has value, but only as part of a broader plan. It delivers a ‘good ROI’ in a spreadsheet, but we are dealing with intangibles here and intangibles do not fit so readily into Excel.</p> <p>Perhaps there, we have our answer. </p> <p>When I have raised these questions, it has been rare to see a senior leader lift their head from their laptop. It has been rarer still to witness or participate in a rewarding discussion. If we only want shortcuts, we’ll end up with lesser experiences.</p> <p>I wrote an article like this one a few years ago and was asked by a CEO, "But what's your point? Summarize it for me." Sometimes, a situation is beyond salvation.</p> <p>The aim is not to be the world’s greatest expert in all areas of digital. That would be fantastic, but it would be impossible to maintain this heightened level of knowledge across so many ever-changing disciplines, if it could ever even be attained.</p> <p>Rather, the aim is to satiate an innate passion for knowledge and channel this into the development of sophisticated critical faculties. That seems as ‘future-proof’ a plan as any.</p> <h3>What I’ve done</h3> <p>When I left my first digital marketing agency, where I had spent five pretty happy and successful years, I had vague ambitions of ‘branching out’ beyond SEO. </p> <p>I did not need to leave in order to fulfil that ambition, as it would have been possible to move into a cross-channel team in the relatively short term. Simply changing title does not equate to possessing new skills, however. I didn't think I could do justice to such a role just yet.</p> <p>Perhaps I required some space to reflect on what exactly it meant to move into such a role, beyond simply taking on a new title that I would be ill-equipped to justify. Perhaps I needed a new environment and a fresh start.</p> <p>Personal pride is a factor in my desire to work on my development in isolation. When one has developed into an advanced professional in one area, it is difficult to assume the role of the beginner again. </p> <p>Without starting from the bottom, it is also impossible to understand the details of each practice. This has been easier to do on my own than it would have been within a large company.</p> <p>From an agency perspective, this is an understandably difficult paradox to resolve. It may even be insoluble, placed in a wider societal context. Healthy discussion and an emphasis on developing both hard and soft skills will only help, I believe.</p> <p>In a minority of companies, however, to pose questions without also providing answers is to be ‘troublesome’. If one knew the answer, one wouldn’t pose the question, but that’s precisely what some leaders want.</p> <blockquote> <p>Questions put strain on a straining infrastructure.</p> <p>Answers - even wrong ones - are comforting in their certainty.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is, unfortunately, entirely lost on those who claim their business is built on ‘disruption’ and ‘challenging the status quo’. Nothing could be more conformist than some of the digital agencies I have observed. One wonders why they would truly want things to stay as they are, other than to prop up their own positions. </p> <p>Since I am no longer obliged to spew platitudes (not that I ever did so with conviction), there is room to ruminate, to question, to accept that there need not be a ‘quick win’ or ‘actionable outcome’ at the end.</p> <p>Ironically, it will lead me to better answers. My life is infinitely richer for that.</p> <p><em><strong>Needless to say, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/">Econsultancy offers a range of training courses</a> if, like Clark, you are looking to branch out.</strong></em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69938 2018-04-12T13:00:00+01:00 2018-04-12T13:00:00+01:00 Agencies, do you win business by accident or design? Ben Potter <p>The challenge lies not so much in winning business, per se, but in winning the ‘right’ business. ‘Right’ is a subtle but strategically important distinction to make. The ‘wrong’ business impacts the longevity of client relationships, staff morale and ultimately, the success, or otherwise, of the agency. </p> <p>Whilst a certain amount of client churn is inevitable in the hyper-competitive digital space, agencies don’t help themselves when they fail to treat business development, from positioning through to pitching, as an ‘experience’. It is a function of the agency that is rarely approached with the same level of intent or purpose as service delivery or account management, for example.</p> <p>So, what does a well-designed approach to business development look like? And how does it help an agency win the ‘right’ business? </p> <p>In my experience, you win business ‘by design’ when…</p> <h3>1. Positioning drives your new business strategy </h3> <p>When business development is designed, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68869-why-your-agency-s-value-proposition-probably-sucks-and-what-to-do-about-it/" target="_blank">positioning sets the agenda</a>. Agencies that are clear in their purpose and have a current (or attainable) advantage over the competition, will probably find business development more straightforward than a ‘generalist’. </p> <p>Why? Because they have greater clarity on who they want to work with and how they make a difference to the people, businesses and markets they serve. They worry less about the work they’ll miss out on and instead concentrate their efforts on what can be gained by ‘narrowing their focus’ (to steal an expression from <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/big-idea-2015-expand-your-focus-tim-williams/" target="_blank">Tim Williams</a>).</p> <p>Focus helps avoid a ‘spray and prey’ approach to lead generation. Decision making on the right blend of inbound and outbound tactics is made significantly easier.</p> <h3>2. You put business development at the heart of the agency</h3> <p>Agencies that approach business development with purpose do so collaboratively. Accountability and good internal communication rule. Successes are celebrated for what they are – a team effort - and losses commiserated likewise.</p> <p>This often means breaking down barriers and putting aside misconceptions. People only shy away from business development because they don’t understand it. Yet, when you look at the breadth of skills and behaviours required to win business, everyone in the agency can (and should) play a role. As such, when the agency <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69283-10-things-agency-owners-can-do-to-help-their-business-development-manager-flourish/" target="_blank">hires a business development manager</a> they are considered part of the solution, not THE solution.  </p> <h3>3. You say ‘no’ just as often as you say ‘yes’</h3> <p>If you think of qualifying as a series of ‘filters’, positioning communicates who the agency is best equipped to work with and why. It should therefore help to attract on-profile prospects and (hopefully) disqualify others. </p> <p>But that doesn’t mean every organisation in your chosen market is right. When business development is designed, agencies profile their ‘ideal client’ in terms of company attributes and the type of people they want to work with (attitudes and behaviours, for example).</p> <p>This second filter is used to efficiently disqualify prospects when they don’t meet the grade. Even when the pipeline isn’t looking too rosy, the agency stays true to themselves, taking the long view over any short term, financial benefit.</p> <h3>4. You make things happen</h3> <p>Your dream client is unlikely to just land in your lap. In my agency days, we might have received one or two leads per year that were absolutely ‘on the money’.</p> <p>Otherwise, it was initiative, resourcefulness, motivation and a dose of patience that opened doors to the brands we really wanted to talk to. </p> <p>A well-designed approach to business development is evident when an agency knows their audience inside and out; the roles they are targeting; the challenges they are likely to be facing; where they spend their time and how they tend to digest content, for example.</p> <p>Lead generation is therefore not overly reliant on one channel or a <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/win-new-business-stop-looking-silver-bullet-ben-potter/" target="_blank">mystical ‘silver-bullet’</a>. Perhaps most importantly, plans and processes ensure lead generation activity is ‘always on’, rather than a reaction to an empty looking pipeline.</p> <h3>5. You’re in control </h3> <p>Agencies too often allow the prospect to set the terms of engagement during a pitch process. From unrealistic deadlines to full-on design concepts, expectations are often unrealistic and unfair. </p> <p>Agencies with a well-designed approach to information gathering and qualifying seek to own the process as far as they possibly can. They do not bow to every request and whim.</p> <p>They identify red flags early, such as the prospect failing to give up their time, share insight, be challenged in their thinking or demonstrating a willingness to change.</p> <p>Agencies that approach business development with intent don’t take the bait or <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/have-you-ever-lost-pitch-incumbent-agency-heres-why-ben-potter/" target="_blank">end up as ‘pitch candy’.</a></p> <h3>6. You don’t try and sell anything…</h3> <p>…not during the early stages of the relationship anyway.</p> <p>Agencies with a well-designed approach to prospecting don’t try to sell anything over email. And having landed an appointment, they don’t walk into a room, get their laptop out and present their creds (unless they are specifically asked to).</p> <p>Instead, they put the prospect first. Email is used to share relevant and timely insights. Meetings lead with interesting, often challenging questions that seek to uncover where the prospect is trying to get to, the challenges they are facing and what success looks like.</p> <p>Only once this information has been gathered do they try and sell their solutions, ideas or their agency.</p> <h3>7. You know your numbers</h3> <p>It is said that business development is a numbers game. This is both right and wrong depending on the context. Firing out a thousand generic emails and hoping for the best? That’s not a numbers game, it’s a fools' game (even more so, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/hello/gdpr-for-marketers/" target="_blank">with GDPR around the corner).</a></p> <p>Setting <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria">SMART objectives</a> (and ensuring there is adequate resource in place to meet them) is a numbers game. </p> <p>Tracking leads, qualified opportunities, pitches and conversion rate, is a numbers game. </p> <p>Understanding the value of your pipeline, having in place a system to ‘weight’ opportunities and using this insight to plan resource, is a numbers game.</p> <p>When business development is designed, the accuracy of data, reporting and regular reviews ensure an agency can easily identity any failings and focus their efforts accordingly.</p> <h3>8. You don’t rest on your laurels</h3> <p>I speak to a lot of agencies who mistake a winning streak for a winning approach to business development. They’ve won a few clients in a short space of time, they’re busy and all is good in the world. They’ve got this business development thing licked.</p> <p>But a few months later, the work dries up, the pipeline is looking thin and they’re back at square one. </p> <p>When business development is designed, the ‘machine’ never stops. Business development is never ‘nailed’. There is a continuous cycle of review, learn and improve.</p> <h2>Maybe I’m wrong?</h2> <p>You might be reading this and thinking <em>‘we don’t tick these boxes and we still win our fair share of new clients, you’re talking rubbish’</em> (it has been known).</p> <p>There are of course scenarios where some of this goes out the window, exceptions to the rule if you like.</p> <p>But think about it. Do you and your team really enjoy the work you are doing? Are your relationships based on what really matters to the client, not what you perceive to matter in their monthly stats reports? Are you impossible to replace? Do you have a high retention rate…of clients and staff?</p> <p>Business development impacts all these things, and more. Answering ‘no’ to any of these questions are all symptoms of a poorly designed approach to new business.</p> <p>So, ask yourself the question again – do you win business by accident or design?</p> <p><em><strong>For more on agencies, readers can check out <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/top-100-digital-agencies">Econsultancy's Top 100 Digital Agencies report</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4748 2018-03-20T17:00:00+00:00 2018-03-20T17:00:00+00:00 Career and Salary Survey Report 2018 <p>Building on our inaugural Career and Salary Survey in 2015 (previously called The Salary Survey), Econsultancy has collaborated with sister brand Marketing Week to survey over 4,000 people across the marketing, digital, design and advertising industries.</p> <p>With Econsultancy's  Modern Marketing Model (M3) in mind, this survey data goes some way towards showing how well the gap between digital and general marketing is closing, and what still needs to happen before digital thinking is embedded into all aspects of business strategy.</p> <p>Some of the key findings highlighted in this year's report include gender pay gap and diversity and inclusion issues within the industry. </p> <p>The main objective of this research is to give a guideline of how marketers are remunerated and what the trends and variations are across different industry sectors in the UK, but also to understand how they rate various remuneration packages, what benefits they receive, what their expectations are and how marketing departments evolved in the last 12 months.</p> <p>We are confident that this report provides real practical value for those working in the marketing industry who want to understand how their peers are remunerated.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4716 2018-02-13T12:35:00+00:00 2018-02-13T12:35:00+00:00 Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2018 Digital Trends <p>The <strong>2018 Digital Trends</strong> report, published by Econsultancy in association with <strong><a title="Adobe" href="https://www.adobe.com/uk/experience-cloud.html">Adobe</a></strong>, looks at the most significant trends that will impact companies in the short to medium term.</p> <p>The report is based on a global survey of nearly 13,000 marketing, creative and technology professionals in the digital industry across EMEA, North America and Asia Pacific.</p> <p>As part of this year’s study, we have also identified a number of <strong>top-performing companies</strong> in order to<strong> assess how they are focusing their activities and investments differently compared to their peers</strong>.</p> <p>High-performing companies are those organisations that exceeded their top 2017 business goal by a significant margin, and who have also significantly outperformed their competitors.</p> <p><strong>Key insights</strong> from the research include:</p> <ul> <li>Companies continue to focus on the customer experience (CX), as well as the content required to facilitate this. Organisations committed to CX are shown to outperform their peers.</li> <li>We are entering a ‘design and creativity renaissance’, with top-performing companies recognising the importance of these capabilities to complement data and technology excellence.</li> <li>Investment in technology and related skills is paying dividends, with integrated platforms fast-becoming a prerequisite for success.</li> <li>AI is set to play a growing role in helping marketers to deliver more compelling real-time experiences.</li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69748 2018-01-25T10:31:29+00:00 2018-01-25T10:31:29+00:00 Three major biz dev challenges faced by small agencies Ben Potter <p>I don’t pretend this to be based on a scientific study or wide-ranging survey. Instead, it comes from observing, talking to and advising numerous agencies.</p> <p>If any of these feel familiar, rest assured, you are not alone. But more importantly, as we kick off a new year, I hope you are spurred into action. After all, new business is the lifeblood of any agency.</p> <h3>1. Poorly defined positioning / proposition</h3> <p>If business development were a series of building blocks, positioning would be at its foundation. It is fundamental to the agency’s ability to set 'SMART' objectives and formulate a business development strategy to meet them; the markets targeted, the messages used, the tactics employed and so on. </p> <p>A <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68869-why-your-agency-s-value-proposition-probably-sucks-and-what-to-do-about-it/" target="_self">clearly articulated proposition</a> highlights the strengths of the agency or, better still, where they have an advantage over their competitors (a sector specialism, for example). It demonstrates an understanding of the problems faced by their target audience and the positive impact the agency’s work has on the people, businesses and markets they serve.</p> <p>Yet all too often, agencies put their services front and centre (<em>‘we are an award-winning, digital agency delivering SEO, PPC’…</em>). Or they mistake hygiene factors for points of difference - <em>‘results-focussed’, ‘passionate’, ‘transparent’</em> – none of these things make an agency unique, they’ve been overused to the point of becoming virtually meaningless and, ultimately, they have little relevance to what the prospect is actually looking to buy (see point 3).  </p> <p>When an agency has little or no idea what they stand for, who they are best equipped to work with and why, it makes them indistinguishable from thousands of others saying virtually the same thing. </p> <p>Where business development is concerned, it leads to indecision about who to proactively target and how (and therefore inaction).</p> <p>Which leads nicely onto…</p> <h3>2. Overly reliant on referrals</h3> <p>Small agencies rarely have enough time or resource to proactively build relationships with prospects, certainly not with any degree of consistency anyway. When it does happen, it tends to be a reaction to a thin looking pipeline. </p> <p>Many agencies are wholly dependent on referrals, recommendations and whatever else happens to ‘come through the front door’. On the one hand, referrals are great. They are a sign the agency is doing a good job and the close rate tends to be high. But on the flip side, the quantity and quality will fluctuate significantly month to month. This makes forward planning with confidence nigh on impossible; there are simply too many variables outside of the agency’s control.</p> <p>Inbound marketing is quite rightly heralded as the answer but, again, time (and money) can be a barrier for smaller agencies, especially where creating content is concerned. Fortunately, traditional methods of lead generation, such as prospecting emails, still have their place and are often quicker and easier to get off the ground. </p> <p>With an understanding of key principles and good practice, prospecting is not rocket science. It comes down to targeting the right businesses (see point 1), the quality of research, and the relevance and timeliness of communication. It’s about adding value, resourcefulness, consistency and patience. </p> <p>Even half an hour a day spent researching and reaching out to one new contact is better than nothing. But without the systems and processes that allow for this regular, proactive activity, the agency is simply waiting (and hoping) for something to happen, rather than taking control and making things happen. </p> <h3>3. Failure to ask the right questions (or any questions at all)</h3> <p>When a lead comes in, there is a tendency for agencies to jump straight into ‘sales mode’, eagerly getting out the creds deck and boring the prospect to death with often irrelevant information about themselves.</p> <p>This can come from a misconception of what selling is and involves (clue: it’s all about the prospect, not you!). A lack of process and inability to pose the right questions, at the right time, are also key factors. Whatever the reason, it means agencies waste too much of their precious time on leads they stand very little chance of winning and not enough time working the opportunities they do.</p> <p>The early stages of the sales process should involve one thing and one thing only; information gathering. In other words, the agency posing questions that seek to understand where the prospect is trying to get to, the problems they are facing and what success looks like, as well as the needs, desires, motivations and concerns of the buyer.</p> <p>This will differ every time and, in turn, should be reflected in the proposal. Failing to ask the right questions (or any questions at all) increases the likelihood that the ‘solution’ proposed will be the wrong one. Or, perhaps the solution is right, but it won’t be properly positioned. Or, the opportunity is missed to present a broader range of solutions perhaps not even considered by the prospect.</p> <p>Result? A generic proposal that fails to resonate with the buyer, a firm ‘no’ and a great deal of frustration all round, with the agency often blaming the prospect. </p> <p>I firmly believe that the biggest advantage an agency can create in business development lies in asking the right questions, listening and empathising with the prospect. Only then can this insight be used to position the proposal based on the value that will be created by working together and thus avoid a scenario where price is the deciding factor. Because who wants to be the cheapest, right?</p> <p>I’d love to hear your feedback. Do these challenges resonate? Is there anything else that holds you back when it comes to winning business? Please comment below.</p> <p><strong>Subscribers can download Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/econsultancy-future-of-agencies-systems-and-empathy">The Future of Agencies report</a>.</strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69655 2017-12-14T14:00:00+00:00 2017-12-14T14:00:00+00:00 Four qualities of an agile marketer Jeff Rajeck <p>But before it became identified with a business process, 'agile' described certain qualities in marketer such as ability, flexibility, and responsiveness. So, we wondered if marketers could still be agile in a broad sense, even if their company has never held a 'stand-up meeting' or a 'scrum'?</p> <p>In order to find out, we recently invited dozens of client-side marketers to discuss this and other topics with their peers. At a table moderated by Karen Lau, Marketing Director, APAC, Johnson Controls, marketers discussed what it meant to be 'agile' and arrived at five key qualities that agile marketers should have, summarized below.</p> <p>Before we start, we'd just like to let you know about some related training. Econsultancy is offering Content Marketing for Web, Mobile and Social Media training in both <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/content-marketing-for-web-mobile-and-social-media-singapore/dates/3357/">Singapore</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/in/Petaling%20Jaya">Petaling Jaya, Malaysia</a>.  Please click on the respective links for more information and to book your spot!</p> <p><strong>So, what are the main qualities of an 'agile' marketer?</strong></p> <h3>1) They understand the buying journey</h3> <p>The first quality mentioned by participants is that an agile marketer must understand their customer inside and out. That is, they must know how their customers interact with the brand from every angle: </p> <ul> <li>How they search for information</li> <li>What are the key decision-making touchpoints</li> <li>How they typically make a purchase</li> <li>What keeps them engaged and loyal </li> </ul> <p>And we have to remember this customer-centric approach is quite new. Previously, many marketers were highly-skilled at certain tactics which were then coordinated by management.</p> <p>Now, however, everyone agreed, marketers need to have a more holistic view of the buying process no matter where they are working.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1050/agile-marketer-3.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></strong></p> <h3>2) They are data-driven</h3> <p>The next characteristic of an agile marketer is that they must have a firm grip on online analytics. This means ensuring that the web or platform analytics is producing high-quality performance data and coming up with a plan with the results.</p> <p>Too often, participants said, data is collected and shared with no guidance and so each marketer interprets it in their own way.</p> <p>An agile, data-driven marketer will attempt to derive meaning from every report and use that to drive more engagement, conversions, and sales.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1051/agile-marketer-1.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> <h3>3) They react efficiently and appropriately</h3> <p>Another quality of an agile marketer is that they respond to new situations quickly and sensibly.</p> <p>For many brands, this may mean being able to deal with a detractor on social media or even handling a crisis. For others, it means being able to write automation scripts which handle sign-ups, abandoned carts, and customer enquiries as efficiently as possible.</p> <p>Content marketing, too, can be agile. One participant told the group that when they deliver content in a series, they will produce multiple versions of the next 'episode' so that they can react quickly and appropriately to comments from their audience.</p> <p>All of these examples, however, require both training and planning on behalf of the marketing team, according to attendees. Agility, it seems, is learned and developed over time.</p> <p><strong><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1052/agile-marketer-2.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></strong></p> <h3>4) They are digital at the core</h3> <p>Finally, participants said that in order to be agile in today's media environment, a marketer needs to be natively digital.</p> <p>The reason, they argued, is that in order to add value across the new customer journey, marketers need to be familiar with how to use all of the digital channels effectively as well as understand the corresponding analytics.</p> <p>A marketer with these qualities <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/62675-the-rise-of-the-psi-shaped-content-marketer">has been described previously by Econsultancy</a> as 'pi-shaped', meaning someone who is 'analytical and data-driven, yet understands brands, storytelling and experiential marketing.' (You can take a test <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/marketing-readiness/">here</a> to determine what sort of marketer you are)</p> <p>Regardless of what such people are called, though, it seems from the discussions that those in our industry are now expected to have a wide variety of skills and qualities that go beyond the conventional definition of a marketer.</p> <h3>A word of thanks</h3> <p>Econsultancy would like to thank Karen Lau, Marketing Director, APAC, Johnson Controls for hosting the Agile Marketing table and providing us with some great ideas about what it means to be a modern, agile marketer.</p> <p>We'd also like to thank all of the marketers who attended Digital Cream Singapore 2017 and shared their valuable insights - and we hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1053/agile-marketer-4.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="533"></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69564 2017-11-03T16:30:00+00:00 2017-11-03T16:30:00+00:00 10 interesting digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week Nikki Gilliland <p>Now, let’s not dilly-dally.</p> <h3>Highest H1 on record for UK adspend</h3> <p>Warc’s <a href="http://expenditurereport.warc.com/FreeContent/AA-WARC-Q2-2017-Final.pdf" target="_blank">Expenditure Report</a> has revealed that UK adspend grew 3.7% to £10.8bn during the first six months of 2017, making it the largest H1 total on record.</p> <p>This news has also resulted in an upgraded forecast of 3.1% growth for 2017, which suggests annual spend in excess of £22bn. </p> <p>The report also revealed that 54% of all advertising spend in the first half of the year was generated by digital, with mobile growth of 36.1% being the main contributor to a wider 13% rise in internet spend during the quarter.</p> <h3>89% of viewers see brands that sponsor TV as trustworthy</h3> <p>According to research by <a href="http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/c4-reveals-results-of-biggest-ever-tv-sponsorship-effectiveness-study" target="_blank">Channel 4</a>, consumers typically believe TV sponsorship to be one of the most trustworthy signs within advertising.</p> <p>In a survey over 80,000 people, nine in 10 television viewers said they consider brands sponsoring programmes to be more trustworthy than those engaged in other forms of advertising. Meanwhile, three-quarters think sponsorship is a more expensive form of advertising, therefore leading 91% to perceive sponsoring brands as more premium.</p> <p>The survey also found 9% of viewers now expect this as part of the TV experience, while 80% say these kinds of ads act as a recognisable cue to watch.</p> <h3>Nearly half of marketers are sceptical about AI</h3> <p>A new report by <a href="https://www.resulticks.com/marketingflabtofab.html" target="_blank">Resulticks</a> has revealed that 47% of marketers think artificial intelligence is an overhyped buzzword, while a further 40% are sceptical about the technology.</p> <p>Interestingly, the reason the majority of marketers believe this is due to AI technology feeling more visionary than practical, with not enough concrete examples to show any different.</p> <p>The report also revealed that 42% of marketers have no plans to implement artificial intelligence, while some have already abandoned the concept altogether.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0181/AI.JPG" alt="" width="700" height="570"></p> <h3>80% of Christmas shoppers share gift ideas via ‘dark social’</h3> <p>New research from <a href="http://go.radiumone.com/christmas2017" target="_blank">RadiumOne</a> suggests that eight in 10 consumers share information about Christmas gifts via dark social channels like instant messaging apps and email.</p> <p>Its latest report states that 30% of consumers shared more content online over the Christmas period than usual, with 72% of this content being shared via dark channels. This is compared to just 22% of content shared on Facebook. </p> <p>In this sense, dark social is seen as a crucial signal of purchasing intent. RadiumOne found that out of the 50% of people who shared technology gift ideas and 33.3% who shared fashion gifts via dark social, one half and one third of people respectively went on to make purchases in these categories.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0180/RadiumOne.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="370"></p> <h3>Consumers trust premium publishers more than Facebook and Twitter</h3> <p>A <a href="http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171031005692/en/Sharethrough-Premium-Publishers-Trump-Facebook-Twitter-Trust" target="_blank">Qualtrics</a> survey has revealed that premium publishers rank far ahead of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to trust and engagement.</p> <p>In a survey of over 500 UK consumers, 79% of respondents cited trust in the BBC, and 55% cited trust in The Times and The Guardian. Meanwhile, only 36% said they trust news content on Facebook and Twitter. </p> <p>This level of trust is reflected in engagement. Respondents were 48% more likely to actually read an article on The Guardian than on Facebook, with social media activity more geared towards scrolling through news headlines.  </p> <h3>Six in 10 retailers fear high cost of Brexit</h3> <p>Research from <a href="https://blog.rotageek.com/" target="_blank">Rotageek</a> suggests that retailers fear the knock-on effects of Brexit, specifically when it comes to pressure on workforces.</p> <p>65% of retailers say that having the right staff in the right place at the right time is already a struggle. Brexit looks set to increase this challenge, with 58% of British retailers believing it will negatively impact their access to labour. Similarly, 56% of retailers believe Brexit will put extra pressure on their workforces.</p> <p>In order to combat this, retailers suggest that digital staff scheduling could alleviate some of this pressure – 57% say it could increase staff happiness and 54% say it could make staff feel empowered.</p> <h3>Brits average Christmas spend set to rise 12.5%</h3> <p>Adobe’s Digital Insights report suggests that Brits will spend even more this Christmas than the last.</p> <p>A survey revealed that consumers will spend an average of £1,963 each during the festive period – an increase of 12.5% on 2016. This also means that Brits will outspend their European counterparts, with respondents in France anticipating a spend of €498, and German consumers expecting €565.</p> <p>It also appears an increasing number of Brits will be shopping via digital channels. UK consumers expect to spend 53% of their Christmas budget online, while 21% expect to spend more online than last year. Finally, 47% believe the ideal Christmas shopping experience would be entirely online.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0182/christmas_shopping__2_.jpg" alt="" width="700" height="466"></p> <h3>68% of digital managers think internal silos are harming CX</h3> <p>New research from Inviqa has revealed that organisations are failing to align business strategy and digital delivery, leading to customer experiences suffering as a result.</p> <p>The ‘<a href="https://inviqa.com/whitepaper/mind-digital-gap" target="_blank">Mind the Digital Gap</a>’ report says 68% of digital managers think internal structures negatively affect their organisation’s ability to deliver effective customer journeys, while 53% believe their organisations are failing to balance day-to-day business operations with investment in digital innovation.</p> <p>When it comes to the biggest obstacle to achieving a powerful customer experience, most digital managers cited a ‘lack of internal agreement on where to focus efforts and resource’. Similarly, the majority named the ‘time it takes to deliver digital initiatives’ as the biggest obstacle to achieving business goals.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0179/Silos.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="462"></p> <h3>Amazon is most trusted tech brand for US consumers</h3> <p>In a survey of over 1,500 US consumers, Amazon was named as the most-trusted tech brand - more than others including Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.</p> <p>What’s more, The Verge found Amazon to be the tech brand most likely to be recommended to friends and family, as well as the brand consumers would miss the most if it were to disappear. In contrast, Twitter was found to be the company that respondents would not recommend and miss the least.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the survey revealed that consumers trust Facebook less than Google, with trust also being the primary factor for individuals boycotting Facebook entirely.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0178/The_Verge.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="469"></p> <h3>Amazon’s advertising services grew 58% in Q3</h3> <p>In other Amazon news, its latest <a href="https://seekingalpha.com/article/4117120-amazon-com-amzn-q3-2017-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single" target="_blank">quarterly figures</a> have revealed a revenue growth of 34% year on year. The company’s advertising services has contributed significantly to this, with ad revenue growing 58% to reach $1.12bn in Q3.</p> <p>While this is rather meagre compared to the likes of Facebook’s $9bn in Q2 ad sales, it certainly shows a promising rate of progress.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69424 2017-09-20T11:47:17+01:00 2017-09-20T11:47:17+01:00 Marketers have more data than ever, so why aren’t they better at experimentation? Frederic Kalinke <p>As marketing is being transformed by advances in our ability to collect and manage data, the industry is becoming more ‘scientific’. This is why every day it becomes more important for marketers to heed Feyerabend’s advice.</p> <h3>A hypothesis about data</h3> <p>The crucial element in the recent evolution of marketing has been data. The collection of comprehensive data about customers and their behaviour promised marketers unprecedented insight into the effectiveness of their efforts, including of course <a title="How retail marketers can ensure they deliver the ‘right’ customer experience" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67526-how-retail-marketers-can-ensure-they-deliver-the-right-customer-experience/" target="_blank">where they should spend more</a> and where they had been wasting their budget.</p> <p>Consequently, marketing began to worship at the altar of data, eventually giving rise to the fascination with the nebulous “<a title="Ten Ways Big Data is Revolutionizing Marketing and Sales" href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2016/05/09/ten-ways-big-data-is-revolutionizing-marketing-and-sales/1" target="_blank">big data</a>.” Marketers now have the ability to collect data on almost anything they want.</p> <p>The fact that the underlying principles of marketing have remained much the same throughout this process (sell more stuff by putting what you’re selling in front of the right people in the right way) therefore begs the question: <strong>Why aren’t marketers doing better?</strong></p> <h3>How not to do things with data</h3> <p>Marketers have been getting their relationship with data the wrong way round. Simply, the answer is never in the data. In fact, the best way to get answers is to forget about the data.</p> <p>In scientific inquiry, trawling through existing data is rarely conducive to innovation. Trying to piece new things together from the mass of what you already know is an aimless, hopeless endeavour. You become a prisoner of conventional wisdom, reaching ever narrower, less original conclusions, with an increasing likelihood of being wrong.</p> <p>Scientific research shares at least this much in common with marketing. For example, we have data on the most shared headlines for content marketing. (<a title="We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines. Here's What We Learned." href="http://buzzsumo.com/blog/most-shared-headlines-study" target="_blank">Buzzsumo collated 100 million of them</a>.)</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/9053/buzzsumo.jpg" alt="" width="750" height="900"></p> <p>According to the data the top three-word phrases to use in article headlines for maximum shares are “will make you,” “this is why,” and “can we guess.” Widely-shared articles also begin with “X reasons why” or “X things you,” and very frequently include appeals to emotion.</p> <p>However, as Marketing Profs’ Ann Handley correctly noted in response, marketers should not “take this information and conclude that the best headline to use forever and always is something like 10 Ways That Will Make You a Better Headline Writer (and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!).”</p> <p>What this demonstrates is a problem with attempting to draw useful conclusions from data alone. While there are many things we can conclude from Buzzsumo’s impressively comprehensive analysis, not many of them are useful for content marketers attempting to come up with headlines.</p> <p>In fact, Handley gets it absolutely right when she urges marketers to “get a little creative with headlines.” Not only will different types of headlines work differently in different contexts (we cannot all be Buzzfeed, and we definitely should not try to be) but it is only by being creative that we actually end up writing better headlines.</p> <p>Simply mimicking the headline formats that currently work well will create not only an artificial ceiling over how successful content can be, but suffers inevitably from <a title="Regression towards the mean" href="https://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/regrmean.php" target="_blank">regression towards the mean</a>. This is what happens when marketers limit themselves according to convention.</p> <p>If the answer is clickbait, you asked the wrong question.</p> <h3>How to do things with data</h3> <p>A marketer trying to come up with more effective headlines for her content does not need an answer to the question, “what are the most popular phrases in headlines?”, she needs an answer to a specific question, “is my content going to perform better if I use this phrase or that phrase?”</p> <p>These questions are easy to confuse. The crucial difference is that our hypothetical marketer cannot use the answer to the first question to make any sort of conclusion about how to act. She will simply learn more about what has worked for others and be restricted to coming up with derivative ideas.</p> <p>Just because something worked for somebody else, it does not mean it will work for you. And when it comes to the over-saturated world of online content, the fact that something worked for somebody else means precisely that it is less likely to work for you.</p> <p>It is the second question, a specific one about some actual ideas, that represents the best way to go about dealing with this problem. It is a practical question that makes data useful and this is because it puts new ideas ahead of old conventions.</p> <h3>What does genuinely experimental marketing look like?</h3> <p>A particularly clear recent example of this is <a title="Why AS Roma revel in being the weirdest football club on social media" href="http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/08/31/why-roma-revel-being-the-weirdest-football-club-social-media" target="_blank">AS Roma’s successful approach to social media video</a>. In an industry where <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68696-digital-transformation-in-the-premier-league-southampton-fc-s-fan-first-strategy/">all the major football clubs</a> (and a lot of the minor ones) are stepping up their digital marketing and where almost every player transfer is announced with slick professional video on social media, Roma succeeded by doing something different.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Schick?src=hash">#Schick</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ASRoma?src=hash">#ASRoma</a> <a href="https://t.co/JAIvKGYS7P">pic.twitter.com/JAIvKGYS7P</a></p> — AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) <a href="https://twitter.com/ASRomaEN/status/902546975681388544">August 29, 2017</a> </blockquote> <p>These idiosyncratic videos embody Feyerabend’s “only principle that doesn’t inhibit progress.” Where their competitors acted like sheep, <a title="Roma fan explains latest transfer announcement video on Twitter" href="http://www.asroma.com/en/news/2017/8/roma-fan-explains-latest-transfer-announcement-video-on-twitter-" target="_blank">Roma chose goats</a>. They forgot about the data on what worked for their competitors and instead asked “what if we do something else?” They chose to experiment.</p> <p>As the categories of data available to marketers have multiplied, the possibilities for experimentation have grown exponentially. However, in practice this has not led to the proliferation of a diverse range of experimental approaches to marketing. Instead, there has been a succession of “next big things” (such as <a title="How AI will impact marketing and the customer experience" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68722-how-ai-will-impact-marketing-and-the-customer-experience" target="_blank">AI</a>), which seem to sweep the industry each year. The prospective benefits of each of these potential innovations and the specific uses for them end up being submerged by the hype. Brands frantically attempt to emulate their competitors to avoid being seen as technological laggards. The appearance of innovation trumps real experimentation.</p> <p>This is because too much marketing data is not collected with a specific purpose, it is simply collected in a way that encourages marketers to emulate their competitors and reinforce the status quo. A successfully experimental approach to marketing therefore requires marketers to put their own creativity first.</p> <h3>How to experiment in marketing</h3> <p>Professor Byron Sharp recently mentioned how important it is for marketers to learn how to run “<a title="Ritson and Sharp reveal their marketing heroes and the biggest challenges facing the industry" href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/09/04/ritson-sharp/" target="_blank">proper controlled experiments</a>,” something which most formal business educations dearly lack. He is correct that experiments are only useful if they are carried out according to rigorous scientific principles (with control variables and so on).</p> <p>This emphasises the connection between the scientific and creative aspects of experimentation; marketers cannot truly have one without the other. They therefore require a consistent experimental method that can be applied repeatedly and which maintains a complementary relationship between data and innovation.</p> <p>First, an experimental method requires marketers to come up with hypotheses, i.e. “I think our content might perform better with this sort of headline” or “I think our social media engagement would be improved with this sort of video.”</p> <p>It then requires marketers to collect data for the specific purpose of testing a hypothesis. Generally this is done through A/B testing (and specifically with <a title="Using data science with A/B tests: Bayesian analysis" href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/65755-using-data-science-with-a-b-tests-bayesian-analysis/" target="_blank">Bayesian statistical inference</a> rather than frequentist statistical inference, given that it is <a title="What is Bayesian A/B Testing and Why is it the Best Choice for Marketers?" href="https://amigotechnology.com/blog/what-is-bayesian-ab-testing-for-marketing?ast=C8zHl9" target="_blank">better suited to getting answers quickly</a>). This approach to data allows it to inform marketers’ hypotheses in a way that complements their creativity rather than inhibits it.</p> <p>This process of testing hypotheses can then be repeated in an iterative cycle that allows marketers to try out as many new ideas as possible in order to increase the chances of a major breakthrough. This process aligns neatly with the concept of <a title="What is Agile Marketing?" href="https://amigotechnology.com/what-is-agile-marketing" target="_blank">agile marketing</a>, which perhaps goes some way towards explaining the current vogue for that term.</p> <h3>The balance of power</h3> <p>Technological advance has given marketers access to invaluable quantities of information and as a result marketing and data have become intensely-linked. However the outstanding question about this relationship is simple. Who is in charge?</p> <p>Is marketing led by the hackneyed conventional wisdom represented by existing data or is it led by marketers’ own creativity and critical thinking? Where the balance of power leans towards the data, marketers are inhibited. Where it lies with the marketers, the data can yield genuinely useful conclusions and help marketers to come up with their next great idea.</p> <p><strong><em>Need to improve your own content marketing efforts? Book yourself onto one of Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/content-marketing-and-strategy">upcoming training courses</a>.</em></strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69402 2017-09-13T12:29:00+01:00 2017-09-13T12:29:00+01:00 Save the recruitment fees: Focus on process & culture, not more resources James Hammersley <p>Yet one of the observations we would have of many organisations is that they are not short of resources. You might think then that the issue is a shortage of the ‘right’ people, but that’s not necessarily true either.</p> <p>I have begun to wonder whether part of the problem is that as ecommerce develops we are less and less sure about what it is we need. Under these circumstances, particularly if we are being pushed for performance improvements, instincts encourage us to look for more heads and I think that counting heads is the wrong place to start.</p> <p>Our experience suggests that heads are the last things to worry about. Where you need to start is with how you want to work. This can be split into three things:</p> <h4><strong>1. Culture</strong></h4> <p>Organisations can behave badly, or at least the people in them can. In ecommerce we need everyone to work together, quite often including support functions such as legal and compliance as well as the more obvious IT and marketing.</p> <p>Function-first cultures abound in many places and these can at best slow down efforts to improve performance and at worst militate against them.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8923/badly.png" alt="" width="508" height="254"></p> <p><em>For more on this point, download Econsultancy's guide to <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/reports/building-a-digital-culture">Building A Digital Culture</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>2. Processes</strong></p> <p>Part of the reason why key functions can impact adversely on ecommerce teams is that there is no shared process to underpin roles and expectations. This gives permission for ‘localism’ and enables turf wars and the metaphorical stamping of feet.</p> <p><strong>3. Expert-led thinking</strong></p> <p>Experts in our world are often the cause of failure rather than the answer to a problem. I don’t mean specialists – these are generally very useful to have as they bring expertise and specific skills to help resolve problems.  </p> <p>I’m referring to the self-described ‘expert’ that does seem to exist in many ecommerce teams. You know the types, they start their contributions with phrases like: ‘as a UX expert’ and throw all the jargon in that allow the rest of us to play digital bingo as they talk.</p> <h3>The solution</h3> <p>Generally speaking, if you want to build a high-performing ecommerce team then you will need to be active in your management of culture, processes and egos. In immature functions this is a real challenge but if you get this right, it opens up significant opportunities to be quite radical in resourcing.</p> <p><strong>Cultures need to be customer-centric.</strong> They need to value, recognise and reward constant curiosity about the customer in the market as well as the current customer. They need to be driven by a desire to understand why people do and do not buy or become a lead or self-serve. Cultures that work best in ecommerce are curious, open, learning and rigourous about data and insight.</p> <p><strong>Processes need to be cross-functional.</strong> They should be disciplined and driven from the customer agenda not from a particular functional one. At every stage decision-making needs to be well defined including the data/insight required to make effective decisions. They have to include a test and learn discipline that iterates and links back into developing the understanding of the customer agenda.</p> <p>People need to be low-ego, high standards and low maintenance. They have to be able to collaborate internally and externally and they have to be able to follow a structured disciplined process. Technical specialists are important, but even more important is to ensure you identify the right capabilities that drive performance.  </p> <p>In our view these aren’t defined by activities such as UX/CX or web analytics but by skills sets that can make a competitive difference regardless of where they are deployed:  </p> <ul> <li>Data comprehension and manipulation</li> <li>Customer insight generation process</li> <li>Commercial understanding</li> </ul> <p>Thinking this way about capabilities changes the ‘talent’ pool from a rather limited one into one that embraces a very wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. After all, ecommerce isn’t rocket science is it? What differentiates the outstanding performers are those who understand their customers and the customers in their market and know how to use that to develop optimised executions through a process of test and learn.  </p> <p>That’s true whether you are marketing, selling or building customer relationships.</p> <p>Resourcing against the values that build the right cultures, the attitude that accepts the need to work collaboratively and within strong common processes and a genuine interest in customers rather than themselves is likely to deliver far better outcomes. It will also make your ecommerce team a great one to work for.</p> <p><em>For more on this topic, read:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68840-culture-and-digital-transformation-how-to-build-a-living-business/"><em>Culture and digital transformation: How to build a 'living business'</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69324-10-companies-with-a-digital-culture"><em>10 companies with a digital culture</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69369 2017-09-06T15:00:00+01:00 2017-09-06T15:00:00+01:00 Why marketers need to consider the difference between training and education Seán Donnelly <p>The ability for marketers to learn and stay on top of industry changes isn’t a trivial matter. If I can quote Arie de Geus, business theorist and former Head of Shell Oil’s Strategic Planning Group: “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”<br></p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/8715/econsultancy-how-marketers-learn-report-full_image-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="470" height="200"></p> <p>At Econsultancy we spend a lot of time identifying, analysing and evaluating digital trends. Some of these trends turn into fads and pass unnoticed. But some have the potential to change not only the role of the modern marketer, but also the structure of entire industries. Regardless of how trends materialise, marketers must learn to adapt to the ever-evolving ecosystem in which we operate. To adapt to any new reality requires learning.</p> <h3>Always be learning</h3> <p>If we could boil down the key message from the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/how-marketers-learn-research-findings/">How Marketers Learn</a> report into three words, they would be ‘<em>always be learning’</em>. The message is as applicable to individuals as it is organisations. Individual learning is, after all, at the heart of organisational learning.</p> <p>The report points out that if an organisation wants to adapt, grow and stay connected to customers, it will need to embed a culture of learning, that is, a dynamic culture that thrives on change. This will be essential for modern marketers in order to be able to interpret and navigate new trends and tactics. </p> <h3>Characteristics of the modern marketer</h3> <p>Modern marketing is an eclectic discipline. Much of what is required of the modern marketer revolves around a thorough understanding of marketing theory, technical marketing capabilities and an equal measure of strategic thinking and creative thinking capability.</p> <p>In fact, in 2013, Econsultancy published a call to arms of sorts for marketers. The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/62574-introducing-the-modern-marketing-manifesto">Modern Marketing Manifesto</a> lays out the critical capabilities and characteristics of modern marketers to succeed. Take a look at it and ask yourself how aligned your own capabilities are. If you’re not in alignment, you might need to think about how to get up to speed. Training and education will play a big part in that. </p> <p>As I worked on this report, I couldn’t help but reflect on the value of training and other forms of education.</p> <h3>Thinking about the difference between training and education </h3> <p>Education is about theory. It is longitudinal. Education is about learning to think critically and in the abstract. Anyone who has studied marketing at university will remember that they learned about theories and frameworks but may not have had the opportunity to apply that knowledge with real clients.</p> <p>A degree in marketing will equip any marketer with the theoretical knowledge and strategic awareness to commence a career in marketing. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8501/education.jpg" alt="" width="407" height="271"></p> <h4>Training</h4> <p>Training on the other hand is about learning skills and tactics. It is specific. Good training provides the capability to do something rather than simply know something. </p> <p>In my opinion, training can empower marketers to think tactically and apply those new tactics in specific contexts. Marketers with knowledge of classic marketing theory and relevant training can excel by being able to think both tactically and strategically.    </p> <h3>Marketing qualifications and the need for training</h3> <p>As important as marketing training is, without wider marketing education it may be insufficient to address the requirements of today's marketers. Modern marketers need to be thoroughly schooled in marketing theory in order to equip them with foundational knowledge and strategic awareness that they can continue to apply as new digital tactics continue to emerge.</p> <p>There are a lot of people that are great digital marketing technicians. Some people might even consider them to be thoughtleaders in marketing. In practice though, some of those people might lack a wider appreciation of the discipline of marketing. Professor Mark Ritson wrote about this in his <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/07/12/mark-ritson-maybe-its-just-me-but-shouldnt-an-expert-in-marketing-be-trained-in-marketing/">Marketing Week column last year</a>: “Before anyone is declared an expert/ninja/guru/visionary in marketing they need to learn the discipline. You need a qualification to be qualified.”</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8503/Ritson_head_Scratch_small.jpg" alt="" width="980" height="400"></p> <p>Ritson got a bit of stick about that article. You might argue that his view focused too narrowly on academic qualifications and doesn’t take into account the fact that individuals can learn the principles of marketing and accompanying skills through a mix of career learning (assuming that they are working at a company with a good academy or marketing programme) and independent learning (reading, conference attendance etc.). </p> <p>Might I politely suggest that instead of targeting Mark Ritson for calling out marketers with no qualifications, perhaps we should think about the value that a qualification brings to the profession in terms of credibility and trust, particularly at senior levels where other executive colleagues will likely have their own qualifications (accountancy, finance, law etc.). Rightly or wrongly, those people may regard their marketing colleagues more highly if they can see that those marketers acquired their skills and knowledge via a robust and challenging qualification process, in the same way that they have. </p> <p>While disciplined people that take pride in their work can most certainly learn what they need to know to succeed, there is still a value in holding a recognised qualification. Let’s be honest, no matter what the profession is, the more qualified you are, the more opportunities there will be for career advancement, bonuses and pay increases!</p> <p>As somebody with somewhat of an academic background, I would suggest that while knowledge and approaches may move on, there is something about an academic programme that forces students to learn to think critically and strategically. This ability never goes out of date.</p> <p>While marketing theory may not change quickly, the professional discipline of marketing is always changing. The emergence of new technologies which can change consumer behaviour and vice versa mean that marketers are expected to not only practice increasingly sophisticated digital marketing tactics but also be able to coordinate with fellow marketers to plug these tactics into the overall marketing strategy.</p> <p>For this reason, marketers require regular training to improve skills and ensure that they can remain current and effective in their roles. Training at regular intervals throughout one’s career is important. This is equally true for junior marketers as it is for experienced professionals wishing to keep abreast of trends and tactics.</p> <p>Also, while marketers don’t officially require a further period of practical training after completion of academic studies the way other professions do (accountancy, law and medicine for example), in practice, most marketing professionals will start their career in junior positions where they will need to focus on a core set of channels or tactics to develop their technical and tactical expertise. They will develop these skills via on-the-job learning and focused training courses. It is for this reason, many companies well known for the quality of their marketing will run their own marketing academies in order to equip their staff with the skills that don’t neatly fall within the scope of a marketing degree.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/8502/training-blog-flyer.jpg" alt=""></p> <h3>Balancing education and training</h3> <p>There’s a lot written about how quickly things are changing but let’s be clear about one thing - the pace of change today is as slow as it will ever be. While the fundamentals of marketing may not change quickly, there is an ever increasing range of digital armoury available to marketers. </p> <p>In order to keep your head above water and not fall victim to the whims of the latest hysteria around which digital marketing channel is the hottest, marketers need a solid marketing foundation. This is acquired through education. </p> <p>However, as long as technology continues to reshape consumer behaviour and vice versa, there will be a requirement for training to help marketers and companies navigate those changes.</p> <p>And so education and training go very much hand in hand. Education provides the foundation upon which to layer training. Skills-based training on its own will only result in short term thinking and an inability to understand the limitations of that training.</p> <h3>Our thoughts on balancing theory and training at Econsultancy</h3> <p>While technology and consumer behaviour may change, the fundamentals of marketing don’t, at least not very quickly. This is why I think the Econsultancy’s sister-brand <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/mini-mba/">Marketing Week’s Mini MBA in Marketing</a> has been so well received. It provides a nice foundation upon which participants can layer on digital and channel specific skills.</p> <p>The Mini MBA in Marketing was designed to mirror the core marketing course offered in MBA programmes at top business schools. That means equipping learners with the knowledge and frameworks they need to become more effective marketers.</p> <p>It’s a nice supplement to what we do at Econsultancy. Please excuse the shameless plug but our clients turn to us to get a balanced view on the latest trends, tools and tactics in digital marketing. We can do this because we publish content that bridges the divide between education and training. While the Mini MBA in Marketing can provide the foundations, Econsultancy is able to support marketers to layer up their skills via capability management, training, conferences and e-learning.</p> <h3>Econsultancy career resources</h3> <h4><strong>Mini MBA in Marketing</strong></h4> <p>If you are interested in classic marketing education, I would encourage you to check out the <a href="https://www.marketingweek.com/mini-mba/">Marketing Week online MiniMBA in Marketing</a>. Participation will equip learners with awareness of key marketing skills such as market orientation, research, segmentation, positioning, brand equity and strategy. This knowledge will empower learners to move beyond tactical thinking to being strategically aware.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0008/8499/mw_mmba_logo-blog-flyer.jpg" alt=""></p> <h4>Digital Skills Index</h4> <p>If you are already schooled in classic marketing, but feel that you are lacking in digital skills and don’t know where to start, may I suggest that you start with our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/digital-skills-index/">Digital Skills Index</a>. The Digital Skills Index is an online assessment that measures the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in digital marketing and provides a detailed appraisal of your current digital marketing knowledge as well as a set of recommendations on how to advance and sharpen your skills.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0008/8718/Digital_Skills_Index.png" alt="" width="763" height="417"></p> <h4>Relevant reports and blog posts</h4> <p>If you’re already a supporter of professional development and lifelong learning but are wondering what to focus on next, my colleague Ben Davis wrote a really great piece last year called '<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68550-forget-learning-to-code-what-should-marketers-really-know">Forget learning to code; what should marketers really know</a>'. It’s a very well written and pertinent article for any marketer wondering what skills they need to learn next.</p> <p>You might also be interested in our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/skills-of-the-modern-marketer">Skills of the Modern Marketer</a> report. The report defines the soft skills needed to be successful in an organisation and the deep vertical knowledge areas that marketers see growing in importance in the coming years.</p> <p>As an analyst whose job it is to be able to identify and translate the importance of digital trends, I am very much in a state of always learning. This has enabled me to subscribe to the philosophy of pursuing a “living degree”, that is, taking an always-on approach to learning that adapts to changing environments.</p> <p>The <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/how-marketers-learn-research-findings/" target="_blank">How Marketers Learn report</a> will benefit leaders and managers in organisations of any size or sector by providing insights into the importance of having a learning and development strategy. It provides an overview of how marketers are currently managing their learning requirements.</p> <p>The research in this report will also help marketing leaders by highlighting the value of L&amp;D in marketing and demonstrating its business case. If you’re a marketing practitioner, regardless of where you are in your career, this report will help you reframe how you and your organisation approach professional development.</p> <h3>Econsultancy training</h3> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/">Econsultancy training courses</a> are developed by digital marketing experts and are based on the most up to date insight available. By attending an Econsultancy training course, you’ll benefit from:</p> <ul> <li>Best practice advice that draws on the expertise of researchers, analysts and practitioners</li> <li>The opportunity to continue your learning and grow your digital capabilities through our raft of resources, including a free report of your choice on completion of your course from our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/" target="_self">award-winning research library</a>.</li> <li>A friendly training team that will advise you on the course or programme that’s right for you.</li> <li>Small, collaborative classes (no more than 15 people).</li> </ul> <h3>Festival of Marketing</h3> <p>The lineup at this year’s Festival of Marketing is packed with great speakers and brands. Business icon Jo Malone joins <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69359-stephen-fry-to-headline-the-festival-of-marketing-2017">Stephen Fry</a> atop the bill, while marketing heavyweights Mark Ritson and Byron Sharp will go head-to-head in the other headline slot.</p> <p>Away from the headliners we have speakers from the world’s biggest brands, including Virgin, Unilever, Bentley and JustEat. After you’ve <a href="https://goo.gl/dsqgYw" target="_self">browsed the full agenda</a>, make sure to <a href="http://www.festivalofmarketing.com/buy-a-ticket?utm_source=econsultancy&amp;utm_medium=blog&amp;utm_campaign=econblog/" target="_self">buy your ticket</a>.</p> <p>...............Always be learning!</p>