The outlook for the modern marketer is both good and bad. According to recent research from The Creative Group, marketing and advertising executives do not expect to make any reductions to staff in the first half of 2017. Yeah!!! Unfortunately, only 12% plan to add new positions, and 20% do not plan to fill vacated positions. So, it makes sense that marketers currently holding positions have to have the skills to drive the business. More importantly, for those that are going to hire, hiring the right person is even more important.

Understanding the role of the modern marketer is paramount.

As Marketing Profs contributor Jay Thomas recently wrote, “The truth is, when a CMO is preparing for the year ahead, the latest tactical trend isn’t nearly as important as continually focusing on how best to optimize Marketing’s contribution to revenue and business goals”. To be the best optimizer, the modern marketer must possess a perfect balance of strategist, teacher, interpreter, challenger and advocate.

Stop throwing tools at your goals without a strategy

Today’s modern marketer is a strategist, developing opinions on a future direction based on existing elements. Using big picture thinking, a strategist sees the destination and the journey instead of getting lost in the minute details of the map. Many marketers can get lost in the details. It could be a detail we like, a detail we know well or a detail that interests us. Those details should be the tools we use to teach and grow bench strength rather than the tasks we perform each day. And, that brings me to my next point.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ― Henry Adams.

The changing landscape of marketing tools, combined with the constant evolution of the customer, demands the modern marketer must be a lifelong student, but these very same influences also demand that she always be teaching her staff, her boss and her coworkers. Today’s marketer must continue to evolve to remain relevant. The modern marketer should be constantly learning…and constantly teaching. Engaged Nation COO Michael Paulos adds, “The modern-day marketer needs to be nimble and flexible but also open to change and to new ideas, ready to experiment and willing to learn.”

Data Interpretation is more important than the data

The data surrounding all our efforts is out there. In fact, there is too much out there. Suddenly the challenge isn’t getting data, it’s understanding the context so that it can be interpreted correctly. Modern marketers must clarify what investments lead to, which lead to results and which lead nowhere so that they can pay attention to the touchpoints that matter. I’m not just talking about the marketing analyst you work with. I’m talking about YOU, even if you’re responsible for advertising or promotions. We are all data analysts. “The modern marketer absolutely cannot ignore data’s contribution to their success. Even in historically “right brained” departments, leaders must know the impact of promotional cannibalization and layering while advertising leaders must consider such things as Net Promoter Score and cost per acquisition. It’s simply no longer good enough to only be able to throw a fun event or create a catchy ad campaign,” says Trent Dang, Industry Specialist Practice Director at VizExplorer.

Challenge biases and assumptions

Some of you may not know who Alan Alda is (and I am a little sad for you). He once advised, “Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub the off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” The modern marketer needs to think differently about marketing and how it is impacting the business. As Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation, recently said, “Don’t be a box checker.” It’s not enough to make a list of tactics and put them into play. You must understand the relationship to your goals and to your customers. Often, some of our biggest challenges can be the “suggestions ” we can get from our bosses or fellow executives. Doug Kessler, Creative Director & Co-Founder of Velocity Partners, Ltd makes a great observation. “Marketers should stop kissing the asses of our executive ‘stakeholders’ and start standing up for what we know to be great marketing. It’s hard to stand with confidence when you’re kissing ass.” After all, a dumb idea is still a dumb idea, no matter the source. Marketers need the backbone to point that out, instead of rushing off to execute it.

Can hear me now?

The process of understanding the needs and desires of the customer is a key piece in the journey to engaging and developing relationships with them. According to the Gartner Group, 89% of companies expect to be competing primarily on customer experience. To compete, businesses must deliver a great experience, fulfilling needs and desires on almost continually evolving basis. The ability to listen to customers is a skill no marketer can do without. Additionally, CMO.com reports companies with best in class voice of the customer programs
• Enjoy 55% greater customer retention rates,
• Have an average 23% decrease in year-over-year customer service costs and
• Sport 292% greater employee engagement rates.

Budgets on the rise = expectations on the rise

Gartner has also found marketing budgets on the rise as we enter 2017. This is great news but also a double-edge sword because as marketers take responsibility of increased dollars their responsibility for growth and revenue also increases. The expectation of the modern marketer is to prove business impact and demonstrate stewardship over all marketing efforts.