The three things marketers require to meet the needs of modern customers

The nature of modern customers means marketers face a radically different landscape to their predecessors. Only those that blend knowledge, skills and mindset will prevail.

theory practiceThe nature of modern customers means marketers face a radically different landscape from their marketing forefathers and mothers.

Customers expect to make purchases and consume content 168 hours a week, whenever, and however, they choose. The rise of the 168-hour economy, at a time when the majority of marketers still expect to work the traditional 38-hour week of the 1960s, means many brands and services are failing to keep pace with expectations.

Ask senior marketers what marketing framework they’re most familiar with, they will offer McCarthy’s 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion) first published in 1960. Over the years, other models emerged. In 1981 Booms and Bitner added a further three Ps (people, process and physical evidence) and in 1990 Lauterborn heralded a more customer-centric model with the 4Cs (consumer, cost, communication and convenience).

To liberate the modern marketer something needs to change.

To help identify the skillsets to succeed, Econsultancy surveyed hundreds of marketing leaders from around the world to find the skills they need most. The resulting report, The Skills of the Modern Marketer should ring alarm bells for all marketers and the CEOs who hire them. Our findings show too few marketers know what marketing is, are taking responsibility for the marketing skills their people are trained in or have the mindset essential to thrive in the modern era.

Continue along this path and many brands will struggle to connect with their customers, let alone know how to influence their behaviour for commercial gain.

The findings are clear. Three skillsets – marketing knowledge, marketing skills and marketing mindset – sit at the heart of what a modern marketer is today. They are interconnected and inescapably intertwined, with each equally important to success.

Marketing knowledge. Knowing what marketing is and understanding marketing competence, concepts and the guiding principles through self-study, formal learning and/or experience.

According to Marketing Week’s latest Career and Salary Survey, just 46% of marketers have a marketing degree or certified marketing qualification of any kind, and this drops to just one in four when looking at those with a marketing degree alone.

Without a solid understanding of marketing principles you simply find yourself following discrete processes with no awareness of the purpose of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it or the bigger picture of marketing.

The findings of the survey raise the uncomfortable question of how many of today’s marketing ‘professionals’ have a credible understanding of what marketing really is.

To thrive, modern marketers need at least a foundation of knowledge upon which skills can be built from, and these can be learnt via traditional routes such as degree programmes or via CPD accredited agile courses.

Marketing skills. The skills needed to apply marketing knowledge, best demonstrated when a marketer is able to do something with some amount of confidence. These are acquired through time, practice and a professional understanding of marketing knowledge.

The most knowledgeable marketer in the building is the CMO so, naturally, she or he should be responsible for the skills their team learns. However, Econsultancy’s How Marketers Learn report found that senior marketers are responsible for just 14% of learning programmes. This raises another uncomfortable question – just how much investment is being wasted on training marketing skills that aren’t fit for purpose, or based on low to no marketing knowledge from the person briefing them?

This is further emphasised by just 13% or less of the marketers surveyed in the Skills of Modern Marketing report rating themselves an ‘expert’ in strategy, data and measurement or brand management. The three areas that should be the foundation of every professional marketer’s career.

Marketing mindset. The driver of the behaviours and attitudes necessary to build a sustainable career in modern marketing.

I admit there’s nothing new in reading the need to acquire marketing knowledge or marketing skills, even if it does feel like a punch in the guts to learn that over half of marketers have no qualified professional knowledge, and more than 80% are, at best, being trained in imperfect skills.

However, what we crucially learnt was the modern marketer must adopt a marketing mindset if they are to cope with the unforgiving and relentless pace of change that the new order of unlimited digital possibility creates. The 168-hour economy isn’t interested in waiting, or what happened in 1960, it’s interested in building, and as it builds on the original principles of the 4Ps it needs the modern marketer to build with it, and to do this requires adoption of a mindset.

In the skills report, more than two thirds of respondents identified the ability to embrace change, critically think, and collaborate as the three most important ‘soft skills’ or mindsets necessary to have a successful career in marketing today. In fact, over 90% of marketers ranked the ‘ability to embrace change’ in the top two boxes, with accompanying verbatims relating directly to their ability to learn. After all, to embrace change is to learn new ways of doing things.

Mindset enables the modern marketer to think and act differently. It is the spark that ensures you never become complicit in learning skills no longer relevant, and it’s the fuel to always have the right marketing knowledge to apply them.

The marketers who prevail will be the ones who embrace the founding principles, both new and old, of marketing knowledge, apply them with excellence through marketing skills, and develop an insatiable appetite to learn through marketing mindset.

Richard Robinson is managing partner of Marketing Week sister brand Econsultancy. Click here to download the Skills of Modern Marketing report.



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