What makes a modern marketer?

Marketers must bridge the gap between businesses and their customers in ever more challenging conditions. Think you’re up to the challenge? Here’s what you need to know

It is a brave boast, but no-one understands the customer more than the marketing team. This critical business function will analyse data and uncover secrets and trends about existing and potential customers, which reveal insights that are increasingly driving the wider business strategy and ultimately boosting revenues.

If you choose a career in marketing, you will be joining an industry that has always been a combination of art and science. Despite the modern reliance on strong data and digital capabilities, today’s marketers must also be great storytellers. After all, they need to make products or services relevant to us as individuals, using creative communications and business acumen.

Adding value to businesses

Marketing’s value has risen over the years as its role has broadened and it interacts more closely with other business functions.

Stephanie Case, marketing director at food brand Charlie Bigham’s says marketing’s role is much more commercial than 20 years ago.

“It was about managing agencies and the creative, now we manage the product P&L, deliver projects and fuel innovation and are responsible for monitoring trends and creating insights,” she says. “We are shaping strategy as well as executing it.”

Charlie Bigham won a CIM Excellence in Marketing Award from the Food, Drink and Agriculture group earlier this year, and Case describes the marketing department as the ‘hub’ of the business. It brings other functions together, including sales, category management and cooperates with companies in the supply chain when creating and implementing campaigns.

“The marketing team must ensure the rest of the business and those outside it are as excited about the brand as we are.”

At Jaguar Land Rover, director of global brand operations, Amanda Phillips, agrees. She says her marketers must understand how their brand strategy impacts on the wider organisation. “My team needs to know how we create cars when planning campaigns,” she explains. “Our job touches design, engineering and manufacturing.”

Phillips believes marketing provides its best value when it works closely with sales. Marketing drives people’s desire for brands by conveying the right messages, before the baton is handed to sales to convert that craving into hard cash. “We put relevant and timely messages in front of people to keep the brand top of people’s minds when they are thinking of buying a car or coming into the car market. The sales team will then follow up the leads.”

All in a day’s work

A typical day for the Jaguar Land Rover marketing department involves team meetings to discuss campaign milestones around, for example, the launch of a new car. Some marketers will be gathering information for the customer magazine, others liaising with third-party marketing agencies, implementing campaign plans, writing campaign briefs or checking creative work.

“In marketing you tend to be given responsibility at a relatively low level, and the teams are dynamic in what is a fast-paced working environment,” says Phillips. And with the high street under pressure, retailing certainly requires its marketers to display different skills.

Phil Geary, chief marketing officer at toy store chain The Entertainer, says marketing’s value is higher than ever. “Marketing is no longer the department that colours stuff in,” he says of an idiom that is vastly outdated in today’s business environment. “In July the retail teams were focussed on Christmas, everything from the catalogue to staff outfits and the music we will play in store, to what the point of sale will look like. Meanwhile, the licensing team is already working with our film studio partners for 2020.”

For today’s marketer, a broad range of skills are necessary to work across function, with the ultimate aim of creating a compelling customer experience. Geary adds: “If you love to shop, use social media or you’re a gamer, try marketing.”

But where to start? If you enjoy writing, have your own blog and read more than you watch, then copywriting or PR might be the place for you. Or, if you’re a mathematical wizard, you may be a budding data analyst. Find out more about how to get started with CIM’s Make it in Marketing hub.

Thinking beyond brand

Many people want to work for big brand names such as Google and Facebook, but marketing can be just as exciting in industries that may not immediately appear as sexy.

Take insurance, for example.

At Admiral Group, head of marketing Alex Murphy cannot understand why anyone would not want to work in marketing. He welcomes young people or those with transferable skills, who are obsessive about data or keen to work as creatives and designers in the brand’s studios.

“Website and email marketing templates are classic examples of where creativity and data are intertwined,” he says.

Murphy believes a marketer’s greatest gifts are curiosity and resilience.

“You need to care why a customer acts a certain way, why a channel performs better one day and worse the next,” he says. “Many marketing campaigns will fail your expectations, as well as your bosses’, and you need to be able to suck that up, be curious about why and soldier on.”

Certainly, marketers are naturally curious. They have an interest in the world around them and in cultural trends. They will sniff around competitor activities, be interested in different audiences and want to discover the latest tools to work smarter.

Don’t ignore business brands

In the business to business world, marketing delivers huge value, but there is still a perception that the campaigns are not as creative as those targeting consumers.

This does not have to be the case. When people go to work, they still need to receive relevant messages that tap into their personal tastes and emotions, even if they are not spending their own money.

“Marketing adds huge value by getting future business customers to understand your brand in a different and more creative way,” says Rachel Powney, former marketing director at AOL and today VP of marketing at computer software company Scoro.

She adds that companies want today’s marketers to be risk-takers who will challenge the accepted norms of B2B marketing.

“On the creative side, we are hopefully moving away from campaigns featuring businesspeople on phones and laptops. You need to understand your buyer. Who is your audience and what are their pain points?

“There is an internal marketing role too. We need to get others in the organisation to understand the value of marketing. We also work with HR to improve the employer brand, so we attract the best people,” Powney concludes.

Above all, marketing is a vital business function with increasing power to make decisions internally that drive business strategy. As the profession touches more and more departments, it is the younger generation who will be driving change in the industry, bringing the transferable skills and ease with technology to confront the important questions facing businesses today. Marketing today really can be all things to all people – and organisations underestimate its value at their peril.

Whatever your route, a CIM professional marketing qualification provides an important step to finding your place on the career ladder. Find out the best one for you today: https://www.cim.co.uk/qualifications/

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