The Merchant Stand - A Marketing Technology Place

Marketing technologists are in demand

Marketing technology positions are in demand.
A recent news release from The Creative Group provides information on upcoming hiring expectations for marketing and advertising executives. While the report doesn’t use the term “marketing technology” it does offer evidence that marketing technologists are growing in demand. There is a quote in the release from Donna Farrugia, Executive Director, “Hiring managers at organizations of all sizes and in every industry seek professionals who can help develop and execute digital campaigns, and cultivate online communities.” Additionally, the report says 51 percent of marketing and advertising executives think it is difficult to find skilled creative professionals.

Jobs Help Wanted

Jobs – For the creative marketer

Is this a wake up call for traditional marketers?
Traditional marketing strategy around broadcast advertisements that use one way brand communications are becoming tougher and tougher to justify. I bet many marketers could prove through their tracking that it’s also becoming less effective. Notice in the quote from Farrugia the phrase “cultivate online communities”. Marketing and advertising agencies are looking for digital marketers that can create two way communications and connect brands with audiences in more meaningful ways. That frames one of the primary purposes of a marketing technologist; use technology to connect business with customers.

“It’s not about the ads, it’s about the marketing.”
Mitch Joel discusses the problem marketers face with ads on his blog with thoughts about just how many ads are displayed in our tech driven world today.  Facebook is developing new ways to serve ads. Google search results are filling with more ads. Media publications use ads above the fold or before the video clip.  Marketers are challenged not only to target the right audience but keeping that audience engaged in activities and conversations.

I think that maps back perfectly to the findings from The Creative Group. Today’s marketer needs to be creative and tech savvy as well. It’s not easy cultivating online communities. Two-way marketing creates dialogue and it fosters word-of-mouth marketing. This is more than advertising. This is more than brand messaging. This is part of the transforming world of marketing.

What are we really learning at conferences?

Are conferences worth our time?
I spent the last two days at Digital Summit 2012 conference in the Atlanta area.  As today neared the closing session, I was reflecting on some notes I had taken and I thought “what am I really learning from all this?” Certainly it’s a question that attendees, presenters, sponsors, and booth marketers ask themselves at conferences. Was the conference worth the cost, energy, and time spent?Digital Summit 2012

The classic answers.
– It’s a chance to network and find out what others are doing in my industry.
– It’s a chance to listen to speakers talk about how they have solved problems we all face.
– It’s a chance to find leads and prospective clients.
– It’s a chance to find new ideas to help us solve problems.

Well maybe. My experience is that groups of people from the same organization tend to hang-out with each other and not network all that much. As I look around a room when speakers are talking, I see a large percentage of people checking email from work and not really listening to the speaker.  As with most everything we do in life, we get out of it what we put into it.

There are different conference formats.
If you have never attended a BarCamp you should so that you can compare different conference styles. I have twice attended Product Camp Atlanta for product managers and marketers. These conferences are less structured, often with participants voting on the topics to be discussed. Participants are encouraged to become part of the presentations in a knowledge-share and discussion format. Sales pitches are discouraged and can be “booed” by participants.

Now I’m not promoting BarCamps over the traditional trade show conferences. I’m just pointing out various styles. Whether the conference is full of vendor booths, speaker sessions, or collaborative learning groups, we still get out of it what we put into it.

Digital Summit had a few recurring themes.
If I had to summarize all of the presentations I heard at Digital Summit this year it would be: Use data to measure how people are interacting with your brand so that you can influence them take some action (purchase, share, converse).

Nothing earth shattering with that statement. It covers some the basics of marketing. But as you would expect at a digital marketing conference, there was heavy emphasis on analytics, advertising, mobile, social, and search. I found some speakers engaging and others not so much.

A few specific thoughts that I think are worth repeating include:

  • Michael Loban of InfoTrust saying that “what gets measured get’s done”. Loban talked about data existing in context. Marketers should understand the data in context and find what is actionable.
  • In a talk about mobile development Jim Zimmerman of Thuzi discussed the importance of navigation in mobile design. It should be simple and clutter free. Consumers won’t navigate burdensome sites on a mobile device.
  • Tony Haile of Chartbeat gave a unique presentation because he didn’t use any slides. He made the content of his speech engaging and relevant. One key thought from Haile was that real-time data is useless unless you setup your organization to respond quickly to events. The idea of the adaptive business is to create fast tactical responses to achieve better results. He used Toyota and the US Marines as examples of this concept.

It’s our professional game.
At the end of the day, conferences are about making connections with people in our professional game. Just like a professional athlete works to sharpen their skills, a professional knowledge worker must do the same.

I’ve coached youth athletics for almost ten years and one thing that is a must for any coach wanting to stay on top of his game, is networking with other coaches to trade knowledge. It usually involves exchanging ideas on different drills to run for certain skills.  That’s the same concept as sharing information at a conference. Fresh ideas and new insights.

So what are really learning at conferences? We’re learning to stay connected with people. We’re learning to share knowledge. We’re sharpening our skills because the next time we play our professional game we want to score more.

So let’s score more. In fact, in your professional game you can run-up the score. If you were at Digital Summit 2012 or have other thoughts on professional conferences I’d like to hear from you.

Thought readings 6

Each week I capture, mark, and comment on blog posts and news articles around the internet. This is a short-list of three links that I think others will find valuable for their thought lives.

  1. In New Office Designs, Room to Roam and to Think by Lawrence W. Cheek from the New York Times. I find that changing scenery helps me to think and work better so I was drawn to this article on work spaces. I’m glad to home office once a week but I wish my regular work office arrangement had more variation. Check out the designs in the article.
  2. What do you call a Marketing Technologist by Scott Brinker from the Chief Marketing Technologist blog. This article brought-out the geek side in me a little and I laughed with the automata chart (very creative). But geekiness aside, it’s an important topic for organizations to consider in how they structure and assign responsibilities.
  3. Does stock photography help…or hurt? by Dave McCue from SubscriberMail. (Full disclosure – SubscriberMail is owned by my employer Harland Clarke). I’ve always thought stock photography of people does not help convey messages. To me it looks fake and not authentic. Often I see photos that looked forced as they convey images of over-happiness or politically correct diverse representation of a group. I wish companies would use photographs of the employees who perform the services or make the products they are selling.

Let me know what links you shared, tagged, or commented on this week.

The empowered marketer – yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Technology and the Internet are changing the way consumers and marketers interact with each other. This is the second of a two part post about how consumers and marketers provide and consume information leading to purchases. The first post focused on the empowered consumer. In this post I’ll discuss the empowered marketer and how marketers can use technology that is readily available to better target and reach consumers. I close with some thoughts about how marketers will reach consumers in the future.

In the past, marketers followed the classic steps of segmentation, targeting, and positioning to create and distribute content to an audience. The output was an ad, promotion, informational piece, etc. that was fanned out to audiences as a ‘push’.  I use the word ‘push’ because the marketer picked their medium and broadcast the message to anyone who used that medium. The message itself was a one- size-fits-all for that particular customer segment.

Today, the marketer uses tools to take a more sophisticated look at customer data when deciding on their message. This allows marketers to create more refined target segments and more sophisticated positioning techniques. Here are some examples:

  • Access to customer past purchases and profile information. This in itself isn’t new. But today’s marketer is able to see a consolidated view of this data regardless of the channel that the consumer used in the past.  The advantage of this is that it gives the marketer a more complete customer profile and the ability to complete an enterprise wide customer segmentation strategy.
  • Access to customer and prospect preferences through analysis of onsite behavior. Customer preferences are not limited to what the customer has purchased in the past. Within the Internet channel, marketers can now track browsing patterns independent of purchases. These preferences can be used to tailor the web browsing experience for both customers and prospects.  Notice how top retailers like Amazon use sections like “more items to consider” and “customers who viewed this also viewed”.  The items in these areas are based on the behaviors and browsing patterns previously exhibited by the consumer.
  • Access to analytics modeling that predicts future behaviors.  This sounds a little like the last point about predicting customer preferences. The difference is that this type of data modeling will look at customer purchases to predict something a customer might do in the future. Here’s a simple example from the banking industry. If a customer does not have any transactions in their checking account in the last four months then this could be an indicator they may close all of their accounts and move them to another institution in the future.  Other examples might predict if a customer is likely to accept an offer for opening a home equity line of credit based on the other accounts open and usage patterns.
  • Access to customer reviews. While consumers use customer reviews to help make purchasing decisions, marketers can also use customer reviews to improve and refine their product or service. It’s like an instant survey where the marketer gets feedback to help them with future messages.

    With all of this information, today’s marketer should be developing one-to-one marketing messages. These are messages that are customized for the particular customer on their web site.  Marketers can send messages that talk to a customer for who they are and what they like.

    What does your personal messaging say?

    What does your personal messaging say?

    What does the future hold? I have a few ideas of where we are headed:

    1. Web sites will follow the example of search engines and use the current location of a visitor to determine what content to show. In addition to using the zip code of the customer profile, Internet marketers will also begin to use the IP address of the visitor to determine their location and the resulting content. One example of how this could be powerful is to tie the recommendation and ad content into the weather forecast for the coming days in that area.
    2. Marketers will be developing and expanding messages and content made to fit within mobile devices.
    3. As consumers move towards voice operated search and navigation, marketers will respond with content and messaging to display in that environment.
    4. Marketers will base content and messaging based on choices the consumer did not make in the past. So instead of focusing on the positive decisions made, marketers will infer consumer preferences on those things they previously offered that the consumer did not choose.