Perhaps in marketing, more than in any other job function, the role has transformed dramatically in the last few years. Marketing quite simply is not what it used to be. Writing for the Harvard Business Review blog, Adele Sweetwood (2014) reports that modern marketing focuses on big data and analytics. This means that today’s marketer needs to be able to leverage new skills and abilities to deal with data and analytics. Sweetwood explains that finding those people and then going on to assess their abilities, hire them, train and motivate them are fundamental to the success of creating an analytical culture and being successful with marketing in the future.
Adele Sweetwood argues that:
“Today’s marketer needs to go well beyond reporting and metrics, and be more proficient in a full range of analytics which may include optimization, text, sentiment, scoring, modelling, visualisation, forecasting and attribution”.
That sounds like a tall order, but a new type of marketer is emerging that does have these skills. These marketers have a solid understanding of data management principles and analytical strategies, and perhaps most importantly of all they comprehend the value of data to marketing and why it needs to be governed appropriately. Marketing organisations must have these skills to be able to succeed, argues Sweetwood. Indeed, she opines modern marketers need to have experience with the tools, technology and design approaches that allow data and analytics to be used effectively. This includes understanding campaign design, content performance, multi-channel integration and digital marketing, as well as personalisation, in her opinion. In all of these areas the modern marketer needs to be able to react quickly and optimize to be able to change what they are doing to meet the needs of the customer and market.
They are highly creative people. Sweetwood describes them as “inquisitive and inventive” as well as being “enthused by a culture that is advanced and agile.
Interviewing and assessing these types of people can be challenging, but Adele Sweetwood provides some helpful solutions. She recommends using certain techniques to be able to truly test these marketers’ abilities in the required areas. One is looking for examples of projects and campaigns as well as other success stories that they are able to point to that really demonstrate their success with data and analytics. Excellent examples are those that show the role that their efforts in data and analytics played in decision making and evaluation. Ideally, Sweetwood argues, marketers would have a portfolio of their marketing analytics work to be able to share with prospective employers. This should demonstrate the use of analytics and working with data in different ways and in different stages, such as during the design phase, using analytics to make strategic decisions, testing strategies and assessing performance. Marketers that will be most successful will be able to demonstrate these skills and explain how they were able to influence change through what they achieved, or alternatively what they learned from mistakes in this area.
Adele Sweetwood recommends testing candidates both verbally and using written assessments. There are specific questions that she recommends that they answer in writing. These include questions such as: How do you approach decision making as it relates to marketing planning and investments? Another is: What is the difference between metrics and analytics? She also recommends asking: How would you describe marketing data? And: What analytic approaches have been most beneficial in your marketing efforts. Other questions of importance according to Sweetwood include: What role does technology play in marketing? And: How does marketing deliver value to the organisation? Understanding how up to date the candidate is can be achieved by asking them: How has data and analytics changed for marketing? As well as: What type of advanced analytic techniques have you been exposed to in your marketing career.
Overall, the firm argument of Adele Sweetwood is that modern marketers need to be more scientific in their approach in order to be able to succeed in today’s environment. This means being able to design an approach, test it, find problems with it and understand why they are occurring and then adapting and optimising solutions. This new generation of marketers will be much more technology focused and understand the real importance and value of measurement. Do your marketers do this? Maybe it is time to follow Sweetwood’s advice.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.