Before we dig into the article, I'm throwing up a blogging challenge and I'd invite you to do the same! Here it is:
A brand new year is upon us. Before diving into 2015 and all of the promise it holds, it's an ideal time to reflect on our experiences over the past year and what we have to look forward to in the upcoming year.
At this point, you've likely seen this comment in every business related article: Marketing became even more complex in 2014, with new platforms, users consuming media in new an exciting ways, and making purchasing decisions in drastically different ways than ever before.
We are indeed herding cats...[youtube id="m_MaJDK3VNE" align="center" mode="lazyload" autoplay="no"]
We saw the rise of SnapChat, Yo, and Instagram to name just a few. YouTube matured from an "online video" platform into a video consumption platform for the masses.
Mobile has crossed the divide into the average consumers day-to-day life. No longer is it the tech elite who are sporting highly advanced mobile devices and using these cool devices daily. It's your mom and grandfather.
BitCoin went from being an interesting toy to being a mainstream payment method, unlocking significant opportunity for businesses and individuals. The Internet of Everything is coming very soon, the interconnectedness of our world is accelerating.
As modern marketers attempting to navigate the complex waters of the modern business landscape what do we need to know to be successful in 2015?
First, let's cover some core philosophies we carry with us everyday at The Hive:
Marketers do not simply accept the product as it is, we listen, measure and recommend specific products changes that will have a positive effect on the business.
Marketers are no longer simply waving banners and shouting from mountain tops. We are data driven, technical and care deeply about the person on the other end of the line.
Marketing teams have the potential to be highly effective collaborative "lynch pin" groups bringing together development, sales, product, executive and design teams.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about what we need to work on this year...
Understanding (and Being Comfortable with) Code
The days when the marketing team simply handed off marketing creative and concepts to development and design teams should be dead and gone.
Technically savvy, constantly learning, enabled marketers are indeed unicorns, able to manage marketing execution in real time.
Hopefully this classic quote by David Packard will lose relevance:
Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.
Code skills begin with HTML and CSS. These are the basic building blocks of your capabilities, next steps would include an understanding of web technologies; how data, consumer activities and performance are affected by your marketing efforts.
Getting started in understanding code is easy, we're lucky to have access to low cost, great platforms like Codecademy. Keep in mind you don't need to be a code warrior, you do need to understand what you're looking at and how things work together.
You'll be more effective, knowledgeable and empowered to achieve those targets you've set, developers won't scoff at us marketers (well maybe they simply won't scoff as much!) and we'll be able to execute rather than write execution briefs. These skills make us valuable in the "new normal" landscape of modern marketing.
Some great places to hone your coding skills:
Data and Business Analytics
Are you still looking at the Sessions Overview in Google Analytics and cheering when the chart goes up and to the right?
Taking time to understand how our efforts are impacting the business directly will make the difference between statements like:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half. ~ John Wanamaker
and being able to make data driven, knowledgeable and thoughtful decisions. With the number of different data points available it's important that we all consistently hone our ability to derive insights using tools such as Google Analytics, KISSMetics, CrazyEgg and all of the platforms we use regularly such as Hubspot, MailChimp, Pure360, ActOn and other marketing platforms.
2015 is the time for us as Marketers to quantify our efforts regularly, understand how to measure those efforts and translate those results into the next steps of any marketing campaign.
Always remembering that we are working to extract actionable information from the data, not simply trying to defend a particular campaign.
Handy Analytics Resources:
Design and Implement Marketing Execution Roadmaps
Ideas are Cheap and Abundant. Execution is Everything.
Ideas are extremely cheap. Execution is everything. Planned execution is the goal we all need to set for ourselves on a regular basis.
Roadmaps are good, they reduce friction, make execution steps clear to everyone involved, provide clarity of purpose and set teams up for success rather than prime them for failure.
Too often Marketers are put at the end of other individuals and team whips. What's the solution?
Planning, clarity and communication. Your peers will respect the process, after a few model run throughs you'll see the benefit of your hard work.
Marketing campaign roadmaps include the following elements:
- The Campaign Overview. It includes the 5Ws of the campaign with details, next steps, responsibilities, flight dates and KPIs being measured.
- Create Wireframes. They are critical to success, they layout the process, language and flow you are anticipating to occur during the marketing process.
- Lay out the Nurturing Process. We only wish we could convert 100% of leads to customers. Some people simply are not ready for that, but we definitely don't want to lose or even worse ignore them.
- Growth Hacking Strategies and Steps. We won't simply post and pray, nor will we simply throw up paid efforts to drive individuals to a conversion. We'll get creative, get out there and promote our product through numerous channels: PR, community, social, content, video, infographics are some examples. What are we going to do and how are we going to do it? Defining this will make execution clear and defined.
These roadmaps are the bread and butter of the modern marketer, they don't need to be elaborate. They will most certainly reduce friction freeing you to achieve your acquisition, growth and revenue goals. Which is after all why we're doing all of this marketing in the first place.
Some great marketing planning resources include:
Develop User Experience (UX) Skill Sets
User Experience (UX) involves a person's behaviours, attitudes, and emotions about using a particular product, system or service.
It's not just about the layout of the page and the technical design implications of your product. It's about the person at the receiving end of your product, how they feel, what emotions are triggered. These are extremely important issues.
User Experience is about much more than the clicks a person takes and it often occurs outside of the interaction episodes which take place.
It's how they feel about your product?
What do their friends say?
What does the media say?
How is your brand perceived?
When we are focusing on User Experience we see good overall user experience with a company's products as critical for securing brand loyalty and enhancing the growth of customer base.
As Marketers who are talking to people in so many different places, it's critical that we appreciate, understand and continually focus on the experiences of our communities.
I'm also purposely using specific terms (words matter) users are customers and they are people. User and customer bases are communities.
We need to build communities and relationships in 2015 more than ever. Focusing on developing our User Experience skills into practical action should be high on the list of priorities throughout the year.
I know it's high on my personal list.
Some great User Experience resources:
Hone Those Writing Skills
Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~ Mark Twain
Even though we're literally barraged with new technologies on a daily basis, the written word continues to dominate as a required skill for every marketer regardless of background, role or experience.
Believe it or not, I've actually run into numerous "marketing professionals" who will claim to either not write or (even worse) don't give writing the importance it deserves.
Let's agree on one thing: words matter. They matter alot.
As a Marketer, heck as a person, writing and more importantly communication is one of the most important skills we can hone on a regular basis. If you're a marketer in 2015 here are the items I would suggest:
Dedicate yourself to blogging on a regular basis, at minimum on a weekly basis. There is no excuse no to do it. Pick your platform: Medium, WordPress, Quora, LinkedIn whichever and just do it.
I've committed to content creation on a regular basis, I am now committing to a 2 post per week schedule for 2015.
It's not going to be easy, but it's a challenge I'm willing to stay up late into the night or early in the morning to commit to sticking with all year long.
Focus on form and flow: writing is on one hand natural, on the other hand it's extremely awkward. It can be hard to get your point across to a potentially "uninformed" audience.
When I say that, I mean the reader cannot reach into your brain and glean your meaning, it's our job to convey that through form and flow.
Making sure writing serves a purpose: creating content for the sake of creating content is nothing more than white noise. Laying out even a basic content strategy and sticking to it is important.
We all need goals and once readers understand the goal of your content creation, they'll come back for more. As long as you (and me) are consistent!
Another personal goal of mine for 2015 is to develop my script writing skills as it applies to video content creation. It's a completely different spin on content creation but it's a rewarding and valuable process.
In 2015 every Marketer should really commit to a similar set of challenges.
Our ability to communicate as marketers, the words we use in print, on websites, landing pages, calls to action, on social media outlets and everywhere is fundamentally core to our profession.
Also keeping in mind that writing is a damn
very difficult thing to do.
Some of my favourite writing resources:
Create a Diligent Persona Development Process
If it was true today, it might be untrue tomorrow. ~ Janet Morris
Persona development is a core process that's required in order to truly understand who we are speaking to.
It's deeper than demographic profiling, much deeper.
It touches on philosophies, pain points, motivations, language styles. It's a focus on the person not the demographic. Once we begin to understand our customers and community we can work to connect to them in substantial ways.
Persona development is an ongoing process of talking to people, understanding them.
It's not a front loaded, "one and done" process although it is often treated that way. Becoming comfortable with the process, and in fact creating a process is key successful ongoing persona development.
Here at Honeypot we spend alot of time working on our own Persona Development Process.
In 2015 we're focusing on the "Never Ending Persona". It includes consistent communication with real people on a regular basis, capturing the psychology of the people that make up the communities we are trying to speak with.
In order to be successful it's our goal to build the Never Ending Persona into our products and services and those of our awesome clients. It's an exciting and satisfying goal for the upcoming year.
After all, talking to the people that care about what we're doing is a very enjoyable experience.
Persona Development Resources:
There will always be more to work on as Marketers, I'm sure next year when we're talking about 2016 things will look the same but drastically different (if that makes any sense!).
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on what I believe to be essential skills for every Marketing professional in 2015.
Now go forth, conquer and have an awesome 2015 full of success!