Marketing Super Heroes – Fact or Fiction?

July 9, 2013 Ashley Brucker Stepien

content-marketing-superhero

This week I received a phone call from a long-time-client-turned-friend. After some catching up, she came clean with the reason she was really calling and she asked the question I get faced with a lot, “I think I need to hire someone or maybe I need to re-org my team. We’re missing something but I can’t put my finger on it. Should I hire someone to do these ‘new things’ or should I train my team? What are the skillsets I should be looking for in candidates? Better yet- can you just send me someone?” These are maybe the most important questions a Marketing Executive can ask themselves. Your team and the people you hire are a direct extension of you and your work- don’t you only want the best representing you? If you’re an employer, read on and if you’re a hopeful employee, well, read on.The typical marketing team is made of the following: a Field Marketer, a Corporate Marketer, a Customer Marketer, an Event Manager, and the trusty catch-all, the Marketing Coordinator. But these terms are a bit broad these days. It used to be that you said, “I’m in marketing” and maybe it drummed up visions of arts & crafts, throwing “business” parties, tradeshows & conferences in Las Vegas or maybe even the Mad Men-esque advertising meetings (while day drinking of course. See appropriate “what I really do” meme.) But we can’t ignore that the landscape of marketing continues to change which means the makeup of your marketing teams and employees has to shift as well. I’m watching companies grapple with this transformation. A lot are addressing these changes, and rightly so, with buying state-of-the-art marketing platforms: marketing automation, social media platforms, BI tools, etc. But those tools- albeit critical- are not silver bullets. In fact, when you bought them you maybe forgot to read the label: “Handle with care. Keep away from children- adult supervision required.” Missed that, did you? Most do.

What I mean to say is, these tools get you a lot of the way but the people power and skills to run them are just as important if not more so. Now the marketing executive realizes they don’t have the super skills they need and they sit back and say, “Should I hire someone to do these ‘new things’ or should I train my team? What are the skillsets I should be looking for in candidates?” Sound familiar? Well it should, it’s only from three paragraphs ago. And now we’re onto the meat of the issue: Marketing Super Heroes- fact or fiction?

Both.

Fact

The marketing super heroes. They’re out there- watching, tweeting, testing, analyzing. And you need them – whether you’ve realized it or not. They’ll support your marketing team by infusing them with expert knowledge in the newest marketing spaces. Let’s unmask these mavens one by one.

Marketing Automation Master

They know marketing automation and email platforms like the back of their hand. They collaborate with team members to develop the ultimate campaigns which they test and optimize ruthlessly. They’re not afraid of CRM – in fact, they do more in salesforce.com before breakfast than you do all week. They mastermind processes to make sure no lead is left behind and they enforce Service Level Agreements with the best of them. They likely have a marketing operations background and an affinity for new marketing technologies.

Content Connaisseur

A newer addition to the cracker-jack squad but a rising star nonetheless. They do content- all content, all the time, and at insane rates. They know how to write about things they have no business writing about. They scour the internet for interesting facts and they may even dabble in some HTML. They put unimaginable spins on the most mundane of topics and turn it into dolla-dolla bills. They know the buttons to push to get your customers talking, engaging, and buying. They probably have a degree (or many) in English but they need to pay the bills while they’re completing their opus.

Data Management Detective

Yes, they’re part of the league of marketing super heroes. They’re the guy back at headquarters analyzing and tracking the bad guy. They are perfectionists at heart and take pride in good clean data. They have a slew of tools in their tool belt made for de-duping, normalizing, and routing. They’re used to not being in the spotlight but they’re the real brains behind the brawns of a marketing organization that the sales organization really respects. They were probably a CRM admin in a past life.

Social Media Swami (what? “Yogi” didn’t have that same alliterative punch- just go with it)

One of the more elusive team members but quickly becoming the most popular. They are social beings by nature who cannot believe they get to be social for a living. They know the formula for the perfect combination of tweets, facebook posts, and blogs. They know when the situation calls for a “re-post” or an original piece. They thrive in unpredictable situations of tweet-to-tweet combat with a potentially hostile customer. They automate the process which magically transforms a social interaction into a sales lead or service case. They’re not afraid of the social unknown and when it comes to reaction there’s no time but real-time for these swamis.

So that’s the “Fact” part, as promised. These super heroes do exist, they’re crawling the streets of most major metropolises but, like all good superheroes, they’re masked. It takes some searching, some adjusting of your job postings, and some creative recruiting.

Or….

Fiction

Now comes the “Fiction” argument and it’s rooted in the question: are you in the Superman camp or the Spider-Man camp? More artfully put in Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 3, “a staple of the superhero mythology is there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego.” (A clip for your viewing pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfGRnMwPhXE) Point being, perhaps some heroes are born and some are made. You, too, can become one of the above mavens because maybe there’s no such thing as a superhero. Maybe they’re just people with a highly unique and cultivated skill-set which set them apart from the rest. So to the hopeful employee, I say raise your hand. Tell your manager that you want to learn, you want to become specialized and hone your skills around one in-demand area that’ll set you apart from the pack. And if we want to get literal, I would start developing a black-belt in one or all of the following:

  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Blogging
  • salesforce.com Marketing Cloud, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, CrowdBooster
  • Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Hubspot and Exact Target
  • DemandTools, Trillium
  • QlikView, Tableau, Jaspersoft
  • Google Analytics

And to the Marketing Executive in distress I say, “look at your team, do you see some raw talent? An affinity for learning and growing?” Yes? Then INVEST in the training and development. Turn your team into the legion of marketing untouchables by enlisting a partner to jump-start the transformation by identifying process pain points and areas of need in your marketing strategy. You and your team will be better for it. And once you’ve done that, and you’ve still got gaps, raise the Batman Signal and sound the alarms for your recruiters to find the missing hero.

Ashley Brucker is a Marketing Automation expert with 6 years of experience implementing Marketing Automation for global and enterprise companies. A member of Appirio’s CRM Strategy Team, Ashley focuses on helping customers transform their business with Marketing Automation and Marketing Cloud.

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