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Marketing has evolved from being in the business of mass communications, to become the steward of the customer relationship. As part of this evolution, marketers have been required to develop new skills and areas of expertise. Therefore when looking to upskill or bring in new talent to the team, what should or shouldn’t you look out for?

Tomorrow’s marketers aren’t defined by a specific skillset; they’re defined by their attitudes. I’ve met a number of successful marketers today who are known as “accidental” marketers. They started with backgrounds in different industries and fields, so what helped them transform into a marketer? Their intrinsic traits, not their skills.

Tomorrow’s marketer is:

  • Intellectually curious
  • Creative
  • Strategic
  • Determined
  • Analytical
  • A storyteller
  • Multi-disciplined
  • Enjoys engaging in conversations
As we begin to embrace the attributes of tomorrow’s marketer, it’s good to look outside of marketing for inspiration. At Marketo’s recent Marketing Nation Summit, actor and musician Will Smith shared his views on this, including how to connect with audiences, reinventing yourself and work-life balance. The four points that really resonated with me are:
  • Emotion is vital.Connecting with audiences—as a marketer or an entertainer—is about emotion. Will Smith described how to be successful, you need to understand people, put yourself in their shoes, and offer them something that will make them feel good or connect with a universal emotion. A universally relatable emotion becomes the centre of the experience, and that’s what breeds success. Using The Pursuit of Happyness as an example, the emotion was centred on a parent not being able to provide for his child – a feeling that an audience could connect to. Whereas with Wild, Wild West, the emotion was absent.
  • Technology changes everything. In his 30-year career as an entertainer, changes in technology have forced Will to evolve and immerse himself in new ways of being centred, “It’s hard to think your way to a connection. You just can’t beat sitting in a crowd and feeling it.”
  • Authenticity is the key to balance.When asked how he and his busy family balance work and life, Will evangelised the need to work from a ‘framework of authenticity’. Work and life are not separate aspects of your life, and authenticity is the through line to use as the basis for all your actions and interactions. He believes that technology therefore, forces you to be authentic because we’re in a world where you really can’t hide anything.
  • Failure is a path to success. When asked about the fear of career transformation and change, Will Smith explained that he has a mantra that his family uses and lives by, “It’s one that I don’t know who said it, so I adopted it and call it mine: Fail early, fail often, fail forward.” The philosophy behind this is looking at failure as a way to succeed and aiming to fail rapidly.
Alison Levine, a famous and intrepid explorer, emphasised the power of resilience when she spoke at the Marketing Nation Summit. She told the audience of marketers her story of climbing Everest, from the journey between trekking back and forth between base camp and different levels of high camp in order to acclimatise her body to the altitude; to getting 300ft from the true summit and turning around. Alison highlighted several key lessons that apply to tomorrow’s marketer:
  • Fear is natural; complacency will kill you
  • Taking a step back is not the same as quitting
  • You have to take action based on the situation at the time. Your plan is old the second you finish it
  • You don’t need clarity to put one foot in front of the other
  • The lessons you learn on your way are the most valuable part of your journey. You have to give yourself and your team permission to fail
  • Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they do not, but you have to be there and be willing to weather the storm if you are ever going to have an opportunity
In today’s new IoT, everywhere world, tomorrow’s marketer has to meet customers wherever they are. And it’s through these traits that they can quickly adapt to the technology and skills that are required to help them do this. As such, team leaders should be looking to bring these people into the organisation in order to see the team thrive. Equally if you have these traits, make sure people know it and you will soar. While it’s important to have deep specialisation within your organisation, the marketers and marketing teams of tomorrow need to know how to operate horizontally. Importantly, no matter the channel, function, or opportunity, tomorrow’s marketer is always looking to learn, practice, and grow their skills.

Lastly, tomorrow’s marketer will take no S#!t. They’re determined and persistent, in spite of anything that may come their way. Marketing is driving organisations through digital transformation and customer-centric journeys; with these attributes, you will be equipped to be tomorrow’s marketer.

What’s clear that that the marketing we used to know is gone. Marketing is now the very essence of a company. Marketing is the brand. Marketing is the customer experience. This means the future looks bright for marketers, as they look to embrace the opportunities this shift offers.

By Conor Shaw, MD of Marketo, EMEA