How to Become a Better Digital Marketer? First, Learn Marketing.
In this series, we’re going to explore the relationship between digital marketing and the overall marketing ecosystem. Countless thought leaders have claimed that digital has changed the marketing landscape forever. We argue that, while digital technology has changed certain aspects of marketing, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same.
I don’t consider myself a digital marketer. Yes, despite my title as a Digital Marketing Strategist and my passion for the work, I hate being a called a digital marketer. Why?
Because I am a marketer. Not a digital marketer.
The internet and technology has not fundamentally changed the marketing game. Tactically, yes. Fundamentally, no. I agree wholeheartedly that digital has improved a marketer’s ability to more precisely target an audience and measure the results of campaigns. As a data-driven strategist, this is precisely why I love planning and executing digital campaigns. But the fundamentals of marketing have not changed.
What has digital changed?
The channels have changed. Google, Facebook, and Snapchat are just a few of the new channels that marketers have in their arsenal to reach and influence consumers. There are more channels than ever before, but the need for marketers to match the message to the medium is as important now as it was in the 1960s. So is the need to pick the medium based on a specific target audience.
The devices have changed. Over 50% of web traffic now comes from mobile devices. Keep in mind mobile is not a channel, it’s just a new device (e.g. television, computer, book, etc.) from which people consume content. Marketers must consider the context in which people consume content on mobile devices.
Consumer behavior has changed. Twenty years ago people would turn to a friend or the Yellow Pages when searching for information. People now turn to Google for answers. Instead of going to a store and talking to a sales representative, consumers can now visit a website to learn more about a company and the products/services it offers. Moreover, consumers are now making informed decisions based off of reviews from previous customers to evaluate service and/or quality before they make a purchasing decision.
But the fundamentals of marketing have not changed.
There are still truths that great marketers adhere to today that are just as relevant as they were 50 years ago. Before writing this post, I scoured through old college textbooks (riveting, I know) and Googled definitions of the term marketing. Here’s what I found:
Hubspot: “Marketing is the process of getting consumers interested in your company’s product or service. This happens through marketing research, analysis, and a solid understanding of your ideal consumer’s wants and needs. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.”
American Marketing Association: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Both of these definitions have three things in a common:
The consumer should be at the center of everything you do. And I mean everything. Talk to your consumer. Study how they make purchasing decisions. Know their needs and the benefits they seek. This doesn’t necessitate embarking on long, expensive market research projects. But it does mean that you should be investing in initiatives to better understand your consumer – where they are, what they want, and how your brand can help better their life.
Marketing is a system.
Marketing extends further than just advertising. Advertising is always marketing, but marketing is not always advertising. Enter the Four P’s – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. The Four P’s provide a framework for the role that marketing should play in an organization. The decisions your company makes in regards to the Four P’s reflect your company’s marketing strategy. Additionally, the decisions you make in regards to one area have an impact on other areas. For example, luxury products need to advertised (promotion) differently than budget-friendly products. They are priced differently and should have different distribution (place) models as well.
Marketing requires a process.
Marketing requires a sound process that doesn’t stifle creativity or strategic thinking, but instead enhances it. In its most basic form, this process should include research, strategic planning, execution, and measurement. Each organization may have a different process, but the purpose of the process is to generate consistent outcomes.
Why does this matter? Too often advertising agencies and brand marketers forget that a marketing program needs to have each of these components in order to thrive. The greatest product in the world won’t succeed if customers can’t get it or have never heard of it. The greatest advertising in the world doesn’t matter if the product is garbage. The greatest creative in the world is useless if it’s not reaching the right person.
These concepts and frameworks have provided decades worth of proven results. And, as competition for consumer attention continues to increase, they are more important now than ever before. This is why I argue that the best digital marketers are those with an understanding of marketing fundamentals.
It’s no different than sports, where the best athletes are often the ones with sound mechanics and a thorough understanding of the game. There are too many self-proclaimed digital marketing gurus out there who don’t have the slightest understanding of the overall discipline of marketing.
Stop by next week for part two of our series in which we discuss the implications of the digital marketing takeover as well as some of our recommendations for improving digital marketing teams.