As I am typing this article, publishers are hard at work rewriting college textbooks. Pages of pie charts that once conveyed the effectiveness of billboards, TV, and Yellow Pages (remember those?) are now being replaced with graphs of how brands spread awareness through more sophisticated targeting, outreach, and engagement through a variety of digital channels that are trackable, traceable, and attributable.
The Marketing Landscape Has Evolved Big Time
I admit, I haven’t sat in a marketing class in over a decade, but I am willing to bet that if I poked my head into one today, the curriculum would look a lot different than how I remembered it. Not long ago marketing departments would meet on how to blast their name out to as many consumers as possible with little regard to knowing who their customers really are. This old school, one-way communication lacked segmentation and missed the mark more often than hitting it (and at a very expensive cost). Sam Hill, co-author of Radical Marketing says:
“Fundamental organizational change will be needed to overcome 60 years of brandocracy. Three key stubbornly-held characteristics feed this inertia: a belief in and a reliance on the mass market; an emphasis on marketing quantity, not quality; and a decision-making process based on intuition and experience, not facts and analysis. The reason they have survived is that it has been difficult to do any better.”
Marketers nowadays are becoming better at knowing who their customers really are and engaging with them because they know that if they don’t, they will not survive. Those who can cut through all the noise and hone in on what resonates with their customers will set themselves apart from the crowd.
HR, Listen Up!
If you play a role in the hiring of employees or contractors for your company, you will want to listen closely. While traditional marketing roles (and their outdated job descriptions) still exist, those roles have evolved and are expected to do more in today’s digital marketplace. For example, a graphic designer working on next month’s circular is comfortable using Illustrator but is now expected to have the skill set to take some of the layers and slice it into HTML. I won’t go into detail on every type of digital marketing role there is (and there is a lot), but instead I will focus on five key content marketing roles that are “must haves” for marketing departments that want to thrive in today’s competitive climate.
Depending on the size of the organization, one person may take on more than one role. But for larger organizations, I recommend hiring a dedicated employee who can fully own each role and deliver.
Director of Content
The Director of Content manages the content marketing team and is fully responsible for the type of content that is generated, distributed, shared, and executed. This role is sometimes called the Content Ambassador, develops the overall content strategy for the organization, and ensures it’s effectively communicated across the enterprise. This person is held accountable for ensuring stories and content align with the brand, remain consistent, and relate to the target audience. They’ll have a marketing budget and will report to the VP of Marketing, informing their boss how the content impacts the bottom line such as a lift in sales volume, reduction in costs, stronger brand affinity, and so on.
Digital Marketing Manager (Content)
The Digital Marketing Manager means a lot of different things depending on who you talk to, and this person typically wears a lot of hats. In small- to mid-sized organizations, they’re responsible for at least one or all of the following: content marketing, SEO, PPC, social media, affiliate marketing, and sometimes even email. Because of the number of hats a DMM wears, I intentionally added “(Content)” to the title of this role in particular to emphasize its importance. The DMMC will have a full working knowledge of all the channels listed above and knows how to maximize each channel to its fullest potential. When it comes to selecting and pushing out the content, the DMMC determines the what, how, where, and when:
- What pieces of content do we create or curate?
- How will it be created?
- Where are the best spots to promote and distribute?
- When is the best time to distribute the content to ensure maximum visibility?
Soft skills for this role include solid communication, time management skills, and the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once.
The Content Manager (not to be confused with Digital Marketing Manager (Content)) is in charge of creating the content assets, which may be done in-house or outsourced (or a mix of both). CMs require keen research skills to ensure the content they’re creating has their target audience and personas in mind and also must ensure they set the proper voice that aligns with the brand. One day they might be brainstorming topics for the next month’s editorial calendar while another day they are writing articles themselves or working with an agency of copywriters. Beyond articles, the Content Manager may find themselves researching and compiling data points to build a compelling infographic or case study. They will work closely with the Digital Marketing Manager to figure out where to share or distribute their fresh content. Key skills for this role include copywriting, detail and deadline-oriented, creative (Photoshop skills come in handy, too) combined with a knack for researching online.
The Relationship Manager is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships of industry influencers. You’ll find this person spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn to hob knob with the “who’s who” in their industry. They’ll make time at conferences to speak, network, and participate in podcasts and webinars as they absorb what’s trending in their industry. The RM also takes time to work closely with team members to take those learnings and put them in practice. This role is a good fit for someone with a media relations or PR background who has a passion for networking, studying marketing trends, and sharing their knowledge with fellow team members.
Digital Marketing Analyst
Today’s Marketing Analyst role looks a bit different than it did just a decade ago. Sure, they’ll have their fair share of spreadsheets, but their responsibilities go above and beyond Excel. This person will be the Director of Content’s right hand man (or woman) and must be very intimate with analytic tools and other third party reporting tools while cobbling reports from numerous sources with swift and grace. DMAs nowadays are working with larger and larger data sets, so they have a responsibility to digest the data and find what is most relevant to tell the story. They must have a working knowledge of all digital marketing channels to understand where visitors are coming from and know which source or medium gets credit for the sale (attribution). This role is comfortable crafting database queries, graphs, and reports and will be confident in their data, so when it’s time to report their findings, the Director of Content can make informed decisions.
This is the year for Marketing VPs to reassess their departments’ roles and responsibilities to make sure everyone involved knows what is expected in their role (even if it didn’t match the original job description) and create new content marketing positions where necessary.
What other marketing roles have you seen evolve in the past few years? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments or on Twitter @BayLeafDigital!