The Marketing Strategist:

ITSMA’s Marketing Big Ideas 2011: The Marketing Organization Will Coalesce Around Specialists and Super-marketers

May 5, 2011

  • Commentary
The emergence of social media threatens the traditional functional approach to marketing. To be successful, social media must be practiced across silos, not within them. So rather than creating a functional group that “does” social media, companies are creating more loosely organized social media centers of excellence that overlay the entire organization, with a locus in marketing. These groups provide support, training, and a limited amount of governance, while encouraging participation throughout the organization, not just within marketing (see the ITSMA Case Study Intel: How to Build Social Media Engagement Among Employees ). The rise of thought leadership marketing is necessitating a similar approach because just like social media, thought leadership cannot be owned exclusively by marketing. It requires participation and support from the business. The growing importance of analytics is also creating demand for a skill not traditionally practiced by most marketers. All of these centers of excellence require specialists, and many are coming from outside the traditional marketing sphere, such as journalism and data analytics. Of course, with the rise of specialists comes a demand for marketers who can take the components created by the centers of excellence and orchestrate multichannel marketing programs that relate to the offering portfolio and the business strategy. These super-marketers are consummate generalists who have just enough background in all the marketing specialties to have credibility and good judgment, while having the leadership and relationship skills to pitch and manage these programs both internally and externally. We’re seeing some of these super-marketers emerge in companies that are practicing account-based marketing (ABM). From their positions within collaborative account planning teams with salespeople, these marketers need to do just about everything, from meeting with senior customer executives to tweaking PowerPoint slides for subject matter experts. They are helping manage the entire customer relationship. We think these people are living blueprints for future marketing leaders. Some of the key characteristics of these marketers from our ABM council research include:
  • People skills. ABM marketers learn to go toe-to-toe with sales and with the senior executives (inside the organization and at customer companies) while maintaining good relationships with the supporting groups and outside agencies who keep ABM programs running. They gain valuable experience speaking in front of internal groups and partners, as well as clients, and have good presentation skills.
  • External focus. ABM marketers develop as much passion for serving the client as they do for practicing marketing.
  • Business understanding. ABM marketers understand not just the customers’ businesses but their own as well. They are able to engage customers in spontaneous discussions and offer insights and suggestions from both sides of the table.
  • Tactics and strategies. The practice of ABM has a healthy mix of the challenging and the mundane. For example, ABM marketers have the breadth of experience to do high-level account planning but also have the patience and skills to proofread a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Knowledge of business development. By working as part of a team with sales, ABM marketers gain an understanding of and empathy for the challenges that their business-development colleagues face.

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