Content Marketing Minds: It’s Doomsday for the Dinosaurs



In baseball, the experts talk about a five-point player, one who runs, fields, and throws well, hits for power, and hits for average. Very few possess all five skills.

As you might imagine, when the rare five-point player comes along, every manager wants the superstar to play for his team.

Online marketing teams need five-point players now. 

In an effort to transfer heaps of valuable information to you on the content marketing beat, I devour blog posts, eBooks, and white papers from experts I trust. I’ll draw from several in this article. 

The opening lines of HubSpot’s “How to Avoid Technology Marketing Paralysis,” read:

What the #$ %& happened? How did marketing technology become so freaking complicated? 

Its authors submit:

The new marketing playbook… is vastly more complicated than the traditional playbook—more tools, more processes—so it’s not surprising that marketers feel overwhelmed. 

In “2014 State of Marketing,” ExactTarget (from Salesforce) gives us: 

New devices and channels emerge every day to create a more connected and more complex brand-to-customer landscape. 

Online Marketing Institute partnered with ClickZ and Kelly Services to survey nearly 750 organizations regarding their digital marketing talent needs. Conclusion #1:

There is a pervasive, deeply running digital marketing talent gap – a substantial difference between what employers value and what talent is available to them.

And in its fabulously thoughtful eBook, “Evolution of the Prototype Marketer—The Hybrids are Coming.” PR 20/20’s Paul Roetzer and Tracy Lewis cite their own Demand Generation Skills Gap Survey stating:

75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting revenue in some way.

The thesis of their eBook: 

Hybrid marketers are the key to building an insurmountable competitive advantage and fueling your growth

What is a hybrid marketer? 

Hybrid marketers, according to the PR 20/20 tandem, excel in emerging marketing disciplines such as content, social media, mobile, email marketing and analytics. Let’s take a closer look at each.

Content marketing—The key is to get found when buyers seek information. This, of course, makes brand awareness first and foremost. The latest survey from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicates B2B content marketers also prioritize customer acquisition, lead generation, and customer loyalty atop the list of goals.

PR 20/20 says most content is of the “fast food” variety and those that rise above have the ability to create content that’s strategic, brand-centric, buyer-focused, search optimized, technically sound, creative, and results-driven. You got that covered, right? 

Social media—The digital marketing all-star understands how to navigate social media and integrate the effort to support the organization’s business initiatives. Anyone can tweet, but few can really rock the relationship building landscape that is modern social media.

Mobile—Today’s buying brigade are mobile. Today’s marketers are mostly mobile-challenged.

Email marketing—You can file email marketing under “content,” or not. Mastery of email marketing calls for creating and delivering personalized, relevant and timely communications. Left brain skills are every bit as vital as writing and design. Suffice to say, effective email marketing is a science that demands competency in marketing automation technology. Gulp. 

Data analysis—Marketers can gather mounds of data relatively easy. Uncovering what it means and using it to intelligently take action to improve marketing efforts is the real trick. PR 20/20 reports 71% of CMOs indicate they are underprepared to manage the impact of the new media data explosion. 

There’s more, of course. In addition to the competencies above, other skills I uncovered in my reading include: search optimization, search marketing, PR, digital advertising, video production, programming, tech integration, and my favorite, writing. 

Now let’s have a look at the digital marketing agenda.

ExactTarget collected insights from over 2,500 marketers to present the state of digital marketing. In the summary below, you’ll find:

98% plan to increase or maintain their spend this year. The spending will be concentrated on:

  1. Analytics
  2. Marketing automation
  3. Email marketing
  4. Social media marketing
  5. Content management

 infographic by ExactTarget

 The study reports some interesting facts regarding mobile, especially:

  • In 2013, the number of mobile-connected devices passed the number of people on earth.
  • With the enormous increase in emails and landing pages accessed via mobile, 2014 is the year to commit to mobile-friendliness—which is generally understood to feature responsive design.
  • 35% have a dedicated mobile team.

Clearly, this is not your old man’s marketing landscape. In the century before this one, media changed slowly and slightly. To germinate a dominant marketing team was to focus largely on right brain skills. You aimed to recruit, retain and refine the best creative talent you could find and afford.

Click forward to century 21 and while you’re blinking your eyes, you can almost bet something significant will have changed in digital media. Masters must not only fire from both sides of the brain, they must be relentlessly plugged in. They must be flexible, versatile, and open to everything. Hybrids.

Here’s the deal. Today, most marketers aren’t up to speed. The rare few that matter most to their companies aren’t specialists. They have seriously diverse skill sets and somehow manage to keep pace with the never-ending changes.

OMI calls it a talent gap. 

I say the dinosaurs are doomed. The path to winning market share and achieving positive business outcomes is a digital cyclone. OMI writes:

  • For the agency, it translates into winning more deals and increasing client retention rates.
  • For the global brand, it means major expansion and market share gains that would normally take tens of millions of advertising dollars to even have a shot at achieving. 
  • For the small business, it means going from survival to thriving.
  • And for the individual job seeker, it means obtaining highly paid, rewarding and exciting growth opportunities. 

PR 20/20 presents a hiring checklist where they recommend employers look for the following nine traits:

  • Analytical skills
  • Creative skills
  • Motivation
  • Listening skills
  • Social savvy
  • Strategic skills
  • Technical skills
  • Team orientation
  • Writing skills

This quote from “The Hybrids are Coming” puts the wraps on it all quite nicely:

“Building a next-generation marketing team is no easy feat. However, it’s those professionals and teams that are driven to excel and willing to evolve that will finish first. Remember, when all else is equal, it is talent that cannot be replicated.”

This edition of Content Marketing Minds (#CMMinds) cites the following publications:

“How to Avoid Technology Marketing Paralysis,” from HubSpot

“2014 State of Marketing,” from ExactTarget

“State of Digital Marketing Talent,” from OMI, ClickZ and Kelly

“Evolution of the Prototype Marketer—The Hybrids are Coming,” from PR 20/20

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Content Marketing Minds is a weekly Social Media Today column written by Barry Feldman about content marketing at its best and its worst. Look for the future installments on Thursdays.

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