The senior marketer’s ongoing headache: keeping pace with all things digital

May 2010

Marketing, arguably, has never been the easiest of professions to prosper in, but then it certainly hasn’t been the hardest either. However, our digital world has unquestionably made it a whole lot more challenging.

Senior marketers working in large businesses and marketing directors working in any size business have something very specific in common with marketing consultants: the business leaders we work for expect us to know pretty much everything there is to know about brands and marketing. Which, for the record, is actually fair enough as far as I’m concerned. The problem is though that if I knew everything today (figuratively speaking of course), I wouldn’t know everything tomorrow. Why? Because someone, somewhere, will have invented a new acronym for a new application which allowed brand owners to project a 3d image in front of consumers not wearing hats but holding smart phones as they passed the millinery store in their local high street.

My answer to a business leader looking for the detail on an all-conquering marketing plan which takes account of every possible channel, media and technology, is increasingly along the lines of: “This is basically what we need to do, but actually you and I don’t need to understand how the latest variation of the Google algorithm works – we’ll leave that to the SEO guy.” (Which, as an aside, is a further complication to trying to keep pace as no two SEO experts – or experts from any other specific digital discipline for that matter – ever seem to agree on a clear formula for success.)

I’ve been trying (well actually I’ve given up now) to get my dear old dad to get a laptop or PC so we could keep in touch via email (he lives over 600 miles from me), have skype calls and he could also do the same with his granddaughter. His central argument is always the same when the issue is raised: “Why would I want to learn how a computer works at my age?” “You don’t dad” I’d always reply “just how to use it.” In fairness to him those are one and the same, but actually there is a serious point here for how we all (‘all’ other than the techies and more junior marketing people working in specific disciplines) approach the ever-developing digital world and the opportunities this creates for business, and it’s this: If you’re a senior marketer, business leader or a consultant like me, forget trying to learn how it all works – it’s not what you’re there to do. Instead, concentrate on the concept and what it can do for your business or client.

That’s my get out of jail card anyway.

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