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Digital Is NOT A Department

07/10/2014

Are you still looking to hire a digital marketing specialist?  If so, put on your Members Only jacket, pick up your Newton, and get back in your Model T Ford and drive home -- because you are sorely out of date.
Digital marketing is not a department; it has officially woven its way into the fabric of all your marketing.  Digital is no longer a matter of planning search and display ads and maintaining a line item on your media mix.  Digital has actually transformed all of your marketing, and it’s only going to become more integrated as time moves on.  Digital creates a path for addressability and measurability in all areas of your marketing mix, even print, outdoor and more.  The unifying factor in most of these cross-channel solutions is mobile, which is why mobile is so difficult to look at in a vacuum, even more so that traditional digital channels.
Digital media now includes extensions of all “traditional” media.  When you buy TV or print, you can have digital extensions packaged together.  Digital has become an extension, if not the driving force, in most all media decisions.  
This evolution has led to the fragmentation of marketing teams into two opposing areas.  The first area is strategy vs. execution.  This has long been a demarcation in most marketing orgs and agencies.  It has been dressed up previously as media planning vs. communications planning, or as account planning vs. media planning.  It has had many names, but it comes down to identifying the people in your org who can think bigger picture vs. the folks whose minds are detail-oriented and fulfilled by flawless execution.  These are rarely the same people because they are more right-brain vs. left-brain thinkers. 
Strategy requires the ability to look outward, examine the competition and identify trends that may affect how you achieve your objectives.  Execution requires being very present, focusing on the details of each partner and how a message will be delivered.  These people are more project managers with expertise in media and creative – and, I have to admit, are sorely under-represented in the marketplace today because they’re experienced in the execution of many campaign formats .
The second area is marketing  vs. technology specialists.  This is a new area and one that is being created out of necessity.  Marketing specialists are the folks with degrees in marketing, who’ve long lived by the standards of reach/frequency, the 4 P’s, and AIDA (awareness, interest desire and action) as their fundamentals. These folks act as problem solvers and psychologists and are extremely necessary in the age of data-driven marketing, where customer knowledge is necessary to understand how to personalize messaging.
Technology specialists are those who routinely log in to complicated systems and understand taxonomy, Boolean statements and the analytical underpinnings of the advertising business today.  These folks are more akin to traders and economists than marketers, but they know how to apply the emerging tools of the trade.  Technologists with a modicum of marketing knowledge are also in high demand, creating an exaggerated market where they live -- cities like San Francisco and New York.
There is most certainly overlap between these two views of the world, and there is obvious overlap between the world of execution people and marketing technologists.  Large marketers are looking to find ways to train their teams in the tools they need, and teach them how to address marketing challenges from a technology perspective -- but at the end of the day, the best strategy is to find a way to let marketers be marketers and make the technology simple for them.  Give them a means of doing what they do best, while enabling the tools at their disposal for success.
This is the next great battleground for marketing, and it's fun to be involved with it!

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