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by mark sebastian

The discussion about marketers and their evolving role in today’s hyper-complex marketspace seems to be very fashionable these days. Korn Ferry, a leading executive recruitment firm just published their 2014 Marking Pulse Survey. Not surprisingly, their research shows that marketing executives are under increased pressure to prove that their work directly impacts bottom-line results.

Really? Of course marketing has to deliver results. This is a given and the reason for marketing’s challenges over the years. We know we’re accountable, but we still have difficulty connecting the dots. According to the same survey, “57% of CMOs cite the inability to directly connect marketing efforts to tangible business outcomes as the top factor behind low CMO tenure.” And 27% of marketing executives say this inability to connect to results is keeping them up at night. Counting sales doesn’t work as well as counting sheep, I guess.

Marketers are focused on driving engagement and delivering experiences across a range of channels – the top 5 are Facebook, online advertising, Twitter, events and customer service. While engagement with customers is very important and creating meaningful experiences is absolutely necessary, marketers shouldn’t lose focus on what really matters – adding value to the business by driving profitable sales.

This is my opinion. One shared by the AMA. Their most recent definition (June 2013) states “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” Let’s reiterate. Creating, communicating, and delivering offerings (products and services) that have value (fulfill a relevant need) to their stakeholders. Marketing needs to define the value proposition that affects the entire business. It is no longer about just advertising and messaging. The role is to help the business fulfill its stakeholder’s needs in a distinct and differentiated manner. By influencing the business at a strategic level, marketers will affect the outcome – this will help them increase their tenure.

To get there, marketers have to break down the silos. They must look at the business holistically and take responsibility for its economic results. They must cajole/collaborate/influence/lead their peers to become customer-centric and outcome-focused. To accomplish this, marketers today need much broader skill sets than have been traditionally required. They need to become Decathlete Marketers®.

I have been writing and speaking about this new breed of marketer with ten different skills that they need to survive and succeed in today’s business ecosystem. These Decathlete Marketers®, need to be capable and competent in data, digital, mobile, social, experience, engagement, analytics, strategy, equity, and creativity. The ‘jack-of-all-trades’ is a badge that is becoming increasingly valuable as we deal with huge change and evolution.

One or two sport athletes will continue to be loved, but sustainable success tomorrow will be for Decathletes.

 

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