By Aynsley Keller
Marketing seems to get reinvented and redefined more than any other business focus. I know you’re thinking “spoken like a true marketer”. Just hear me out. My experience is minimal in comparison to those veterans of marketing who seem to have all the answers and remember the days before the internet and back when a direct mail campaign could get you exponential ROI. I have, however, been around long enough to witness not one shift, but many shifts in messaging trends and email do’s and don’ts’ and search engine ‘optimization’ or whatever the new term they call it is.
The wonderful challenge of it all
While my colleagues in other departments spend some of their time looking at software and solutions that could help automate accounting or help with internal collaboration and the like, the marketing department must be aware all the time of the latest trends, solutions to improve brand awareness, product messaging and, of course, perfectly growing pipeline for the sales team. At the same time, we are executing a campaign and brainstorming ways to market and advertise better, we must also be on the phone with vendors and experts learning the newest email technique or understanding the latest debate on blog word count or Twitter analytics. I just recently spent a school year as a student of The Genius Series, and those topics only covered a tenth of what we learned.
My first and most important lesson
When a professor shares something with you and over 10+ years it’s validated by every professional mentor you’ve had, it’s worth taking to heart. I was taught almost as instantly as I picked marketing and communications for my professional future, that everything in marketing starts with the story. My journey as a marketer didn’t start by learning how to tell a story from the past, instead, it started by learning what story my company wanted to tell in 5 years, 10 years, even in 20 years. It helps to work for a company that has vision and can dream that far out in the future. That’s the total package for a marketer, strong company values and a great vision for the future.
What it really looks like
With all the ups and downs that come with changing customer demand, technology moving at the speed of light, regulations that are becoming stricter and attention spans that are only getting shorter, my experience so far has taught me that the best marketers don’t thrive on creative brainstorming alone. If you would’ve asked me in college what I thought this gig was going to look like, I would have rambled off a lot of excitement around brainstorming all day long in coffee shops and backstroking in a deep pool of wonderful ideas on any given day. But, as most marketing veterans have shared with me over the years, my journey defines itself in the process of paring those ideas down and then applying the latest techniques with proven strategies that get the win. This must be done while maintaining strong relationships in the market, this being especially true in the Microsoft Dynamics community (you know what I mean, people have new business cards on the regular in this channel).
Going the distance
Last year, SK Global Software went through a re-branding, made a significant play in to the European market, grew its staff and cemented new strategic relationships, all while welcoming a new CEO and adding to our product stack. There were so many decisions to be made and so many influencers involved. SO MANY MEETINGS. This is what I was waiting for, a defining moment that allowed me to roll up my sleeves and get in the muck of hard choices, crazy deadlines and budget restrictions. I was watching the story unfold and best of all I was a part of writing it. I had the chance to look out in to the future and help decide where we wanted to be, who we wanted to be there with and what impact we would have on the road to getting there. We asked ourselves again and again, what would those decisions mean to the team and to our customers and partners. We defined our story and are executing marketing in a way that helps us make that story happen.
I’ve designed campaigns that bombed. I’ve pitched ideas that made no sense. I’ve chosen vendors that didn’t work out. I’ve spent way too many hours trying to find an animator for a dog cartoon that we didn’t even end up using. Just as my teachers and mentors have taught me that I must know my company’s future story to invent impactful strategies and campaigns, I must also apply that advice to my role as a marketer. I must look into the future and determine what my story should be in 5 years, 10 years, even 20 years. Will I care about the website we scrapped days before going live, or the dog animation that went awry? I’m hoping those will simply be funny stories. One day I hope some young marketer calls me a veteran for talking about Twitter or using the word ‘blog’.