Scott Brinker in his recent blog post “5 new skills for the future of marketing” suggests that marketers need to acquire some additional skills. Megan Heuer from Sirius Decisions suggests something similar in her recent blog post. Do marketing program managers really need to become more analytical? I believe what my colleagues are saying is that the marketing organization needs to acquire additional skills, not simply that the individuals in marketing program management need to morph into something different.
Marketing Automation will usher in the Marketing Operations function
We still want the Marketing Communications folks to have strong right brain creative talent. That mastery of transforming 1000 words into a single image! Knowing just how to distill complex messages down to a crisp sound bite! No, I don’t want to change these people a bit. And it is not that marketing hasn’t had the analytical, data oriented skills, it has simply been in the other side of the house, over in product marketing and product management! I believe what we are saying is that additional analytical skills need to be applied to the demand generation side of the house.
The best way to do this is not to replace creative people with analytical people (shudder), but rather to recognize that a new group is coalescing in marketing – the marketing operations group. The advent of marketing automation systems such as Market2Lead’s most excellent SaaS put tremendous power in the hands of the marketing program manager. But if they are largely creative individuals, someone else may need to formulate the lead scoring, or analyze the lead nurturing tracks, or create the marketing dashboards and reports. Someone else may want to analyze the marketing data quality and devise data hygiene guidelines and standards.
Marketing Gets More Analytical
But this requirement for more analytical thinking on the demand side of the house is not new. B2C firms are very analytical when it comes to market segmentation and demand generation. And the advent of online lead generation inspired many budding marketing folks to start off in SEM analytics 10 years ago. Many firms outsourced the analytical work to agencies (or to IT), but unlike Interactive Agencies, Marketing Automation savvy demand generation agencies are few. Rubicon Marketing is a good example of the latter. As a result many firms will elect to in-source additional analytical marketing skills.
It is time for Marketing Operations
Outsourcing analytical tasks to IT has its pros and cons. Many marketing departments have been frustrated at the loss of control that this outsourcing represents and as a result would rather outsource to agencies. But there is now a critical mass of analytical marketing skills required that many firms recognize can be unitized into an internal group. It is more than a web team. They have responsibilities for marketing analytics, marketing automation, marketing tools, CMS, marketing data quality, and perhaps project management.
So all you right brainers out there don’t have to go buying slide rules just yet. We just need to nudge management into recognizing that there are additional analytical skills required in marketing and maybe it would be ok if the next marketing new hire was a geek.