On Twitter, GG asked a question that I felt compelled to answer because I have used this on LinkedIn for a while.
I did borrow the phrase from tech, but sounding cool didn’t quite cover it. 🙂
To begin with, why do I use it? First, the people I want to connect with on LinkedIn are from the consumer tech, digital marketing and brand domains. This usage would be familiar to them, and would help frame my experience and expertise. The experience straddles the offline and digital space, and has media, FMCG, e-commerce and fintech brands. The second part is to do with the skill sets that I think qualifies one for that description. This is my attempt to elaborate on the latter. The “frontend” and “backend” of marketing.
Disclaimer: These are my perspectives of things I have worked on. I do this with the understanding that “as our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance”
1. Planning :
Once upon a time, my dream job was that of a planner. It used to be a key role in agencies, but I have seen the tribe reduce in number over the years. Creating a brand strategy and a narrative roadmap keeping in kind the consumer, competition, company, and the environment at large is to me, the most challenging and fun part of the job.
2. Research :
A key input in the above is research. Sometimes, you have the $ to hire agencies, sometimes you have to make do with less. It’s important to learn how to obtain and articulate consumer insights, to understand segmentation and create user and buyer personas, to get smart about positioning and its evolution over a period of time, and to measure it over a period of time.
3. Advertising :
A well-written creative brief is the first step towards great advertising. I have also found this a good way to give myself clarity, and ask the right questions at the storyboard and PPM level. Training one’s instincts to accurately detect what’s “on brand” requires time, patience, and mistakes. Experience gives you thumb rules and learning. And yes, your first print ad, billboard campaign, radio jingle, TVC, are all quite unforgettable. 🙂
4. Media Planning & Buying :
Once upon a time, there was just ATL and BTL. Now, in addition to television, print, radio and OOH, there are gazillion display options online. Reach, Frequency, OTS. A media mix within a budget. It’s important to get an understanding of media costs, credit periods, the operations involved, and having a perspective of what to use when.
5. PR :
Admittedly, trust in media is trending downwards, but on the flip side, it’s now possible to broadcast one’s point of view. Media relations now straddle offline and digital. The ability to create a PR strategy that is in alignment with the larger brand and business strategy, manage an agency, develop spokespersons, handle ORM, know crisis management, and occasionally even write content on behalf of spokespersons, are all skills that can help.
6. Events, promotions, sponsorships :
And experiential marketing at large. Now might not be the best time for events, and the future implications aren’t yet clear, but arguably, we’ll go back to having events in some form in reality or virtual reality. Knowing when to use promotions, sponsorships and tie-ups, and learning how to get the best out of them is an important part of the toolkit.
7. Marketing Collateral :
Offline and online. Or as the jargon goes, omnichannel support. This covers everything from in-store POP material and stall branding to white papers and web design. Processes, templates, vendor management – everything goes into this one. Just once in a while, you might even get to be part of creating a logo from scratch! Though a domain in itself, there is some overlap with Product Marketing here. In addition to larger brand stories, individual products need their own strategic thinking, positioning, messaging and journeys, as well as collateral.
8. Packaging :
The renaissance that I have seen in this area is quite amazing. I think a lot of that is thanks to DTC brands because it combines brand philosophy, design based storytelling and catering to a digital native audience’s aesthetic. To the extent where traditional FMCG/FMCD brands are experimenting because they have started selling online. An interesting domain to (re)learn.
9. Content Strategy & Marketing :
The debate might still be happening on what kind of aristocrat content is, but a good content strategy can do wonders at every stage of the marketing funnel. The ability to craft and execute this content strategy across media formats – text, visuals, video, podcasts etc – is an invaluable asset. As a form of storytelling, it is expanding to other domains too. e.g. gaming – just look at the kind of stuff that happens on Fortnite! Not to mention native advertising, which can be rewarding when done right.
10. Social Media :
Beyond the garden-variety page management and vanity metrics, and into connecting social media metrics to business metrics. Balancing moment marketing and sustainable brand impact, knowing how to create and manage UGC and tie it back to brand strategy, keeping yourself up-to-date on new platforms and new features on existing platforms, and being able to apply that in your brand’s context, there’s really a lot going on here.
11. Influencers and Celeb endorsements :
A must-have in a marketer’s toolkit these days. Understanding the value this provides to your brand, finding the right agency and personality, thinking through all the deliverables, negotiating well, and making sure he/she (“it” is also a future thanks to bot influencers) delivers this value. As forms of entertainment expand, product placement opportunities will also evolve, and become more significant.
12. (Digital) Customer Acquisition :
There was a time when it was simply Google (SEM & display), Facebook, SEO and a few affiliate experiments to see what could scale. That was when I started doing this, a decade ago! It is an ocean now – Amazon ads, app installs, programmatic, messenger ads, visual and voice search, there’s something new popping up all the time. It requires considerable effort to be on top of all this and filter the things relevant to you. To see beyond channels and set up an acquisition strategy that optimises for business growth is a neat trick to learn. And practice.
13. Marketing Automation :
Just as in #9, this has grown leaps and bounds from simple email marketing. And here again, AI is playing an increasing role in setting up, monitoring and measuring what used to be called drip marketing. Capturing and utilising first party data, personalising communication at different points in the customer journey, and on various channels – browser push, notifications, chatbots and so on, understanding micro moments, and being really good with both content and context. Understanding the interplay of message, medium and mechanics.
14. Analytics and dashboards :
The understanding of not just how to capture and store data, but to present it in terms of actionable insights. To know what to look for, why and where. This ranges from simplistic channel specific data (say, ROAS) to acquisition and retention efficiency (DAU, MAU, CAC etc) to attribution models, predictive analytics and business intelligence. Even if you’re a brand marketer, if you have the ability to show the business impact of your activities, say a TVC, on business metrics in general, it’ll hold you in good stead.
15. Loyalty and advocacy :
At some stage of the business, it has to become profitable. LTV (lifetime value) helps you understand revenue from a customer, and knowing how to create and calculate it is important. The LTV/CAC number is a simple way to calculate profitability and marketing efficiency. Understanding the requirements of a good CRM, capturing and analysing CSAT and NPS, creating and executing loyalty, advocacy and referral programs, are all related to marketing
16. Internal branding :
Speaking of advocacy, the biggest potential advocates of a brand are the organisation’s employees. A typical program would have multiple parts, from understanding the purpose of internal branding to defining and creating programs that embed this – hiring, onboarding, training and engaging employees – and being able to connect it to the external brand story. The external facing aspect (broadly speaking) is employer branding.
17. Channel marketing :
My experience in this came from roles in the first half of my career. Getting to know channel partners, understanding their requirements and their relationship with customers, creating programs to increase volumes and revenue, developing collateral, making sure they’re connected to larger brand campaigns, conducting audits and reviews, were all aspects that gave me a deeper understanding of the brand I was working on.
18. GTM :
The rapid iterative cycles caused by changes in customer expectations and how competitors are meeting them would mean that many brands would need their marketers to be able to create and execute GTM strategies faster and better than before. Ideation, collaboration, program management are all part of this. Having a few templates and experience in implementing them (with necessary contextual tweaks) is a big advantage.
19. Stakeholder Management
That brings me to what is more of a general management element – Stakeholder management. While hard skills are definitely important, as you progress in your career, you will more often than not realise that your ability to manage people – up, down and side (i.e.bosses, team members, and peers) – will become a necessity to help you grow. Collaboration, not office politics. What has helped me is observing myself, understanding and changing my own mindset when required, being empathetic, developing the ability to channel energies, and having a long term view. If you can find a good mentor, it will significantly better your chances.
20. Personal Brand
Another general pursuit that is becoming increasingly significant as a differentiator is your Personal Brand. I have to admit that my considered views don’t allow me to be a good practitioner on this, but projecting yourself well does help you grow inside your organisation and outside. Most of the goodwill I have is courtesy two things – my early start on social platforms (Twitter is a classic example), and the references of people I have worked and interacted with. But when “everyone” is broadcasting, “curated authenticity” can be a definite advantage.
This turned out to be way longer than I had envisaged, and even then it’s not an all-encompassing list. It’s largely based on my own experiences, and will thus have an inherent bias. There might be domain-specific skill sets in consumer or B2B businesses that I am not even aware of. But an understanding of the above aspects will go a long way in becoming a full stack marketer. On a related note, a good way to approach one’s career is the “martini glass“.
Almost a decade ago, I remember being asked the quintessential interview question -“where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I had to politely point out that the job I was interviewing for didn’t exist a year ago. And that’s why I love being a marketing professional. Some things are always changing, and some things have been a constant for decades.
Blog originally published here –