13 Dec 2021

  • Digital Marketing

Career Inspiration for the New Year: 5 Pieces of Advice from the Experts

Leading marketers from the ADMA Advisory Committee offer some sage advice for 2022 to help you become a better marketer, get that promotion or commit to further learning and supercharge your career in the New Year.

In the midst of what is being labelled the ‘Great Resignation’, there has never been a better time for marketers to upskill, build their list of qualifications or to simply learn from industry experts who can provide guidance when it comes to New Year’s career resolutions.

Here we speak to a number of industry leaders about what marketers need to focus on in 2022 – and the answers might surprise you.

Here are five key themes that will drive the future of marketing in 2022.

1. Data, data and more data in a world of regulation

The recent ADMA Marketing Skills Assessment report showed that gaps exist mostly in the emerging and newer areas of marketing – data science, analytics, CRM, CX, martech and ecommerce – which is perhaps not surprising, but it does indicate a pressing need for marketers to focus on their professional development.

According to David Morgan, 2021 recipient of the CMO50 Marketer's Champion award, the CMOs he speaks to all talk about transformation - but they all talk about it differently. And that’s because when we think about learning and the world of marketing, we generally learn from what we've done in the past and we try to do it better.  

But, according to David, “The future is very, very different. There are so many new areas to explore, like journey mapping, analytics, behavioural economics. We have to find what we need to do next, and how to up-skill ourselves, but experience from the past is not going to help us.”

Melissa Hopkins, Vice President, Marketing at Optus says her business has been on a transformation journey for over two years and data expertise has been the cornerstone of this process. “During this time, we have seen that data driven decisions have had to be at the core of our focus for the skills we are going to need… We must have confidence in our own data. The data we collect and save and how we use it. This is only becoming more apparent with the new regulatory environment that we are facing.

“It’s so important that we as marketing professionals understand who owns the data and how we then display the data to the rest of our organisations. Part of that is having team members who can cut and dice the information and are able to then permeate that information to other parts of the business. They need to have the skills to be able to read the different rooms,” Hopkins concludes.

Stuart Tucker, Chief Customer Officer at hipages Group adds, “Data is critical - no marketer can do their job without the right data. But remember, it's about the insights you generate from the data, not the data itself. Every marketer should ask themselves 'so what?'

We need data more than ever before. And as we face new privacy regulations and a so-called ‘cookieless future’, data – and especially first party data – becomes even more essential for marketers trying to make an impact.

2. Customers have all the power

“CX is now in the hands of the customer, not the brands,” says Paul McCrory, Group Industry Director at Facebook . “This power shift and the plethora of options available to customers has increased the need for brands to remove friction more than ever before.”

Chief Marketing Officer at Australian Business Growth Fund, Trisca Scott-Branagan, adds, “Brands are made and broken because of customer experience. Historically, successful businesses have focused on improving their operational performance. Decisions are made and budgets are divided based on this. But these have been in the void of what the customer experiences.”

“Back-of-house is where historically operational excellence has driven business decisions. Where front-of-house is where the business meets the customer. What was not understood is that back-of-house influences front-of-house experiences. This means the two can't operate in isolation of each other, and decisions about one have a flow-on effect to the other. That's where the power of a brand can come to life. As marketers, we can push the brand agenda, giving permission to ensure the brand essence filtrates the entire organisation’s DNA - from customer service, to product development, to operational excellence.”

Tucker’s take? “It shouldn't be hard, but it is! The basics are consistent across every industry, but very few get it right. Do the right thing by the customer - put yourself in their shoes. Act with integrity and empathy. And again, use data to personalise the experience.”

3. Employee Experience will impact your brand in every way

No longer can a brand say one thing and do another. Trust and transparency are key and customers expect that the brands they engage with are holding themselves to a high standard. This might be in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability practices, or more commonly, the way they treat their own people behind the scenes.

The customer and employee experience are inextricably linked. And as McCrory puts it, “I believe that customer experience is built from the inside out. Your employees are your brand ambassadors and are your first point of differentiation.”

Scott-Branagan agrees that a brand is its people. “That's why an organisation’s brand must come from that organisation’s DNA - because you can't pretend to be something externally that you aren't internally.”

Tourism Australia CMO Susan Coghill, looks at this from yet another perspective, and that is around investing in your people as a key part of the employee experience - which ultimately delivers significant return in the form of superior customer experience.

“It’s been an incredibly tumultuous 18 months for my team and the tourism industry… With borders closed we’ve had to be incredibly proactive and shift focus from the international markets to the domestic… At the same time I’ve been keeping my team motivated and sharpening their skills as well. We’ve invested a lot in training courses and bringing our team along in their development, including a number of courses offered through ADMA such as the Ritson mini MBA, behavioural economics, CX design and design thinking. I wanted to make sure that as we were working hard to support the tourism industry, we also created opportunities for the team to keep learning and set us up for what’s next.”

4. Don’t forget the basics

Alexander Meyer, Chief Marketing Officer at The Iconic warns digital marketers not to become “lazy”, and for businesses to ensure they have a broad range of skills across the full gamut of the marketing discipline. In short, the basics around brand building really matter.

“Most businesses now have a big focus on doing online well, because COVID has accelerated the journey to the digital and online. For us at the Iconic it’s almost the opposite… With COVID we needed to go up in the funnel because all of a sudden the competitive landscape became more intense and harder as everyone is trying to win online.

“It’s not enough to be good in digital - you also need to strategise a lot more and be clear on what makes you distinct in the market.  The online world has been lazy sometimes in harvesting purchase intent so easily through cookies, and haven’t done enough work on the strategic side. The key differentiator in the future cannot be the ability to 'out-target’ anymore, you need to look at the completeness of how you approach marketing.For us, the skill set that has become more relevant in the last 12 months has been around strategy, really good go to market planning and project management.”

Mim Haysom, Executive General Manager, Brand and Marketing, Suncorp used the Mark Ritson Working from Home course in 2020 as one tool to broaden the basic skills of her team, and her experience and advice aligns to that of Meyers. Haysom says, “Many marketing teams are focused on upskilling in the digital space, and as a result sometimes it’s the marketing fundamentals that get overlooked. Our capability program is focused on ensuring we have the right balance so we are not only upskilling in new capability requirements, but ensuring the team has strength in marketing and business foundations.”

Tucker agrees, “Sometimes it’s the basics that we’re missing. For example, the ability to manage third parties or strategic problem-solving capability”.

5. Run your own race

Tucker said if he had his time again he would go back and work in another market early in his career. The outtake being? Don’t be so caught up in getting ahead or achieving something by a certain age. We all have our own timelines, and if you’re not on a 30 under 30 list it doesn’t mean you won’t achieve great things in your career.

McCrory echoes this sentiment, advising marketers, “Don’t worry about the expectations of others. Being yourself is the single most important factor in happiness and ultimately success”.

It’s not surprising that after the year or two many of us have had, that people are increasingly re-considering what they seem to be a priority.  And despite being very senior marketers in their field, each of the experts we spoke to agreed on one thing when it comes to priorities: Life is short - so make the choices you know you’ll be happy with when you look back in 10, 20 or 30 years. There was a common theme around loss, and having to re-assess what was most important to them. The key message being, pursue your career, do great things, push the boundaries… but do it in a way that doesn’t mean neglecting your personal values or what’s most important to you. Whatever that may be.

Tucker summed it up perfectly when he said, “I lost a very close friend to cancer a couple of years ago and it had a major impact on me. It was a realisation that life is too short, so take every opportunity and ensure that your life is balanced and full.”

And some final advice…

“Take every opportunity for breadth of experience. If you're a specialist, then you're unlikely to be a CMO. Take every opportunity to broaden your experience, be curious and treat others how you'd like to be treated,” Tucker said.

“You are the future shapers. Invest in your brain, go shape the future,” Paul McCrory concludes.

If you want to invest in your brain and shape the future of 2022, learn from industry experts and grow your qualifications with an ADMA IQ course.

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