We’re at a very interesting crossroads in marketing—there are many Millennials (hereinafter referred to as red shirts. Just kidding, we’ll call them Ensigns) coming into the profession but there are still plenty of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers (hereinafter referred to as Admirals) who are still working. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough finger pointing about the contrasting styles of each generation. Endlessly debating about our differences gets us nowhere, and considering the pace at which we all must move today, there’s simply no time to waste. Instead, I’d rather explore the anomaly in the space-time continuum that occurs when we fuse the best marketing tools of the youngest working generation with those of the oldest. By melding all of our most efficient tools together and letting go of practices that don’t work, we can achieve a perfect age-blind blend, bringing forth a super-generation of successful marketers. So let’s explore this strange new world together, shall we?
Plan like an Admiral
If my 25-plus years in marketing (in case you were wondering which camp I fall into) has taught me one thing, it’s that Admirals know how to plan go-to-market strategies. In fact, it’s one of their strongest characteristics. Planning and goal-setting creates a sense of purpose and urgency that otherwise just going with your gut never will. Of course, an important part of planning is having a firm understanding of the metrics that are available to you, whether those come from Google Adwords, website traffic, number of leads, or conversion. Without having those metrics planning is fruitless, and without understanding those metrics, you’re shouting into the wind.Marketing Mind Meld: Fuse the best tools of Boomers with Millennials and win a galaxy of customers. #Unify Click To Tweet
Step up to the tech
As adept at planning as Admirals are, they’re equally ineffective when it comes to understanding and embracing today’s social media platforms and technology. In fact, I often run into marketing professionals of my generation who say, “I don’t even have a Twitter account. I don’t need that.” Free social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram are the exact tools that enable all marketers to maximize their planned promotions, increase lead channels, and reach bigger audiences. To discount them as unnecessary is irresponsible marketing.
And when it comes to technology, there’s plenty more to choose from in the areas of marketing automation, artificial intelligence, predictive programs, targeting, segmentation, and personalization. No matter your age, if you’re not leveraging technology in your marketing plan, you’re leaving leads behind.
Move quickly like an Ensign
Conversely, Ensigns are far more adept at figuring out how to incorporate new technologies into their marketing channels and programs. Because of their social media skills and willingness to use any new tools, they learn quickly and have more of a sense of what it takes to make something go viral. They adopt the tool, try to figure out how to make it work, and apply their creativity in real time to make the most out of that tool. Sure, plenty of programs go viral just by the luck of the draw and there’s not much you can do to control it. But building marketing programs with both agility and virility in mind gives you a much better chance at executing a campaign that performs far beyond expectations.
Go for the goal
For Ensigns, having the ability to pivot and do things on the fly is great, as long as there is some clear direction and an end goal. For example, you can’t be so focused on a single YouTube video (or even YouTube as singular vehicle for said video), that you hope is going to go viral that you’re not thinking about the other components of your campaign, the rest of your organization, and where it’s going to take the company as a whole. It’s crucial to go with your gut but still have a very clear understanding of the big picture, what the company is looking for, the messaging that resonates with the customer, and a unifying vision and mission as an organization. Having a clear understanding of the big picture and the direction of the company three, five, or even 10 years out is imperative because your plan needs to get you there.
And speaking of plans, it’s great that metrics are becoming more important for Ensigns. There’s no need to get locked up in the numbers and cause paralysis by analysis, but often what’s missing with the younger set is a real understanding of marketing measurements. Ensigns would unleash the full power of their technology skills when instead of creating a list of KPIs and reports for the sake of it, they take the time to really grasp the metrics and use the data to build better programs.
The best of both worlds
Back in the day (crap, did I just say that?!), we used agency-produced print ads that would take about six months to develop and campaigns would last for a year. Nowadays, we develop digital ads in-house and we tweak them ourselves as needed. For example, we can change the language and message to suit different audiences or switch out a graphic if the ad isn’t performing well.
So because of today’s tools, we have flexibility to make those changes quickly and to A/B test the heck out of everything. Print just didn’t move fast enough, but the planning methodologies from traditional print branding brings important consistency to digital marketing, enabling the audience to identify and follow the brand. The same works in the reverse—today you can go out with digital ads for a month and use those learnings to inform a higher budget, longer-term branding, more successful campaign for the year.
Another one of the big differences between then and now is how content is disseminated. In the days of yore (again? really?), marketers would try to have publications pick up their content and of course that still happens—with all the online content that’s out there now, it’s actually much easier to get content distributed. Not surprisingly, as a result the media’s response to that has been the increased prevalence of pay-to-play content distribution. So more than ever there’s a real need to have a lot of great thought-leadership content and to incorporate content into all of your different programs and campaigns. If not only for SEO value, marketers need to get the content out there, disseminate it as much as possible, and then pick up on the paid opportunities where it makes the most sense to up the game for the brand.
Dance with the data
Artificial intelligence or predictive programs, to a marketing person, means having enough data to understand what your audience’s next step is going to be, and therefore being able to present them with an easy way to complete that next step. Fortunately, today it’s easier to find and use that predictive data than ever before, so why not take advantage of it? All the data you’ve collected on sales for years can be put to good use by predicting customer behavior.
A match made in cyberspace
It’s important to think about your e-mail campaigns in conjunction with your social media campaigns, and, come to think of it, with all of your campaigns and programs. What are those different channels and how do they all fit together? You need them all, but it’s just a matter of how they come into play and how you set-up your campaigns for success. The key is creating a consistent message and look across all of those channels. These days it’s rare to accomplish what you need to without a combination of e-mail campaigns and social media, especially if you’re a B2B company.
How to maximize leads
These days I find it interesting to see where the spending mix for marketing ends up, because now marketing touches so many areas, it’s hard to say exactly which marketing program should be credited.
Long story short: One meld just won’t do it. Back when I was a young whippersnapper (yes, I just said that), all leads came from print advertising or maybe a billboard (please don’t ask about the Yellow Pages), but now it’s very different. Website clicks are a result of the organic marketing and SEM that’s been done for the brand and awareness, so it’s really important to look at all of the different channels that you have, what all of that means to your website leads, and whether you’ve fully optimized all of your marketing with keywords for search. It takes many touches to convert a customer, so make sure you’re looking at the entire sales pipeline when assigning leads.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. Many companies label lead differently, for example, is a website lead an inbound lead or is it really a marketing lead. All of that goes toward creating that inbound traffic that you absolutely need. And so this combination of all mediums brings brand awareness to the market in a different way. A lead comes in and you might not ever know exactly what it was that led them to the company. But the likelihood that someone miraculously typed in w-e-b-g-i-l-i-t-y in the hopes it shows you a solution for automating and syncing your retail channels and accounting is pretty slim.
Get to know your SEO. Regardless of where customers are coming from, you need to have a plan in place for your SEO and SEM, and it’s absolutely critical because all of that traffic going to flow back through your website. Because this creates a lot of noise, you have to figure out a balance between having a clear message that people see and understand and just having too much of information out there. You need both.
When marketing has melded
You have a plan, you have the goals, you’ve strategized to get to those goals, you leverage metrics, and then you use all of these different channels to meet your ultimate objective. Ideally you’re incorporating everything based on what your brand needs—videos on Snapchat, longer posts on Facebook, Facebook live events, tweets, Google Adwords, print advertising, digital advertising, contributed content, press releases, the whole nine yards—to meet your end goals. But this requires you to think like both an Admiral and an Ensign. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a team that is made up of all generations. The best mix of Ensign and Admiral marketing will require everyone to have an open mind and a unbiased understanding of why all these tools and practices are important in the world we live in today. Follow this advice, and your company will reach Warp 10 in no time. Check out our Mind Meld infographic. #NowBeamMeUp