7 challenges that marketers face

Each week, it seems, brings a new bit of technology, a new source of information. Keeping up involves continual mental adjustments and the refreshing of skills.


Marketing today remains a great challenge, in large part because of the consistently changing technology and media landscape. Information sources (conferences, blogs, etc.) consistently address these challenges, yet many issues persist.

It may be time to take a step back and look at how education and information sources are meeting these challenges.

Here are the seven difficulties for today’s communicators, each followed by an idea or three about how to address them. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section.

1. Technology adoption and automation: An ongoing challenge is balancing human intelligence, strategy, and likability with the precision of analysis gleaned from big data.

There’s much professional fear of technology. Some deals with nomenclature and the failure of tech and social media firms to make their products easily accessible. We also need information and education to get more specific, refine roles, and better define which data sets matter, as well as how people can master these evolving tools.

2. Integration: “Marketing in the Round” (co-authored with Gini Dietrich) has been out for a year, and most marketers agree that integration should occur in marketing, but it remains a huge issue. People still think in silos and are not stretching to create better results by teaming with other communicators.

Frankly, this is an issue for the C-cuite. Until CEOs and presidents demand successful integration, it’s going to be hit or miss depending on the level and training of the lead marketer in each organization. The good news is that leading educational institutions are now teaching integration.

3. Rapidly evolving media: Media evolution remains a huge issue. It used to be that you could become comfortable for a short period of time. Even the first wave of major social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter) had staying power.

Today, media evolves quickly, and volatility is part of the game. What worked last year won’t this year. Look no further than the decrease Facebook has suffered in tactical viability for some types of business.

Marketers have to move away from channel-specific strategies and must adopt a truly liquid approach to communication. They must deliver a complete content and engagement effort to serve stakeholders wherever they are and however they like to receive information in that channel. Further, businesses should adopt an attitude of ongoing experimentation.

4. Transition to the Internet: The Internet is accessible everywhere—or close to it. The current responsive-design movement addresses the shift temporarily, but the market will soon discover that although making one-size-fits-all Web pages may be attractive, we need custom environments to differentiate.

There’s nothing wrong with a few mobile-specific pages. As marketing IT budgets increase, developing specific experiences for each conduit will best serve stakeholders and brands alike.

5. Video and visual skills missing: The visual revolution is here, and most small and mid-size businesses are not competing effectively. Some of that lag is a matter of financial resources, but most of it is training and skill sets.

Today’s communicators are writers, pitchers (PR), or networkers. They don’t think visually. The next generation of communicators will have a combined skill set of visual and verbal creativity. We need to get them into the workforce quickly. Seasoned executives would benefit from training as well.

6. Nurturing skills for inbound marketing: A majority of leads expected to come via online content and other forms inbound marketing. To succeed communicators have to understand customer experiences and needs and must build more intelligent conversion paths on their sites, in call centers, and in stores. Through the use of data analysis and intelligent content, nurturing customers should become more customized and targeted toward niches.

Education and experience will provide a better understanding of customer service, email marketing, the role of landing pages, and the creation of value-added content for core community members. Communicators steeped in broadcast or public social media paths will need to expand their knowledge.

7. Stuck in social media/community management: Perhaps this is a function of the social media expert/blogger, but the general conversation online seems to lag the challenges that CMOs face. Single-person or small social media consultancies with fewer than 10 people don’t deal with enterprise-level issues like this. Instead, they are often limited in conversation to their tactical area of expertise.

What do you think about these challenges facing the marketing sector?

A version of this article first appeared on the Vocus blog.

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