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April 17, 2013


What it takes to become a Digital Marketer

by Tom De Baere
digital marketer

What does it take to become a digital marketer?
(image :

This is my story of what it took to become a digital marketer… 

My story is not unique

My story is not unique. Hey, I’m sure if you Google a bit, you’ll find other people like me. Truckloads full of them.

But what I want to share with you is what it took for me personally to get to a level where I felt that I knew enough to start with digital, social and content marketing.

And then actually start doing that across the organization. And getting results.

A massive request for change

When I became convinced that digital, social and content was the way to go, the first step was to convince my management. Change was needed. Lots of change.

And that’s what we’ve gone through the last 2 years. And when looking back, the change that I was asking was massive:

  • Slashing the advertising budget with more than 50%
  • Publishing presentations and documents we would normally hide for our competitors.
  • Massively invest into digital marketing tools like new website, blogs, video, automation.
  • Expecting the complete organization to be involved with marketing activities.
  • Getting everybody to understand social media and actually start using it because they understand its value

The first presentation to the whole organization

1 year ago, the only thing I had was a vision. But at a certain moment I felt it was time go public. Enough preparing. Enough internal evangelization.

I made a number of presentations, but in this presentation, done to the whole company, I explained why we needed change:

  • B2B advertising didn’t work anymore: buyers have become blind for it
  • There’s an explosion in the number of content and channels out there. How will you break through to your buyers?
  • Buyers are influenced by their peers and by their on- and off-line networks. How do you influence them?

The whole company had to change and help:

The essential elements in becoming a Digital Marketer

digital marketer

My mindmap, just to keep everything clear and focused

To come to the point where I went public, I’ve read lots of books. And then lots of blog posts. And then I’ve read some more books. It took me 2 years. From my first thoughts, to where I am now.

But at a certain moment it’s time to go. And just do it.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. And I think it’s working. I managed to convince lots of people we needed this change. Hey, we are changing like hell. Where changing our content, our tools, our processes, and the way we think about marketing.

To me, these are the essential elements that make the difference in becoming a digital marketer:

    • Reading books of thought leaders and lots of blogs
    • Constantly making notes of idea’s that turn theory into practice (in mindmaps and Evernote)
    • Taking the time to reflect what can work, and what will not work in your type of organization.
    • Starting with the end in mind, by seeing the complete picture
    • Taking the time to evangelize the ideas before you start
    • Getting your management on board and make them set the example
    • Develop a change management program that includes evangelization, training, communication and process development
    • Including the change to digital marketing and social marketing into the company strategy

And the most important element of them all:

And the key to all of this, is the fact that I ‘lived it myself’ which makes it all much more credible (I guess).

Enabling change throughout the organization

All of this might sound daunting. But if you have a plan, it becomes easier. This is my plan:

  • A plan to educate the organization on content, social and digital
  • A plan to set-up a group of key people that are part of different departments within your organization willing to listen and answer through content
  • A plan to set-up an editorial planning and support team at marketing
  • A social media policy and engagement plan

The First changes and the First results

We started implementing some quick wins, and after only 6 months these where the results:

  • Taking on video: 10.1600 minutes  viewed on Youtube
  • Publishing our presentations on Slideshare: 22.600 views
  • LinkedIn followers grew with 25% thanks to posting quality content.
  • Website visitors grew 300% on the pages where we applied our learnings
  • Contacts in our database grew with 19%
  • Some people starting creating content without me asking for it
  • We are thinking in terms of themes, topics and formats rather than in terms of content formats

Today we are also rebuilding our website from scratch. We are implementing marketing automation. And we are building an organization capable of building epic content. Because this is what it takes.

I don’t know yet what this means to our business in terms of revenue.  That’s definitely the next step we’ll be taking. And there’s still much more to do. But it feels right. It’s logical. I cannot imagine that we would do marketing different anymore. The whole marketing department feels it. This is the way to go. I have no doubt.


What about you? WHAT ARE YOUR EXPERIENCES? What did I forget ?


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere