Skip to content

December 10, 2013

6

How do you become a C-Level Digital Marketer?

by Tom De Baere
C-level digital marketer

RU Ready for C-level?

I was really impressed. On his business card it said “Chief Social Media Officer”. He worked for a rather big, international company.

He told me he was busy with an impressive social media project, and was full of “influencer marketing”, “sentiment analysis” and “advocate” marketing. They were active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Wauuwww.

Just until I asked him how many tweets per week he was getting from customers. Then it became quiet. “Euhh, one or two” he answered. “But we are only starting to be active” he added quietly.

When I checked their Twitter stream just now, their latest Twitter post dated of one month ago. LinkedIn hadn’t been updated the last year, and they had 18 followers on Pinterest.

Everything is difficult in the beginning, you think, and it takes a while to grow a following, right? They had been active for 5 years on Facebook.

And when I check what they publish on online, mainly promotions and news about their own company and products, then it doesn’t surprise me they only have a handful of followers.

Really cool, all these tweets, pins, blogs and stuff… 

Don’t misunderstand me. Social Media is here to stay in the digital and social media connected world we live in. And everyone has to learn, and everything is changing so fast.

But sometimes I have questions the way large companies use digital marketing and social media.

Decision makers absolutely realize that they need to embrace digital and social, but they actually do not know how. And then you get these absurd hirings. In itself it is not a bad thing that social media is brought into the ‘board room’. But I certainly have a problem with people and companies that become active in digital marketing and social media, without knowing what they are doing.

Decision makers catapult someone within a department, or in this case within the management team. Usually these profiles end up in the marketing or communication department, and has the mandate to develop a “social strategy”.

Really cool, all these tweets, pins, blogs and stuff… Unfortunately in this case our CEO has hired the wrong person to really help the business forward.

How do you become a real digital marketer, one who is ready for the management team?

For great hints-n-tips in digital marketing, you can go to Hubspot or MarketingProfs. That’s where you can find tips on content marketing, blogging, email, SEO, mobile, social media, PR, testing, analytics and lead nurturing, but also building your digital marketing strategy can be found on these sites.

And having this knowledge, and improving your skills in these domains, is certainly important. Digital marketers are always eager to enrich themselves with this kind of knowledge.

To me, a real digital marketer is someone who tackles these challenges every day:

  • You need to deserve the attention of your customers through what you give them, and now what you ask them. This is something else than trying to get your customers’ attention. Only when you really understand your customers, you know what to give them.
  • Creativity is good, but measurable results are better. Only when you see measurable results from small, fast ‘agile’ marketing actions, only then you will move to bigger actions that will deliver predictable results.
  • You know that ‘brand experience’ is not only the sole responsibility of marketing. The total brand experience from your customers is built from all possible interactions your customers have with your company, your products, your employees and your partners. You can only built that total brand experience by expanding your domain across the so called ‘silo’s’ that live within your company. These silo’s are are present in the form of departments, business units, and ego’s of people. Unfortunately dealing with these silo’s is often neglected by decision makers. To me the task of any real digital marketers with board room aspirations, is to put this element on the agenda of the management, and develop a change management program to deal with this.
  • Modern digital marketers are not afraid of risks. They explore new domains, fast, test all the time, and expand what works.
  • They know when their company is ready to embrace new concepts such as content marketing, marketing automation, and social tools. Because when the company is not ready, these concepts will only consume a lot of time, money and resources, which eats away from other opportunities to improve the business. These concepts and new technologies can visualize the marketing and sales funnel.
  • They are obsessed in understanding the digital buying behavior of customers, and how their ‘buying cycle’ looks like, and how they can influence this behavior.
  • Social media is their second nature. They deeply understand what this can mean for their company, and also consider it their responsibility to train, evangelize, motivate and bring in knowledge and tools into the company. If you are not active with digital, social and content, it seems to me very difficult to be a real digital marketer.
  • Openness, authenticity, and honesty are keywords for you. You consider it your responsibility to make these words are reality within the hearts and minds of all employees.

The real big gain – Enrich your company culture

The real big gain only comes when you

I realize that’s a lot to deal with. This requires a decent amount of change management, and a bit of a culture change. But it is possible. Many companies are working on exactly this. Because they know this makes the difference in this digital, social and global world.

Do you accept these challenges?

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

P.S. If you like this post, please share!

 

Image : Michael Scott | scottphotographics.com

This blog post first appeared in Dutch on Bloovi.

  • Bin Teo

    Insightful article Tom! If I may add – It’s important not to get swept away by the vanity metrics, and link it back to the language of the C-suite e.g. ROI. I have also witnessed how change management is needed for ‘social’ to truly shine. Perhaps early leadership opportunities for digital marketers who have aspiration to enter the C-suite?

    • HI Bin Teo (not sure what your first name is),
      Indeed, overload in metrics is going to confuse the CEO. In Joe Pulizzi’s latest book ‘EPIC content marketing’, he describes a nice model to filter “up” towards the most relevant metrics. That’s for the digital marketing part. If you combine that with metrics on the marketing funnel and sales conversion you’re good.

      In change management, you should not try to change people. Find the hidden gems inside your organization, show these gems, and guide/help people to copy them.

      And yes, changing organizations is absolutely C-suite material!

  • Nice post. There’s a massive difference between using digital channels to connect with people and using them to simply collect artificial likes, views and retweets.

    • Glad you mention that. People on social media are soooo busy collecting followers, and hope for views or likes as you say. We often tend to forget that having 1 million followers won’t bring in any business at all, if you do not ‘connect’ with them.

      “Connecting” to me does not always mean liking or responding. People often just consume your content and like it without letting you know in the comment field or thought the “like buttons”.

      But connecting should mean they like the insight you are bringing them. If you do that consistently the’ll start to like you as a brand, and will be more willing to trust you.

      Thanks for the comment, Sean.

  • Katleen Ravijts

    Hi Tom, I have read your article and agree with most of it. But what I see is that lots of marketeers are lost with all new technology out there – because they think they need to have it all. When you want to become successful in social media with marketing it indeed needs good strategy beforehand, and then a step by step approach. You do not have to be active on all social media channels from the start or have all the tools in house. Next to that comment I agree listen to customer if for sure a good start but do it for 6 months and not 2 weeks. (as I see sometimes happen)
    As my expertise is more with Big data & Analytics I follow Social media actively so added this blog as one of my sources. And happy to say we are active on the 3 areas you mentioned and we should as being a leader in this area.
    Thanks for this content.

    • Thanks for the comment Katleen.

      I know IBM is a well known case in the industry, and it is great to see how they have implemented the internal ‘sharing’ culture. Marketers today must realize their area of responsibility is expanding way beyond marketing and communication. They have become responsible to guide the organization towards a social business.

      Also, thanks for following this blog. Let me know if there are certain topics you are missing and you want me to cover on this blog. That’s also listening to my ‘customers’ ;-)