By Guest Contributor Abigail Dixon
Author of The Whole Marketer, Abigail Dixon, explains what it truly means to be a Whole Marketer and how it can help you have a fulfilled and successful career.
I started my marketing career in 2000 and over the past two decades, initially as a client-side marketer and now as a marketing and capability consultant, I have experienced, trained and observed many changes in marketing competencies.
Previously it was a support function focused on providing marketing communications to support products and services, whereas today marketing’s role is to lead the commercial agenda. It sets the long-term vision and commercial aspirations of the organisation. It develops and lead the long-term strategy and brings to market products and services that are based on true actionable insight, all while being financially accountable and responsibly for the organisation’s success.
This has meant that marketers’ technical competencies have broadened immensely. So, in this ever-changing, demanding but ultimately vastly rewarding profession – what are the key technical skills a Whole Marketer needs in their arsenal?
Each of these skills is explored in detail in The Whole Marketer, which brings these to life through practical insight, exploration of process, and personal stories from leading marketers.
And if you’re asking yourself, what is a Whole Marketer – do check out my first blog which explores this holistic approach, which goes beyond the technical skills of the marketer to encompass the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ we do what we do.
STRATEGIC DIRECTION AND COMMERCIAL VISION
A Whole Marketer is able to, (and relishes the fact that they can) set the long-term commercial strategic direction of their brand. They define the growth aspirations and ensure the organisation’s wider vision and commercial goals are met, if not lead and help to define them.
When you create a long-term strategic plan, you look at the direction your brand or business will take over the next three to five years of its development. You define the desired future position (vision, goals and objectives) and the strategic choices you will make to deliver those goals, and then look to define how you will bring the plan to life across the marketing mix. In doing so you choose appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) and measures of the return on investment (ROI).
I need to acknowledge that being strategic is easier said than done. I often find organisations are claiming to be strategic but are only looking to the next year’s annual plan and are not making strategic choices. They are jumping straight to tactics, using only communications and product launches to set themselves apart from their competition.
Being strategic is not choice, it’s an essential part being a Whole Marketer. In Chapter 3 of The Whole Marketer we delve deep into strategy; with exercises to evaluate your own strategic skill set. We explore actionable processes and share insight from some of the world’s top marketers on their strategic approaches.
TRUE CUSTOMER INSIGHT
Insight is not only important – it is essential. It sits across everything we do as marketers. It is a vital skill to develop and leverage insight to identify and satisfy customer needs and build insight-based propositions. Looking at not what our consumers or customers are doing but why they are doing it. We need to go beyond their age, demographics and geography and understand their attitudes, values and psychological drivers.
Insight allows decision-making to be based on facts and not assumptions. You can move from what I call a ‘straw poll of one’ to evidence supported by a robust sample from your current or target audience.
If we don’t listen, seek or connect with deep-rooted emotional understanding of our customers, we are not marketing.
We are unable to be customer oriented and we cannot fulfil the core definition of marketing – to anticipate or identify the wants and needs of our customers. Understanding our customer’s wants, needs, values, attitudes and beliefs is the foundation of every great strategy, service or product proposition developed, communication platform and activation plan brought to life.
In chapter 7 of The Whole Marketer we explore how to develop and leverage insight in detail, from psychological perspectives, to providing practical advice and tools of how-to analyse data to develop true actionable insight and utilise insights across the whole organisation.
LEVERAGING THE LATEST MARKETING MIX
As Whole Marketers we use the full and latest marketing mix to bring plans to life and deliver the desired customer experience.
The full marketing mix comprises everything us marketers have in our armoury to bring our plans to life. It is commonly considered to be made up of the 7 Ps: product, place, price, promotion, people, process and physical evidence. We should really concern ourselves with all seven, regardless of whether we are offering a product or service, as we now live in an experience economy.
Since the 7 Ps were developed, many more activation platforms have become available. The digital age has created much new technology, in which we are immersed on a day-to-day basis, but for me these new technologies still sit within the 7 Ps.
The key focus here is the customer’s own personal journey. The way a customer progresses through platforms and seeks or uses information is no longer linear and now combines both online and offline modes. In chapter 4 we take a journey through the marketing mix and the skills needed to navigate today’s diverse and ever-changing channels and develop a true omni channel approach
BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR FINANCIAL RETURN
Commercial acumen is an essential competency that marketers today need to possess, to ensure we can shift from being a support function to leading the commercial agenda.
In essence this means being financially literate; being able to read and interpret financial statements, and being able to advise and recommend changes that will positively change the financial shape and profit of the business. It entails understanding how your organisation makes and spends money to make a profit and what levers to pull in your P&L. This is broader than just managing your marketing investment.
This focus on the ‘numbers’ can be daunting to some, but it is essential if we want to demonstrate the value of our profession. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered – chapter 6 of The Whole Marketer will see you take the reins of your commercial skills to become an essential leader in your organisation.
MASTERING THE TECHNICAL SKILLS ESSENTIAL TO BECOMING A WHOLE MARKETER
The Whole Marketer is one who understands that, yes – they need to invest time and energy into core technical skills and latest thinking to be at the forefront of the industry. However they also know that this is only part of what it takes to be a successful marketer. The rest is the soft skills, behaviour and ability to lead all coupled with personal understanding, tools, support and mindset to learn and grow.
The Whole Marketer approach supports passionate marketers to take the reins and own their path. To live their lives whole, fulfilled, and passionate, as marketers but also as an individual, with ambitions beyond the KPIs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ABIGAIL DIXON is an award-winning chartered marketer, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), an accredited consultant, a course director and trainer, and an accredited International Coaching Federation coach.
As marketing roles continue to evolve, expand and embrace the complexities of the modern world of business, marketers are under increasing pressure to perform as individuals and teams. The Whole Marketer argues that now is the time to take stock of technical skills required, examine the latest thinking, identify capability gaps and discover how to be fulfilled in a professional context and as a human.
Abigail Dixon looks at the functions of a marketing team through a lens of personal development. Her rich experience comes from leading marketing teams and training hundreds of marketers at varied stages of their career to achieve formal qualifications.