Marketing: Who’s running your marketing department?

Let me just say it; I’ll be the one: It’s time to rethink how you’re running your marketing department. You know it; and I know it – what you were doing 10 years ago is not working in today’s environment. I mean, come on, what you were doing last year may not even be working.

The truth is, your customer has changed; and the way they consume marketing has simultaneously changed with them. The millennial generation is starting to make purchase decisions that impact your brand. These are consumers that have a mistrust for traditional marketing, rely on word of mouth more than any other generation and, most importantly, are connected to the world every single second of every. single. day.

I should know – I am one.

I wrote a blog post back in 2010 which I believe to be a telling and raw view inside the generation that companies are now marketing to: the millennial or, “the new consumer”. At the time I didn’t realize the insight I had, but four years later as a marketing professional, I find this to be my biggest asset and a big reason for the success of my marketing strategies.

It’s one thing to think like a millennial consumer, but it’s a whole different story to be one and/or innately understand how your company’s new consumer is analyzing your brand. I’ve read blog after blog and sat in meeting after meeting with very intelligent and incredibly experienced marketing executives and brand strategists, but I find there’s always one thing missing: their innate ability to understand how these new customers consume a company’s brand message. I firmly believe this isn’t something that can be learned overnight or, dare I say, learned at all.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that there is something to be learned from traditional marketing methods as well. To be fair these are tactics that have worked for years and years, but in today’s world these methods need to be paired with tools and in new non-traditional channels that speak to the majority of those who are buying into your brand.

So now’s the time to put someone in charge of these new marketing initiatives – who do you pick? How can you be successful?

Is it done through a social agency? I don’t necessarily think so. I’ve learned that this seems to be a go-to in today’s corporate world, but know from experience that it’s a risky undertaking. A company’s brand is a very powerful thing and it needs to be taken very seriously. Last year Home Depot learned that the hard way. When you hire an agency it becomes a job for them among many other clients and, in my opinion, the customer can tell. The “new consumer” wants genuine conversations not auto generated messages from someone who’s trying to get a job done. They want to feel authenticity, but how can an agency understand your brand or (most importantly) your customer when they’re sitting in an office thousands of miles away trying to understand three completely different brands as a part of their account setup. From my experience, agencies just don’t work unless they make your company their priority and let’s be serious – they will for the right price. This isn’t to say that agencies are a no-go, but make sure you have someone in place to manage and monitor every piece of content they create.

Is it done through a recent college grad? Obviously the answer is yes, right?! These are young, hip 20-somethings that tweet every thought, meal and know the social space… the golden ticket! Again, in my opinion, not necessarily. While you’re getting warmer, this person doesn’t automatically graduate with the understanding it takes to market your brand professionally. Honestly, this is can be the downfall of many social agencies let alone companies. Hell, I am even guilty of this. When I was hired straight out of college I knew how consumers wanted to be marked to, but I needed to learn how to actually be the brand. The right person will have a few years experience, but still needs to be in-tune enough to understand the spaces in which they are the consumer and how to turn that into the brand.

Is it done through a current employee? Let’s save some money – there’s got to be someone in the company that has a little free time. They could set up a Facebook and Twitter page and monitor these comments; they know the brand, right? Be cautious – while these are employees that usually have the tenure and do understand the brand – they normally don’t have the experience in the marketing or social space. This could stall or even, in some cases, hurt the brand equity you already have.

I’m hoping this blog will help companies understand the social space and, in turn, how their brands should adapt to the ever changing marketing climate. With that said, understanding is different from acting so I encourage everyone to take the learnings and apply them. We’re in this together!

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.