Marketing Behaviors and Skills to Pay the Bills in 2019

Tis the season for reflection. As we hurtle toward another new year, a friend (and fellow marketer) recently asked me some questions that got me thinking.

  • What are the behaviors you think are most important for modern marketers to embody?
  • What technical capabilities do you believe are going to prove invaluable for marketers in the (near) future?

These are ordinarily the sorts of questions people might ask in a round-up post, but this request was personal. My friend is trying to suss out how best to serve his audience in the coming year, and wanted my take on where to focus. In between Amazon spending sprees and holiday outings, I engaged in some contemplation and came up with my answers.

The behaviors that are most important for modern marketers to embody

Proactively laying the groundwork to measure the effectiveness of any marketing campaign or tactic.

Few marketers do this, but the one thing you must be able to do is prove what worked, what didn’t, and (ideally) why. The only way to do this is by thoughtfully choosing your KPIs and metrics based on the measurable business goal you’re trying to achieve through marketing. Then set up a dashboard to measure those.

Efficient project management.

Not just management, actually. Also choosing the right projects in the first place, the ones that will have the biggest impact on things that matter. Not weeny ones that take loads of work but don’t accomplish much. That’s first. Once you have the right project list, manage it — whether we’re talking agile project management / SCRUM or some other approach, modern marketers use online processes and tools for effective collaboration.

Looking for opportunities to tell stories rather than talk about features and benefits.

This is table stakes now — no one will ever watch your video about the cool features your SaaS has that the competing SaaS doesn’t. They will, however, check out the success story of a similarly situated company that completely turned things around in six months using your awesome set of tools. Same goes for recruiting — people do want to know about time off, health plans, etc., but the first thing they’re trying to do is see themselves at your organization. Help them — let them see other people like them, with hopes and dreams (professional and personal) thriving at your company. So, develop a keen nose for a story!

Take calculated risks.

I’m not saying to chase every new platform, tool, or channel, but marketers need to embrace the kinetic rate of change in our space. Maybe earmark a small amount of money to try new things that have an uncertain return, with the proviso that, if it performs up to a certain level, you’ll double down. Something like that. Give people license to take a risk now and then at your organization. If they don’t feel like they can afford to fail ever, they’ll never try anything new, and your marketing will get stale fast.

The technical capabilities that will prove invaluable for marketers in the (near) future

Marketing measurement and analytics.

This ties in to what I was saying about proactively laying the groundwork to measure, but let’s go a little deeper. Modern marketers need to develop some chops in coding and math. I’m not saying they need to be developers, but until the mainstream tools available to solopreneurs and SMBs catch up with what you can do with IBM Watson, marketers need to bridge the gap using some available data analysis tools that are more DIY and require a bit of language from R or Python. It sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. My go-to expert on all things measurement related is Christopher Penn, co-founder of data science company Trust Insights.

Marketing automation.

Great marketing can’t scale without automation. Not everything has to be automated, and you don’t have to have an insanely complex and expensive software solution that “does it all,” but you do need to be able to use behavioral triggers to send or display the right messages to the right people at the right time. People expect a relevant, personalized experience with your brand at every touchpoint, and you can’t realistically deliver that without some automation.


What matters is that you get very good at managing projects and keeping your content creation efforts on track. Only by making this process manageable can you scale your business.

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