Poets & Plumbers: The Need for New Skill Sets in Marketing and Sales

 In Industry News

Poets and plumbersEmail is by far the most important and popular communication vehicle used for individual internal and external communication in all types of companies and organizations today.

Each of us sends numerous emails every day communicating internally and externally with all types of stakeholders including customers and potential customers. At the end of our emails we have our email signature and you would be surprised to learn that only very few companies and organizations have this small, but crucial branding element under control. Some companies and organizations will issue guidelines and provide templates that employees can use when they individually set up their email signatures, but very few have the means to enforce these guidelines and in most cases the guidelines are not followed.

Personal email is without question the most effective digital communication channel available. The open and click-through rates of personal emails are incredibly high. Then why do marketers not take advantage of this communication channel for branding and campaigning purposes?

There are two reasons why marketers ignore the personal email communication channel:

  1. They never thought of it.
  2. The personal email system is provided and operated by the IT department (personal emails are considered IT and not marketing territory).

When companies decide to get the email signature anarchy under control they typically ask the IT department to find a solution. The CIO will assign the task to a technical person that will come up with two alternatives:

  1. Develop a little script that appends a standard disclaimer type message at the end of each outgoing email.
  2. Acquire a commercial solution that can be implemented in the current email system. The solution will be maintained and any changes will have to be implemented by the IT department.

The example with using the personal email signature for branding and campaigning purposes represents an enormous challenge, which most companies and organizations around the world today face.

Marketing and sales channels are increasingly becoming digital but marketing and sales executives lack digital skills!

As our customers and potential customers are spending less and less time on the classical asynchronous communication channels (newspapers, magazines, broadcast TV, radio, printed matters etc.) and spending more and more time on the web, social media, including Twitter, and email, marketers and sales executives must learn how to use and communicate on these new digital channels. But the learning curve is apparently steep and long and marketers and sales executives struggle to acquire the new skills required.

Poets & Plumbers

Engaging with our potential customers on digital communication platforms requires additional skills compared with the asynchronous era.

Very little of what we have learned as marketers and sales executives in the asynchronous era actually has any value in the digital era.

Developing and maintaining our marketing strategy defining customer value propositions and ideal customer profiles are still basic requirements, but marketers and sales executives must increasingly understand the operational details of the individual digital channels used by their target market segments including how they work technically. They must understand statistical principles, data analytics and the principles of testing and validation. They must be able to understand customer journeys and design corresponding engagement strategies, possess domain experience and insight in the areas where they are to build authority and thought leadership, craft quality textual content, design communicative illustrations, grasp the programming skills required for reformatting the designers proposals to formats that are both user-friendly and engaging in the various browser and device formats and on the various digital channels, and finally they need project management and coordination skills and people management and leadership qualities. We will seldom find all these skills and qualities in a single person, but without a substantial overlap in the skill sets no team will be able to perform effectively in the digital era.

Customer Lifetime Value is decreasing and Customer Acquisition Cost is increasing across all industries. Working both sides of the equation is required to grow volumes and maintain profitability. No potential communication channel can be ignored. The days of the digital illiterate marketer and sales executive are over and believing that we can leave the digital details to the IT department is a massive misunderstanding that no company can afford in the long run.

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