The Full Stack Communicator
A question that continues to dominate the marketing and wider business world is, who are the businesses that will survive and thrive in an era where change is the only constant?
Any business though, is made up of people, so the question to ask is, who are the employees that will survive and thrive in an era of change? This complex question, I believe has a simple answer – someone that possesses the skills of creativity, technology and business. A Full Stack Communicator.
Why focus on communications who may ask?
I am clearly biased having spent the vast majority of my career in all aspects of marketing communications but today more than ever the skill of communications is more vital to companies than it ever has been.
One of my marketing hero’s Don Schultz, Professor Emeritus of Northwestern University and the Godfather of the integrated marketing communications movement when he pointed out that in a world where companies and products look more and more alike the only way to truly differentiate is through the way we communicate.
The term “full stack” comes from the world of software development where engineers that can develop across all layers of software are called “Full Stack” developers.
This term however can and should be used for the people that inhabit today’s marketing organisations. In days gone by in many companies these people were not so important.
They booked advertising in known media channels, they did events and if you were lucky they ordered some nice merchandise for customers and employees. OK maybe that’s a bit harsh but often they were not seen as a strategic asset to the company.
Today the modern marketer creates and executes in many cases the entire customer journey from awareness of a companies brand, product and services right through to the creation of a brand advocate, post purchase.
The Growth Challenge
The biggest challenge for todays CEO is growth. How are they going to either sustain or increase their growth compared to the competition whilst also providing returns to their shareholders?
The answer to this question is of course individual to any given company but you will often find the terms “digital transformation” and “new business models” as part of the answer.
In this context it is vital that the marketing organisation – whether they be one person or one thousand possess the skills of a Full Stack Communicator.
Creativity has and always will be at the centre of any successful marketers skill set. How you tell your brand story and stand out against the competition is key.
Having been the recipient of quite few awards for our creative campaigns over recent years I can safely say that what makes for great great creative work is the propensity for marketers to take a risk.
If you want to move your brand from position A to position B in anyones mind you need to dare to do something different, something that has not been done before. This is easier said than done in todays organisational context but without daring to try new and sometimes risky things you will not do your best creative work.
Creative ideas can come from anywhere but one tip I would give is that some of the best creative work today is done with both culture and purpose at the centre. If you can marry what is going on in popular culture with the true purpose and values of your organisation you often have a winning combination.
Earlier this year I published a post on the 27 tools in my Martech stack. One of the biggest changes in marketing over recent years has been the explosion of tools and platforms that enable you to do your job.
This is both positive and negative. The positive side is that never has a marketer had so many tools which enable them to execute activities, choose channels, measure outcomes and improve messages than ever before.
On the negative side though as we all concentrate on either up skilling or acquiring talent to take advantage of the opportunity that managing a digital customer journey presents, we sometimes focus more on this than the creative storytelling and key strategic messages that are at the core of our business.
Technology and channels to reach your customers will come and go and being comfortable with testing new platforms and also ceasing to use some will be an important part of any marketers way of working.
The area that excites me most over the coming years is the area of predictive analytics. Fuelled by machine learning the modern marketer should be able to know the outcome of any given activity before they even start it but I have to say I think risk will always be present in our work … just maybe not how we historically experienced it.
About 10 years into my career I pursued an MBA to improve my understanding and connection to the business world.
It was during this experience where I was hanging out with many senior managers from large organisations as well as CFOs and the odd marketer that I started to understand what a bad reputation both marketers and communicators had in organisations.
Technology and data are now at the centre of modern marketing. Our ability to use this data to increase our organisations growth prospects is key. But to be taken seriously at the highest level you need to understand your organisations growth levers and how you in marketing are effecting them.
So next time you think about self development whether it be through self learning or outside education think about going on a simple finance course.
If you know you P&Ls from your balance sheets and cash flows and understand the true value drivers of enterprise value you will be in a good position to out argue your CFO, get more respect from your CEO and management team and ultimately get more resources and respect for you and your organisation.
Once you or your team’s have mastered creativity, technology and business you only need one more element to be successful. A work process that is fit for purpose in today’s reality.
We have done lots of work on this recently and have, inspired by our engineering colleagues, committed to an agile process for Mynewsdesk’s marketing team. So far this year that has generated a 70% increase in productivity for our marketing organisation in terms of closed new business.
Ok I can’t let our work processes take all the credit, we do have some awesome talent, using the best marketing technology and we truly understand the business we impacting but it has certainly helped.
An agile process ensures you are collaborating well, continuously improving and reacting on change in a prioritised and transparent way.
It easy to put it in a graphic and write about it but believe me it is much harder to execute, however with a little patience it can deliver great results.
So there you have it, good luck mastering creativity, technology, business and an agile marketing process. This will be one way of future proofing both yourself and your organisation. Good luck becoming that Full Stack Communicator you deserve to be.