The Search for the Mythical Marketing Job

Everyday I tend to receive quite a few LinkedIn requests, and besides the usual assortment, there is a rise in the number of requests pertaining to jobs and potential vacancies, and not only from within the country but externally as well.

For most Marketers right now, the profession is going through a low period, with many executives and professionals on the lookout for new opportunities mostly due to redundancies.

Marketing is a sensitive profession, and by that I mean it is a field which acts as a barometer of the overall economy. When business is good or on the uptake, there is an increase in demand for marketing professionals who can create a demand, brand awareness and overall promotion of a product due to higher disposable incomes; and vice versa when the economy is not so great, marketing is one of the first fields to be impacted. This is not to be confused for Sales, which is a different job function. In fact, with fewer marketing professionals in an organization, there is an increase for ‘sales’ professionals, where the idea is that direct selling would be more effective in moments of financial straits, especially since it is seen as direct action, and execution. This is a logic, I have not be able to come to terms with. Marketing is for awareness, which acts as a catalyst for sales. With limited awareness, the sales cycle is longer and increasingly dependent on return business and direct referrals. In fact in moments of reduced business, an increase in marketing expenditure and the retention of marketing professionals is exactly what is needed to keep a business afloat.

There is also an underlying logic, that costs can be reduced by letting go of management and senior management, which on paper is definitely true. But the twist is that, these management positions are ‘downgraded’ and replaced by executives, coordinators and junior staff to do the same level of work, in the same capacity with less resources, not just monetary but with less experience and knowledge as well of what needs to be done. Most professionals at this level, are either still learning or used to following direction. So is this the best direction for growth? I am not sure. But in saying that, I have to make a point that I do know some exceptionally talented executives who do an amazing job of keeping the department afloat and who know how to get things done.

There is also another trend where jobs are being ‘outsourced’ to agencies, while retaining coordinators to well co-ordinate. This seems like a sensible option, where you can get the best of both worlds. However anyone who has worked with an agency would know, that while they are extremely talented, especially when it comes to execution, they require a certain level of direction especially when it comes to business priorities. So you do require people on client side who in tune with the business to assist in these activities or it maybe not the best use of resources.

I have been on the lookout myself for a new opportunity, have been on quite a few interviews, and met with recruiters but these are challenging times and it has not been easy to be placed. Below is some of the feedback I have received, as well as my out of my own experience.

There are few roles available in the market, but it is not very clear on the type of people required, so in short to sum it up, you are expected to be the director, manager and executive rolled up in one, but also at the pay level of an executive with the designation of manager. Now, I may sound like it’s all about the money, but it’s not. I love what I do, and am dedicated to my work, but at the same time you would want to receive a salary which is also fair, keeping in mind market and economic conditions of course. Due to desperation, there are a lot of senior management who are applying for more junior roles, so as to keep working. I can understand this, but this is used as justification or reasoning why you need to be ‘more flexible’ in your own job selection. Then is the actual role itself. There are ‘digital’ roles where you do traditional, events, PR as well as digital. This is quite a load. When I have asked why is this the case, the answer is that they want someone with a strong digital background hence the title, however you are still a marketing manager. Now digital itself is a full time job, especially, as true digital enthusiasts know it’s not just about marketing but the entire digital process. In my previous roles, I have been 100% digital and I have also been Digital with everything, and they both have their pros and cons. Being entirely in digital makes you extremely focused but you tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, while being involved with everything gives you better end to end control however you cannot go into as much detail as you would like. To be honest there are very few organizations which are looking for pure digital roles, while pure traditional roles are possible. And of course finally, to get placed in a company and organization you like, where you can grow and develop as well.

Now you might say, Fel, you’re in search of the Holy Grail but that was not the point of this post. As I mentioned I have met with several people & recruiters, some of told me what I was looking for was feasible, while others not so much. There have been instances where I so close to getting something I wanted and then it falling apart, while in some cases I got what I wanted but it was certainly not what I expected. The point of this was not to rant about the job situation in the market, but instead so you may have a better idea of what the actual situation is, and you can make your own decision on what is the right path for you.

Do you have any experiences which you would like to share?

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The consumer decision making process – Part 2

This is part 2 of the “consumer decision making process”

To review:

The consumer decision making process are the various stages a consumer goes through before they actually purchase a product, and includes: Need Recognition, Research, Evaluation / Comparison, Purchase and finally post purchase evaluation. The time between initial research and purchase is referred to as lead time. The lead time can vary between products and industries based on the cost, importance, emotional involvement of the product.

In the first part, I covered: Need Recognition and Product Research; which you can read about here: The consumer decision making process – Part 1

Evaluation / Comparison
In this stage, the consumer has now narrowed his options down to two or three brands and has to make a decision to purchase from one of these. Decision can not only be influenced by internal factors, but external factors as well, such as reviews and recommendations especially from friends. Facebook encourages people to check-in and leave reviews of different products or brands that you have experience with. Other industries  have other larger review sites such as Zomato for F&B or Trip Advisor for hospitality. These reviews can be shared onto Facebook to promote ‘good vibes’ of your brand. For others who are more price sensitive, it is at this stage that offers can be used to encourage purchase. Facebook provides an ‘offer’ ad type with a ‘buy now’ button which can be used to advertise an offer. In my experience however, a click to website ad type also works very well with offers as it is less direct and encourages people to find out more about the offer first rather than encouraging them to buy directly.
If you have your potential consumer’s email addresses, then a Facebook re-targeting campaign can be done to promote the offer to only those who were interested previously and visited the website. While an offer can be promoted to everyone, by being selective the conversion rate can be potentially higher.

Example – Emirates provides an offer with its Skywards points to encourage people to redeem and book – Now you need only half the usual number of Skywards Miles to make your next great escape. 

 

Purchase
Finally the customer is ready to purchase the product. This can be done on the website on in-store depending on the set up. Social Media can play a part of the purchase process in a few ways. The content to be posted in this stage is quite similar to Evaluation. This can be offers but with an added incentive such as a social media discount, or creating FOMO, or by re-targeting offers to previously interested customers.

 

Post- purchase Evaluation
Just because the customer has purchased the product that does not mean the process has concluded. In fact post-purchase is one of the most crucial stages as it determines whether your customer would be a one-off or a loyal one. While other factors such as brand, or product quality can have an impact, the company also has a role to play. Once the purchase is done, the company can follow up with them to check on customer satisfaction, they can actively encourage people to leave reviews on Facebook and to rate their product. While this can be a risk, in case of a bad product review, it does open an opportunity to engage the customer in solving their problems, get product feedback, replace the item if needed and get a positive review. In fact many people turn to social media to vent and voice their complaints if they are not satisfied. They might not always do this on the brand’s page, therefore it important to invest in a social media monitoring service which can pick up brand mentions from across any social channel giving the company an opportunity to engage and satisfy any unhappy customers, or find satisfied customers whom they can convert into potential brand ambassadors. Because of the dependency to use social media for customer service, brands must ensure they have adequate staff to reply to any complaints, or have a dedicated social channel purely for customer service. Well defined response times should be in place and monitored. Facebook now offers the ability to advertise and interested persons can reach out via Facebook messenger with any queries, if this is the case brands must be able to reply either in real time, or within 24 to 48 hours depending on the urgency and lead time of the product. Facebook provides analytics on response time, the number of messages received and the time taken to respond. All these can be used as KPI’s for customer service. If a customer is happy with their overall experience, they can be converted into loyal customers, which in essence means that, the next time they might want to pick up a similar product either they will stick to their chosen brand or skip the first two stages and go directly to evaluation and purchase, thus reducing the lead time and the time and investment required to convert a customer.

Example – If you see any Emirates Facebook post, their comments are filled with a combination of customer complaints as well as positive stories, yet they make sure that every comment is liked or responded to in a professional and orderly manner.

 

Once you have a better understanding of the purchase funnel, the next question is how would you determine on which stage your customer base is on. There is no clear cut answer to this question as the stages are not as clearly defined. People can move up and down the stages as they get more information or are targeted by more ads. Some industries tend to have distinct purchase periods, such as hospitality has a peak in winter and low in summer; others are consumed so often and quickly that they don’t have defined purchase periods. The more information you have the easier it is:

1) Sales data – look at previous sales data to determine peak purchase periods

2) CRM – your CRM will host customer purchase history, frequency of purchase, repeat purchases etc. all of which can be used to determine any trends

3) Google search – search trends can be used as an indicator of when interest in certain products starts to pick up. It is necessary to first conduct keyword research to fond the keywords associated to your product / brand, which can then be monitored.

4) PPC – If you are running PPC campaigns it can also be a very good source of information to map out your lead time. The keywords used in PPC tend to be across the entire funnel, from generic (which is at need recognition) to keywords associated with offers and sales (evaluation) to brand specific offers (purchase intention). The number of impressions of these keywords determined the frequency of the searches, so by therefore monitoring impressions over time, a time graph can be used to determine when customers go through the different stages.

It is important to keep in mind that the above is only an indication and would not guarantee that these are definitive stages.

The decision making process is an essential part of any marketing activity and is absolutely the most basic and one of the fundamental places to start when investing in a marketing plan and / or a social media strategy.

The consumer decision making process – Part 1

Someone once told me that social media is a branding tool and not a performance based one, this comment got me thinking; how many people do not include social media as part of their performance marketing strategy and advertising? or how many run social media campaigns as purely brand or strictly promotional campaigns? (i.e only promote offers) if so, they are missing on a few steps in the marketing funnel or consumer decision making process.

This maybe be old school marketing, or marketing 101, but the consumer decision making process are the various stages a consumer goes through before they actually purchase a product, and includes: Need Recognition, Research, Evaluation / Comparison, Purchase and finally post purchase evaluation. The time between initial research and purchase is referred to as lead time. The lead time can vary between products and industries based on the cost, importance, emotional involvement of the product. For e.g. a simple example would be as follows:

Short lead time – Grocery Shopping: there is a need for new grocery items such as bread, you would go to a supermarket, research multiple options (white, brown, wholewheat etc.), evaluate the brands and finally purchase; all within a very short span of time. If you are happy with previous selections then you would pick up the same one you usually do, that is called loyalty which is a product of consumer satisfaction.

Long Lead Time – Buying a car: When you decide to purchase a car, while the need may be transportation, other factors to consider would be size, style, budget, car loan, model, brand, insurance, servicing etc. the number of factors is a lot more and the amount of research and evaluation needed is a lot more considerable, as the investment is also a lot more significant (than bread), therefore the lead time itself would also be a lot longer.

Therefore if you are using social media only for branding (need recognition & research), and for offers (evaluation and / or purchase) you are missing on a few more steps.

Now let’s see how social media can be used throughout the decision making process. As an example I would like to use Facebook. Why Facebook? Well, besides being one of the largest and most well used social networks, I am a huge fan of its targeting options and pixel for analytics. Facebook campaigns tend to have a good success rate, but this is dependent on the targeting, budget and overall creative used.
Note: As instagram is also owned by Facebook, it will be included in this article.

So here’s how Facebook can be used on every stage of the consumer decision making process:

Need Recognition
This is the first step where the consumer realizes they have a need, which a product can satisfy. The need can be anywhere from basic, to psychological, or even self actualization (using a bit of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs), so the industry your business is in would be to satisfy one of these needs.
Social Media’s has a very good ability of creating a need for an item which people did not know they wanted. This is based on the ability to develop FOMO (Fear of Missing out) in the minds of the consumer.  Facebook does this by showing you what pages your friends are interested in, what have they liked, commented or shared, which events they are attending, check ins and encouraging tagging for better reach. Marketers have been capitalizing on FOMO for a very long time, by encouraging people to “book first” or ‘be the first … to wear or own an item (for the trend setters)’, or ‘limited items / seats available’ etc.
Need recognition can be created by a company by posting pictures of their most popular or wanted products, or by showcasing how their product can solve a problem through a video and then promoting this video to your target audience, or by running / promoting competitions which encourage you to tag friends you would want to take with you. Good imagery and /or video combined with effective language can be used to develop a need.

Example – Emirates creates a need or inspires you to travel by showing stunning pictures of the various destinations they fly to – Hello Copenhagen

Research
Now that there is a need, the consumer will then start to research the multiple options and brands that available to satisfy that need, as per their requirements. The amount of time spent on this stage would be dependent upon how involved they are with the item. Social media can be used at this stage to highlight aspects of your product which you believe your consumer would use when decision making. This can be either its price, features, or any other factors that the consumer would evaluate. This content can be presented in multiple ways but not limited to: videos, interviews, infographics, trivia etc.
Social Media can be used to highlight all of the above either through organic posts or advertising. All posts should have links back to the website and actively encourage people to click and visit. By visiting they get to learn more about your brand and your company offering. They can be enticed to either subscribe or sign up, in order to capture their email address which can then be used in Facebook re-marketing. A click to website post type can be used to promote a product with ‘Find out more’ to encourage click throughs. A carousel ad type can also be used if there are multiple products or multiple features.

Example: Emirates showcases their award winning entertainment system which can be a factor for long haul flights – Thank you for choosing us as the “Best Entertainment” at the 2017 APEX Passenger Choice awards.

 

 

To be continued……