31 July 2012 by Samantha Gould
I worked in various direct marketing roles for just over eleven years. Starting off as a marketing assistant (specialising in copywriting, of course), I gradually acquired the necessary skills and grew in confidence until I emerged a fully-fledged direct marketing manager, complete with my own executive (or Daniel-san, as I referred to her).
What always struck me (and still does), is that more than any other industry I know of, marketers are expected to be experts in every conceivable skill set:
They need to be proficient number crunchers - adept at recognising patterns in data, calculating budgets and squeezing every last drop of funding out of a campaign. They need to be great communicators - building relationships with suppliers and being shrewd enough to cut a good deal with them.
Additionally, of course, they need to be able to critique print design and understand customer journeys and user experience (UX) website design. On top of all this, they will also be tasked with writing copy - persuading customers to take action and bring in more revenue for the business - and then there's results analysis!
Phew, not much then!
Obviously, not all organisations expect so much from each member of their marketing team. some businesses recognise the importance of splitting departments and placing various people in the right, specialised role. But not all companies have that luxury.
It's all too common to see stressed-out marketing professionals scratching their heads as they try to write new website content whilst simultaneously negotiating a printer contract and drilling down into data to understand customer behaviour.
If I ruled the world, things would be different. Companies would play to people's strengths so that individuals are given the opportunity to develop in whichever direction they are most proficient at. Of course, I'm biased. That's exactly what I did. After a decade of plate spinning, I took a deep breath and specialised in copywriting. And I haven't looked back since.
I have full respect for all the marketers who continue to try to do everything, and I know that for many this is exactly the reason they chose marketing as a profession. To these people I doff my cap in absolute admiration. But if you're one of the frazzled workers, desperate to see the light at the end of the tunnel, my advice would be this:
Choose whichever aspect of marketing you love the most and become an expert in it. Whether it's design, data, planning, controlling budgets, negotiating contracts, writing copy or strategising - there's plenty to choose from!
Once you've specialised, you'll be able to drill down to the granular detail you've always strived for (but haven't found enough hours in the day for). You'll hone your skills and deepen your knowledge, discovering a clarity other marketers will envy. You'll earn the new-found respect of your peers and bring something truly valuable and unique to the boardroom table.
Gone will be the days of delivering yet another presentation with bleary-eyed exhaustion. From now on, you'll enjoy the self-assurance which comes from perfectly mastering an aspect of the marketing mix.