The Marketing Challenge To Adapt or Become Obsolete

In a message on the first page of the Pubcon brochure, Brett Tabke says, “Welcome to Pubcon. Adapt or die. Eat or be eaten. Move or be bulldozed. Learn what you need to know or become obsolete.” For marketers who continue to struggle with the deluge of marketing automation tools and the changes associated with content marketing, those words may either paralyze them into thinking they’ll never change enough or scare them into accelerating their quest for relevancy.

Following PubCon, Erin O’Brien, COO, and I discussed the adaptation of marketers, some other things we learned, and questions we heard at PubCon 2015 in Las Vegas.

Adapt or Die?

For marketers, as with professionals in any industry, adaptation is necessary and always has been. Although the marketing ecosystem is changing very quickly right now, it has always been necessary for marketers to learn new things and to keep current with changes associated with messaging and channels.

“Google is not going to stop rolling out algorithm changes and social media channels and ad platforms are not going to stop creating updates and changing,” notes Erin. “The idea is to continuously adapt, always evolve, and constantly learn new things – that’s not new and not just something for marketers.”

The best chance for survival in any profession is to find something you’re good at and then hone your skills in that area. Marketing is no exception. As things change, find ways to apply your skills to something new and re-market yourself. It’s not that different from what you do for your company or your clients as a marketer.

Brett’s warning to continue to learn and evolve is a general wake-up call for anyone who has become comfortable with the status quo. Afterall, learning is uncomfortable and time consuming and people like to feel that they’ve accomplished what they set out to do and are now comfortably at the top of their game.

The problem with complacency is that you may go to sleep tonight thinking you’ve reached the apex of your skill set and knowing that you’re considered the expert in your field, but by tomorrow something else will have changed. The really successful people, and the ones that remain experts in their field, are the ones that have committed themselves to a constant state of evolution, the ones that continue to learn, change, and grow.

To stay relevant, successful marketers will want to keep up with the latest trends and react accordingly by adjusting the medium, the method, and the message in response to changes in how and where content is consumed. Here are a few trends in medium and method that we noticed at Pubcon.

Trends at Pubcon: Local and Mobile Search

There were a lot of sessions at Pubcon this year that focused on the increasing importance of local and mobile search and their influence on marketing and SEO success. As marketers continue to adapt their practices, local and mobile are two trends they’ll need to learn more about and adapt their practices to include.

“When it comes to marketing, this is an area that is evolving quickly because technology continues to make a lot of advances and is being implemented into a lot of platforms right now, ” notes Erin.

Erin suggests some things marketers can do to stay current with local and mobile trends:

  • Do your reading and stay current on what’s happening.
    • The landscape is changing quickly and it will be too hard to get caught up a year from now.
  • Don’t make any sudden movements.
    • Don’t make a ton of changes based on one new channel or algorithm update – things are in flux and it often takes time to figure out how things will shake out.
  • Get local search data.
    • Begin to understand marketing channels and engagement by location to optimize efforts for both B2C and B2B businesses.
  • Create content that is optimized for mobile.
    • Google’s mobile friendly algorithm means everyone needs to have considered mobile with regards to their content.

The mobile and local combination is going to become increasingly important for all sizes of businesses, not just the B2C and e-commerce. Often, the conversation around local gets focused on the consumer side of things – those local and regional businesses that are optimizing for people searching for their product or service on a mobile device. For instance, the proprietor of a coffee shop, or some sort of coffee chain, would want their content, business name, and location to show up at the top of the search query. In this case, content should be local-specific and easily consumable by answering the questions people will be asking first – How do I get there? Where do I park? What can I find once I get there?

But the application for local search data for the B2B marketer is going to be another adaptation for brands hoping to reach an audience and differentiate themselves from other voices in the market. While brands may already have an idea of the general areas, regions, or countries where their website traffic is originating, local search data will give them the ability to get more granular data about their audiences and give them the data they need to capture audiences in specific areas. Using local search data, marketers and SEOs can segment out the types of content people are getting from specific metropolitan areas and learn how they’re describing things and consuming things differently in those locals.

“For example, if I were to say that we get a lot of traffic from three major metropolitan areas, the types of keywords, the types of content, and the specific journey that audiences take in one area may be very different than how that is happening in other areas,” explains Erin. “Understanding the nuanced needs of B2B buyers can put you ahead of your competition when it comes to marketing tactics.”

Just because your brand doesn’t have a brick and mortar prescence or you’re not an e-commerce brand doesn’t mean local data is not important to you. As peronalization message targeting gains in popularity, so will local search data gain in importance.

Adaptation – One Size Does Not Fit All

Not all marketers are created equal, and not all marketers have the same skill set, background, experience, or knowledge level. In fact, not all marketers are doing the same job. The specializations within marketing almost make it hard to define just what a marketer is. While there are obvious differences in skill sets required for the different marketing specializations, staying up to date on the technologies available for marketing will continue to be important for all marketers. Marketing adaptation includes understanding how to use your marketing platform and your marketing tools to get the information you need, even if your focus is on the creative side of marketing.

Erin offers this advice, “Just because you have an affinity for either the right brain or left brain side of things  doesn’t mean you should discount the other side. But it also means that you need to hone in on what you’re really good at while keeping an eye on what else is going on around you.”

Attending conferences, like Pubcon, may be one way to stay current, stay relevant, and to watch the trends and technologies that are ever changing. One thing is sure, there is a lot of information out there and available to anyone who wants to continue to adapt.

If you attended Pubcon, or one of the other conferences this fall for marketing or SEO, let us know some of the trends and challenges you heard about, talked about, or had questions about. Give me a shout at karen@ginzametrics.com, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Categories: Marketing.
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