No longer should the question be if someone understands digital marketing or not, but rather whether they have an appreciation for the fundamentals of marketing that have been built up over the last hundred years.

All marketing is digital or has the potential to be. You even get digital radio, magazines, billboards and TV. There's not a marketer around these days that does not understand the impact the move from analogue communication to digital has had on the field.

Today, all marketers are digital marketers, just like everyone types on a computer, and no one travels via horse-drawn carriage anymore. The world has changed — for marketing too. The days you meet a marketer that says, "I don't believe in digital" are over. All marketers are digital marketers.

Marketing has indeed become a specialist field. A search engine marketer has different skills from a social media marketer or a content marketer; however, these specialisations are only relevant in massive campaigns.

As a small / mid-sized business, you should invest in a marketer that can do a bit of everything and, crucially, learn how to work across mediums and platforms.

Role divisions are a luxury, apart from the core components of designing a brand, building a website and writing the occasional press release. Certainly, the everyday stuff, like posting to social media, is not an area requiring specialist skills — not for the average business.

Marketing — especially the digital type — is highly integrated and having someone that only focuses on one part is generally not a good idea. Social media must flow from a well-written blog, which in turn may require search engine optimisation and even distribution via email marketing.

The whole thing is connected, and the danger of having someone focused only on one platform or channel means you miss out on the overall impact of a broad campaign. Odds are you need a marketer — not a Facebook marketer.

There's a reason why so many marketing books are written and why one can do courses on it — even degrees. Marketing is not a new subject, and many of the core principles apply no matter the medium.

For example, this article by Koen Pauwels beautifully summarises ten core truths that are counterintuitive unless you've studied the subject. One can be a great Facebook marketer, but be unaware of the fundamental principles and in the process lose the business lots of money.

Instead of adverting for a digital marketer or a social media marketer, look for someone who can do the basics that underpin everything. Find someone to help you write a marketing that ties in with the business objectives and provides tangible support to the sales function.

When it comes to marketing, you want to look for the old-school types that understand marketing is a business function with commercial demands! More often than not, your social media marketer doesn't know how it all fits together and takes an unnecessarily blinkered view of what should happen — be careful.

Often companies think they can solve a sales issue with a quick marketing effort.

Let's quickly get a Facebook person to come and run a campaign for us. These efforts often go hand in hand with a repetitive message about how results are required, or "We want to see results", and "We don't mind paying but show us the results".

In these cases, the poor marketer takes the job because they can squeeze out a bit of money while it lasts, but it's a lose-lose situation.

Results-driven marketing requires an ongoing long-term effort that cannot just be switched on and off as needed. Marketing is a business function like operations, finance, HR and sales. You need to do it and do it continuously to see those results.

Marketing is not an optional expense and looking for quick-fix solutions is short-sighted. Your business needs to:
  • manage its brand
  • segment its market
  • set communication objectives, and
  • implement with discipline or there will never be results.
Marketing's role in the business is to manage the relationship with the broader market beyond the immediate sales connections. Like with all relationships, good ones don't come easy and certainly not quickly.

Do you need a digital marketer? Absolutely, like all marketers these days. The real question is: do you need someone that understands the foundations on which good marketing is built? And here, the answer is clear — absolutely! You need — a marketer. 

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