I think I shocked a few folks recently when I told them that my goal is to work myself out of a job. That’s not a typical statement in corporate America. My title is “Interactive Marketing Director” and I’ve been figuring out how to use the internet for consumer marketing for more than a decade. But the fact is, digital marketing is now mainstream, and understanding how to leverage digital strategy needs to be a core skill of every marketer. Digital strategies and tactics are becoming integral to every facet of marketing, including advertising, PR, media, research, packaging, promotion, and marketing communciations, and each discipline needs to understand the digital environment and how to leverage it to meet the business objectives.
You know this must be the case when the Pentagon decides to shut down their Social Media office. “It’s important for people in press operations, community and public outreach and communications and planning to be able to know how to use and access Facebook, Twitter and the other social media tools, rather than just have a single unit or single person do nothing but social media,” says public-affairs chief Douglas Wilson.
And to take this idea just a bit further, it’s not just the folks in marketing or sales that need to understand how the digital world impacts our brands. As digital social networks become intrinsic to the lives of more and more of us, everyone in the company has the potential to influence opinion about the brand, if only to their own social network. That means that it isn’t just the marketing and sales team that needs to understand brand strategy – everyone in the organization needs to know whether/how to respond when someone in their social network asks a question or makes a statement about the brand.
Sure, that can be scary, but it can also be a tremendous opportunity. Everyone in the company is proud to be part of the work and wants to see the brand(s) succeed (and if that’s not the case, there is a bigger problem that I’m not going to try to address!) In Empowered, the authors call these folks HEROes: Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives. Essentially everyone in the company can be a marketer – and wow, doesn’t that make our always limited budgets so much more powerful? As Jeremy Epstein notes in his recent post, it is like having a pile of money sitting around, waiting for it to be invested.
So, as I said at the beginning, my job is to work myself out of a job. It obviously won’t happen overnight (hopefully!) but over the next few years, much of what I do today will become part of the jobs of lots of other folks. But I have a feeling that the essence of what I have always done will be much the same: I will still be an evangelist, a change-agent, someone is looking for what’s next, to make sure that we have HEROes for our brands and our company.