Ascend2’s Todd Lebo has been in marketing a long time. How long? Long enough to see marketing move from snail mail to email to social media. But with all the rapid changes in marketing in the past two decades, Lebo feels that some things have not and will not change.
He would know. At Ascend2, Lebo researches the things that marketers consider most critical to their success. This, combined with spending the last 12 years marketing to marketers, has given Lebo a unique perspective on how marketing has changed and how it hasn’t.
Lebo said that when he first started in his career, it was all about direct response marketing. You know, the type in which the receiver was asked to call a phone number or send an email address in response. He said that even before email, the principles that he used as far as list development and targeting the right audience still hold true today.
“The foundations totally work for digital marketing. What we do in marketing, the package we use, will change, but the essence of why people buy, in many ways, stays the same,” said Lebo.
Lebo says that there are many new tactics for marketers to use these days.
“It was just much more labor intensive when it was not digital,” said Lebo. “It’s just a different way of finding your ideal customer, having a clear value proposition and having quality lists, these are all the same philosophies that have taken us through different tactics in marketing.”
Like other marketers have said, the quality of your marketing depends on the quality of your target audience.
“It really doesn’t matter if you have wonderful messaging if you’re not tracking the right people and building the right database, with a quality database then it really doesn’t matter how good your website is,” said Lebo. “I’m not as concerned about getting 100,000 people if they’re all the wrong people. But if I get 1,000 people and they’re the right people that’s much better.”
When asked what bits of advice he would give to marketers, Lebo identified two of what he called “barriers to success” for marketers.
The first is a lack of comprehensive strategy. Lebo fears that, these days, there are so many ways to market that it is hard to pick just a few tactics to focus on.
Instead of “going to the next shiny object,” as we all do, Lebo says it’s important to take a step back and look at your overall strategy, then pick the tactics that fit.
“It’s one thing to get it up and running it’s another thing to keep it going over and over,” said Lebo. “That’s the strategy component. Now we have a great white paper, how many different ways can we use that white paper within our content machine?”
Along that same train of thought, Lebo said that another issue that marketers have is that they are very busy people overall.
“There’s a lot of things to do and sometimes you can’t take that step back and look at the overall strategy. Have the discipline to say no,” he suggested.
The other area that Lebo suggests marketers focus on is equally as down-to-earth. Data quality.
“I would say a lot of times marketers under-emphasize the down and dirty, not so sexy part of the job. It is much more fun to put up an engaging video, or to create a great blog post that gets a lot of attention,” said Lebo. “Data is not so sexy, but it is extremely important.”
Lebo said that unified quality data will result in a greater insight as to what your potential customers are doing, which will result in better marketing efforts.
He says that technology is making it easier and easier for marketers to prove what works and what does not work.
“I think what we’re seeing is just higher standards for marketers from the stand point of analytics [being] a requirement,” said Lebo. “It’s actually positive for marketers, because now when marketers are asked to do things, they can do those tactics and they also can come back with cold hard facts of performance.”
Through data, it is now possible to explicitly show how marketing assisted the sales process. It also makes it so marketing is less about who talks about their strategies the loudest and more about what has numbers to back it up.
“It is no longer do what I say because I’m the CEO, you can actually show data.”
And that’s what will catapult marketing into the future.
How long have you been in marketing? What has changed and what has stayed the same? Where do you think the future of marketing is headed? Share with us in the comments section!