By Jason Miller published January 20, 2015

The New Era of the Hybrid Marketer

Hybrid_Marketer_JasonMiller

I’ve had the invaluable experience of growing up fast as a marketer alongside a marketing industry maturing just as quickly in the digital age. When I first made the move to the B2B marketing space in 2009, there was a shift happening: Social media was starting to take off. Suddenly, marketers were faced with a whole slew of new platforms and technologies we had to master to do our jobs.

What I’ve learned over these last six years has served me well as I’ve taken on the role of senior content manager at LinkedIn. The main message I’ve taken away?

Being a one-dimensional marketer is simply not a good way to get ahead in the B2B world.

Yesterday’s marketers could get away with being creative powerhouses, but today’s successful marketers aren’t just good at one thing – we are hybrid marketers. We don’t profit from excelling in one distinct area like direct mail or email marketing. Instead, we integrate the old and new marketing channels into one overall marketing strategy. We are truly Renaissance marketers for the new age.

And in 2015, marketers have to have skills way beyond the ability to come up with good campaigns. We must be able technologists, social media regulars, and savvy number crunchers. To be successful at demand generation, we have to understand how all of these things fit together to propel a brand forward and lead prospects into and through the funnel.

Here are just some things a hybrid B2B marketer must be good at:

Content

More than anything else, good marketers are married to good content. They understand that there’s no shortcut to becoming a thought leader. You have to put time, and sometimes money, into producing quality content that can be used and reused across the panoply of marketing platforms. The internet has made it possible for marketers to disseminate content far and wide … so that content better be excellent.

RELATED:  If you want to be effective in content marketing, you need a documented strategy. Download our 16-page guide.

Search Engine Optimization

To be a good hybrid marketer, you don’t need to be an expert at search engine algorithms, but you do need to have a basic grasp of how SEO strategies affect your content and your search rankings. Seattle-based search analytics company Moz offers a free Beginners Guide to SEO that outlines how search engines operate, how consumers interact with them, and the basics of SEO design and development.

Social

Show me an exec who is winning at marketing, and I’ll show you an exec who writes his own social updates. Social media isn’t a channel that can be successfully outsourced to the new intern. To be truly relevant and make an impact on your brand, it has to come from the heart … of your company.

Sure, there are times to bring in an outside agency for expertise on a social media campaign, but on a day-to-day basis, marketers must be hands-on with social media, and that includes understanding how to best use LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media channels. There’s no shortcut to mastery. As they say: The best way to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.

Look at your phone right now. Do you have the apps for your social media installed and ready to use? If not, stop and do that immediately. And post a few updates, while you’re at it. Hey, you can even post a link to this article if you’d like.

Email

You probably get a lot of emails from a lot of companies. We all do, and there’s a reason for that: Email works. McKinsey recently reported that email is about 40 times better at customer acquisition than social media. But not just any email. In the early days of email marketing, the dreadful batch-and-blast email reigned supreme, but marketers have wised up to the folly of spamming everyone on their list with the same generic message.

Today’s talented hybrid marketers build personalized campaigns and dynamic experiences that guide each customer along his journey to purchase. They know that email doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it must work in tandem with landing pages, social media, and metric tracking. And this brings me to my next point …

Technology

The hybrid marketer is not afraid of software. He’s done the research and can confidently make recommendations to his leadership team so the right marketing solutions enter the company’s technology repertoire. And when it comes to implementing that software, he’s leading the charge – not relying on IT.

RELATED: 12 questions to ask when making a content marketing technology decision

Coding

Speaking of technology, if you’re going to work on the internet, you have to have at least a basic understanding of how it works underneath the shiny veneer – the good old ones and zeros that make it tick. A marketer with a basic understanding of coding languages like HTML and CSS not only has a better grasp of what can be done visually with a website or email newsletter, but can make small changes on the fly without having to call in the big engineering guns.

Analytics

We marketers used to think it was enough to come up with great ideas and set them loose in the world. Back in the “old days” of 2009, of course, digital marketing was in its infancy, and tracking ROI was out of the question. The best we could hope for was to make some sort of unquantifiable-but-positive impact on our overall marketing by engaging in untested social and email tactics.

But we can’t get away with that sort of laissez-faire marketing anymore. New technology makes it possible to measure the effects of marketing efforts precisely, and that’s a good thing, because it means we can now prove marketing ROI (and our worth) to company leadership.

Out of every campaign is born metrics, and it’s the marketer’s job to dissect them – drops in traffic, high bounce rates, conversions, etc. Google Analytics is the most obvious place to start if your company is not yet monitoring analytics, and Search Engine Watch has one of the best intro to Google Analytics guides.

Future

As hybrid marketers, we aren’t just dabblers; we are practitioners. We go out of our way to master the tactics and strategies that make up a complete integrated marketing approach. We are willing to learn things and constantly change our skill set and points of view to serve our end goals. This list is constantly growing, so the most important trait of any good hybrid marketer is to be adaptable – open to picking up new skills and always keeping an eye on what’s next.

RELATED: Stay up to date on trends with This Old Marketing, our weekly podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.

Want to improve your hybrid marketer skills? Sign up for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Access to over 35 courses, taught by experts from Google, Mashable, SAP, and more.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Jason Miller

Jason Miller is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, leading the content marketing and social media strategy for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. Before LinkedIn, he was the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy, at Marketo and spent more than 10 years at Sony Music Entertainment, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. When he is not building campaigns, creating remarkable content, and tracking the ROI of social, he is winning awards as a concert photographer, singing 80's metal Karaoke, and winning at Seinfeld trivia. You can also read his #1 best-selling Amazon book Welcome to the Funnel. Follow Jason on Twitter @JasonMillerCA.

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  • mohammad umair

    Jason, what I get from this article is that, a well-rounded marketer is the next skill set. But don’t you think this might somehow end up creating “Jack of all trades and master of none” kind of digital marketers.

    • http://internetmarketinghustle.com/ Paul Manwaring

      If you look at job positions posted online many companies expect a marketer to have design skills, coding, PR let alone every aspect of marketing that you have mentioned above.

      Its a shame because i think Moh is right, this could create a ‘jack of all trades’

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      I’m simply stating that in my opinion, the most successful marketers moving forward will never stop learning, and will go out of their way to understand every aspect of technology that can help them to be successful. Based on my personal experience and many of the marketers that I know. It’s not a “Jack of all trades”, that’s simply a limited view of the bigger picture. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://sorryformarketing.com Jay Acunzo

    YES to this post! When I worked at Google, I volunteered to interview new candidates for my team of digital media strategists advising brands. People Ops coached us to find “mental athletes” when interviewing, rather than to hire for bullets on a job description.

    Mental athletes meant well-rounded, multi-faceted individuals that were agile, passionate, and talented/driven enough to keep learning and growing constantly. They/we could fit into different roles with a changing digital landscape. That allowed my team and really Google at large to move quickly between search, display, mobile, YouTube, et al — and back again — with the evolving times. And this happened QUARTERLY. And it just plain WORKED.

    As an aside, we weren’t “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” as the saying goes. We were given educational opportunities to become masters of anything we, our clients, or the company wanted.

    Jacks of All Trades, Masters of None only emerge when a company doesn’t commit to continued employee development, letting them stagnate and specialize too much. So when a company finds itself with ineffective generalists, I think that’s on the company to hire better, train better, and support better (read: support beyond the onboarding of an employee).

    So while we can’t all be Google, I think we do need to adopt that mentality and look for more mental athletes rather than pigeon-holed specialists.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment Jay. I think the “mental athletes” term calls for a blog post itself. Thinking…….

      • http://sorryformarketing.com Jay Acunzo

        Thanks Let me know if you like it enough to write something. Can definitely expand on that (including more details from the Googs and some entertaining examples).

  • Vanessa

    I don’t disagree that you need to have a basic knowledge in these areas a marketer – but I resent the idea that all of these skills can be learned. Someone who inherently understands how analytics works – what data means, how to use those metrics to make improvements – is going to have a fundamentally different skill set than someone who knows how to write compelling copy or design a beautiful website. I think employers want to find ‘jack of all trades’ when they’re trying to save a £ or two, but the businesses that succeed are those that understand the value of having experts in each of these areas, and recruit accordingly.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      There is certainly a time and place for “experts” but from my experience, the marketing leaders of the future will have a much more rounded out skill set. All of these skills can be learned in the right setting, encouragement, and ambition. It’s a tough world out there for us marketers, why would you not want to expand upon your expertise and learn as much as you possibly can?

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Jason, I know what you’re saying in this excellent, concise post is true. But it makes me weary when I try to imagine doing everything you’re suggesting. I’m not super-woman. I’m a solo entrepreneur (as are many others) working IN my business and ON business each day. It’s a time trade we all have to juggle, and the more I have to do for marketing, the less time I have to actually do my revenue-generating work. It’s the daily challenge of every entrepreneur, right?

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Hi Mia, you make a very valid point. It certainly is a time juggle, but a few minutes each day dedicated to one or two of these ideas can make a huge impact in a very short time.

      • Mia Sherwood Landau

        That’s really encouraging, Jason. I think it’s the initial learning curve, even for those of us who LOVE to learn, and the constant investment in various platforms and systems that engenders the basic overwhelm. Oh, and knowing everything is likely to change again next week, on Google or just in marketing best practices generally. A couple minutes a day sounds GREAT!

        • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

          Just drop a few of your favorite blogs into an app like Pulse and check it in the morning. I set up a custom feed of my favorite blogs based on what I wanted to learn. It was my morning paper : )

  • http://www.imaginepub.com/ James Meyers

    Great post Jason. Imagination started 20 years ago as a custom publisher so content’s at our core but we’ve morphed over the last five years into a hybrid agency model where strategy, content creation and distribution marketing tied together through deep analytics all play an equally important role. We’ve also learned that it’s much more efficient and better for our clients if we hire and develop staff as “hybrid”personnel that cover and integrate all areas rather than “siloed” specialists.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Great point James. I appreciate the insight. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://isitedesign.com/ carmenhill

    I absolutely agree, Jason! Even though I’d been B2B marketing copywriter for a few (cough) years before you joined the party in 2009, I too saw the huge new opportunities that content and social created—and pivoted from being “just a copywriter” to become something much closer to the hybrid breed of marketer you describe. Content and social came easily; for former journalists this comes like breathing. The more left-brain disciplines of SEO, analytics and number crunching have come more slowly, but eventually, this too becomes second nature. Reading through the other comments, I identify with the challenges of trying to cover all these bases yourself. If you’re lucky, you have subject matter experts who can help; so you you can focus on deep mastery of a few skills, practical familiarity with the full breadth, and rely on other team members for the rest. If you’re a solo practitioner or in a small/start-up environment, then you don’t have that luxury and have to be a ruthless prioritizer. Thanks for the post, Jason. #loveyourwork

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks Carmen! It’s all about networking and relationships. The very smart marketers that I have met over the years such as yourself have played a pivotal role in how I view the marketing space. #feelingsmutual

  • http://www.thecontentwrangler.com/ Scott Abel

    This post makes the case why content marketers need to understand intelligent content. And, it underscores why Content Marketing Institute acquired the Intelligent Content Conference, for which I serve as program manager. While I agree that not all of the things hybrid content marketers may need to understand are easy to learn and master, it’s important that we — at a minimum — understand what is possible today when we rely on computers to help us optimize the way we create, manager and deliver content. It’s critical to re-imagine the way we produce content and explore adopting innovative ways of doing so — ways that may be foreign and outside our comfort zone; ways that will empower us to do amazingly great work.

    I hope to see many of you in San Francisco this March for Intelligent Content Conference. http://www.intelligentcontentconference.com

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Hope to see you there Scott! Thanks for chiming in!

  • http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/our-blog/ Doug Kessler

    Great post.

    The marketers best suited to the times are the ones who love learning.
    Your list feels right for today — but I imagine it will change in a year or two.
    Successful marketers now are the ones who never stop learning.
    And isn’t that a fantastic career to have?

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Well said Doug. It’s fun to keep up with the challenges with such a wealth of information at our disposal. You get out of marketing exactly what you put into it.

  • Lisa Byrnes Whiting

    Jason, as always a great post and commentary thread. I was inspired by Paul Roetzer when I came across his book The Marketing Agency Blueprint as well as this ebook in 2013 http://www.pr2020.com/blog/evolution-prototype-hybrid-marketer-ebook It prompted me to dedicate significant personal time and resource to invest in online training to continuously ensure that I do my best to “keep up!”. As Steve Rubel, Chief Content Strategist from Edelman once said, “The most important tool you can have today in business is insatiable curiosity. The minute you lose it, you’re dead.” And indeed Albert Einsten said “ I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”My hunger to do more, learn more and be more is fueled daily by the dynamic industry that we work in and the pace and rate of change and I think one of the key things I have noticed about successful hybrid marketers, more than anything else is intense curiosity. I love that most about the blog posts and twitter feeds and people that I follow. It’s inspiring and you are indeed one of those. I’m sure you are very familiar with Paul and his team at 20/20 but for anyone interested I would recommend downloading his ebook.

    • http://www.signalfire.us/ Matthew Olson (Signalfire)

      She beat me to the punch on this one. Paul’s book and blog are top notch.

      Great post, Jason. Lisa, glad to know there are others are taking note of Paul’s insight.

      • Lisa Byrnes Whiting

        Agree…refer to both regularly.

      • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

        Thanks Matthew!

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for sharing this Lisa, I hadn’t seen that ebook before. Checking it out now.

      • Lisa Byrnes Whiting

        Most welcome. I think you will really find interesting. It’s a great blog to follow also. Nice to be able to refer you to something considering I regularly get so much great information and resources from your posts. It’s always nice to pay back and forward. Have a great day.

  • http://www.toprankmarketing.com/ Lee Odden

    Great list Jason, As Google’s Avinash Kaushik has said, “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”

    • wolfgang whereever

      You cannot be good, like really good , at 10 or 20 or more things… that’s not how we humans are designed… ask any psychologist, etc. We can manage, get by or whatever on 10 or 20 things… but that is not the same. It would be great to re-introduce some humility regarding the human condition… even in marketing 😉

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks Lee! Certainly is a 10-thing world at the moment.

  • harrigaggiotti

    as Steve implied I’m alarmed that someone can earn $4160 in 1 month on the internet . you could try this out

  • jfdimark

    Hi Jason, great post and I agree that to be an effective marketer, you need to be proficient in several disciplines, while constantly being flexible enough to learn new skills and adapt to new trends as necessary.

    I would say to add to your list – being a good relationship builder/people person is crucial too. Not many truly successful professionals in any discipline make it by sitting behind a screen all day. They’re always great at making connections offline and over the phone as well as through digital channels.

    The second is experiential and live event marketing. I’ve seen a lot of job descriptions include all of the above + event marketing as a core task. It’s definitely something I do regularly on top of everything else.

    Final thought – while being good as all these multiple disciplines will make you a very competent and effective marketer – probably in the top 5% – to be truly exceptional and make it into the top 1%, you’ll need to add in people management, leadership, strategic thinking and problem solving in the mix too, OR, if you don’t want to continue up the corporate ladder and want to remain a practicing marketer, you’ll need to pick one of the above to excel at, better than almost anybody else, and that will be your key point of differentiation (while still being good at the rest). So being a specialist will still remain important (I believe) to stand out.

    • http://www.blog.marketo.com/ Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment. I totally agree with you that there are many more attributes that could be added here. I wrote this post based on my own experiences and would certainly add in relationship building and live speaking. I would like to think that most of us marketers who are in the trenches at the moment have an outgoing personality and a good sense of humor, if they don’t already then add that to the list as well. I really don’t think about top 5% or top 1%, I am much more concerned with marketers making bad decisions simply because they do not know any better. That’s much more alarming to me and a problem that can easily be addressed by the hybrid marketer.

      Really great points though and thanks again for chiming in. Much appreciated.