Lapsed marketing

Are you a “lapsed marketer”?

So here I am randomly blogging after what, a two year hiatus (?) and outta the blue I ask whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms of Marketingus lapsisus. Sounds like a hideous disease but there may be more to this #fake scientific name than you think.

Allow me to walk you through this by first going down memory lane. This may be slightly painful, so bear with me.

Anybody can do marketing

Right? #AMIRITE ??

That’s what a few people suddenly found themselves saying during the Great Recession of 2008, especially following that subprime mortgage fiasco we won’t go into.

I’m not suggesting hordes of people lost everything and suddenly became marketers overnight. I have no specific data to support this claim. However, I distinctly remember encountering and interacting with a host of Twitter profiles back in ‘08 who were all very clearly evangelizing the magic of Marketingus followmeitis, relentlessly bullhorning brand and bait in the name of self-actualizing goals!

Nothing wrong with that. And some may well have transitioned themselves successfully as bone fide marketeers. So, is it true? Can anybody do marketing?

Self-employed pro’s, consultants, artisans and the like do it themselves all the time!

That said, marketing may look like the type of job anybody can do. But it obviously depend8bce7501cb8c8bb6114e11166035be1ds on the context, audience and scale. Enterprise level marketing, for instance, requires specific skills, technical knowledge and field experience. Not only that, you must truly be agile, transmutable and ahead of trends before they emerge.

The unforgiving digital age

During the halcyon days of social media, where online networking was experiencing its own version of Woodstock, the wild wild west of social marketing started rearing its ugly–—I mean, was also burgeoning.

Everybody was a social media expert and if you weren’t, you could just start blogging, tweeting, trolling and BOOM you’re a guru, guest speaking and publishing books about how to publish books! It was a sickeningly syrupy online lovefest underpinned by endless strings of platitudes, retweets and props.

Then the addictive oversharing and hyper transparency started to take its toll. Too much of a good thing quickly transformed the social marketing landscape into a fierce battleground for anyone’s attention mixed right in there with mud-slinging, channelling Mad Men and whining about Twitter #FAILs, pushing out long lists of tips and tricks that sorely stated the obvious, and blogging about the mystical, elusive methods of quantifying metrics.

By the time terms like ‘SEO’ and ‘gamification’ started taking over virtual pats-on-the-back, the technology that fueled the birth of social media was already moving at a rate faster than what any traditional marketer could have anticipated; especially with the meteoric rise of apps. And since tech never ever waits for anyone, this left me wondering: how did all the “Woodstock crowd” manage to keep up? What led them to believe that they could build their glamourous online reputations solely on the backs of rainbow-farting unicorns?

What ‘LapsedRRUAMsmall marketing’ really means

Any marketer today worth their salt is well versed in technology. And by “well versed” I mean, they:

  • understand how the tech works (e.g., principles behind development and code)
  • know how to actually work the tech (e.g., identify, read, adjust code at the most basic level (HTML), use content management systems, SEO, leverage social apps, etc), and
  • monitor and detect developments that have significant impact and implications.

Today’s superstar marketers are hard wired to craft strategies and implement tactics holistically. They adeptly concoct the appropriate formula of traditional principles blended with tech-based efficiencies. Moreover, they possess the uncanny knack of easily translating tech speak to stakeholders and decision makers and substantiate budget proposals with measurable strategies. Most importantly, they’re able to stay ahead of the hype cycle because they parse and filter information very well.

Is he just saying ex-marketers rock because they’re always keenly aware

This specific savoir-faire is what ‘lapsed marketers’ bring to the table. These folks have become so fluent and fluid in their day-to-day brushes with the ubiquity of tech in different industries and aspects of life. They *get* the rapid momentum of the disruptive forces that keep almost every aspect of modern existence on its toes. They no longer work under a confined title “Specialist”, “Manager” or “Director” since their capabilities go beyond the traditional MarComm mould. They have, in a sense, “lapsed from practicing traditional marketing” and have in turn advanced the Marketing Communications role. Whatever professional undertaking they currently assume—be it citizen journalist, researcher, social worker, activist or whatever—their MarComm chops serve as a unique processing and delivery mechanism that enhances both the quality and effectiveness of their profession.

thumbs-up-robotSo, you’re thinking: “Is he just saying ex-marketers rock because they’re always keenly aware, well connected, overly prepared and have highly transferable skills?” Sort of. I wouldn’t call it “transferable skills” though. It’s more like a specialized ability that can be accessed innately and used in any given context: much like an algorithm that runs an AI programme 😛

Speaking of AI

Robotics, machine learning and AI are all remarkable pieces of a complex yet accelerated puzzle. Will or can marketing roles be fully automated? Do the Woodstock ravers really understand the profound implications of  a hyper digitized mode of existence? Are they sure *AI-powered marketing* isn’t just a flavour of the month? Are they “lapsed” enough to decipher the codes written on the wall?


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