Broaden Your Digital Skills, Leave Specialization To Insects

Avinash Kaushik, one of my favorite bloggers, recently published an unmissable post titled: The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book. Change or Perish.

If you’re an Avinash fan you’ve likely already read it, but if not it’s worth a read (and a bookmark). I wanted to higlight one point he made that should resonate with Future Buzz readers:

Multiplicity: Competencies, Campaigns, Systems, Everything.

This is something we are most unprepared for.

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).

If you are a catalog company you have to be good at catalog marketing (as long as it continues to provide incremental revenue ), and you have to be good at NASCAR (as long as it provides incremental revenue), and you have to be good at Facebook, and you have to be good at email, and search, and YouTube and… a hundred other things. All while constantly optimizing your portfolio via controlled experiments .

You have to be good at sourcing your products and you have to be good at delivering them.

You have to be good at using clickstream and surveys and competitive intelligence and heuristic evaluations.

You have to be good on every device of every screen size in every country with a monetizable audience.

You have to be good at… many things all at the same time. For far too long we’ve been able to be successful by relying on our sheer strength on one thing. Catalog. Paid search. YouTube. Billboards. TV. With every passing day that strategy now ensures we are rejecting tons of revenue and tons of prospective customers.

Avinash’s thinking reinforces the breadth of skills we outlined in the modern marketing and PR pro fluency matrix. But beyond this, it reminds me of a quote from Robert A. Heinlein which we’ve referenced before:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

This quote provides a great analogy for how the modern communications professional should view the specific areas of focus within marketing.

Digital marketing is not new, and in fact is reaching a maturity point for many. It is not too much to ask of your team and partners to have a wide breadth of skills and able to think across platform / tactics to see the bigger picture of a client or brand on the web.

Certainly, you’ll be better at some things than others. The point is to try all of them so at the very least you’re able to effectively make strategic decisions and manage others for execution. Create a sandbox project if you’re limited to what you can do with your company – there really aren’t any excuses.

But if you wait for 2015, you’ll be far too late. In fact, if you’ve waited this long you’re already behind. Make 2012 the year you become more holistic in both your thinking and execution.

image credit: Shutterstock