Hub bookshelf: Competencies for the platform marketer

What will tomorrow’s successful digital platform marketer need to understand?

How to segment an audience? How to deliver a smooth customer journey all the way to conversion? How to get a handle on attribution? Sure, but after all, these are pre-digital concepts, and we’re now very much in a digital world. In The Rise of the Platform Marketer (John Wiley & Sons, 2015), Merkle authors Craig Dempster and John Lee–together with specialist contributors–paint a comprehensive picture of the technical and strategic spaces in which a marketer now needs to feel at home.

And let’s be honest: it’s a little intimidating at first. Not least because each of the nine competencies the book identifies is explored by a different expert author.  How–you might feel–can I be fully versed in half of these fields, let alone all of them, and still have time to do my job? Dempster and Lee are candid about the challenge, writing that it’s necessary to “cultivate an elevated set of capabilities, tools, metrics and processes, along with a new set of skills to utilize them.” The platform marketer not only understands traditonal, pre-digital concepts–like CRM, of course, which is where you’d expect Merkle authors to be rooted–but has “the knowledge and innovative forethought to thrive in the ever-expanding digital audience platform environment.”

This is not, they rightly say, “for the faint of heart or complacent.” 

While this isn’t a book for outright beginners by any means, the general tone is introductory. It will serve, however, as a valuable check-list of skills–including skills yet to be acquired–for anyone bold enough to have embarked on the journey.

The heart of the book tackles a series of key topics:

  1. Identity management;
  2. Audience management;
  3. Privacy;
  4. Media optimization;
  5. Channel optimization;
  6. Experience design and creation;
  7. Audience platform utilization;
  8. Measurement and attribution;
  9. The marketing technology stack.

It’s a good list, although privacy (the “privacy paradox” they call it) is really a peripheral–albeit important–issue which arises as a result of knowing how to identify, manage, and create experiences for prospects. Similarly, the tech stack is essential, but knowing how to put it together is not really a marketing challenge.

Indeed, Matthew Mobley’s contributed chapter, “Marketing Technology Stack,” doesn’t attempt to explain how marketers–with or without IT assistance–need to go about screening, evaluating, onboarding and integrating martech solutions. There’s no mention of vendors–even generically–and if there’s a discussion of cloud computing I missed it. Rather, Mobley sketches the conceptual outline of the marketing stack as such–the “data lake,” data and identity management, the analytics platform, with a tip of the hat to “connective tissue” (integration). 

Better are the chapters on identity and audience management which give a good account of the basic challenges and how to meet them. It doesn’t shy away from pointing out some difficulties too: segmentation, for example, is futile without the ability precisely to target the segments, while cross-device identity management is “still maturing”–something of an understatement.

A standalone book, of course, could be written on each of these topics–and probably has been–but Dempster and Lee have produced a highly useful overall guide to what digital marketing means today.

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