I have been trying to utilize LinkedIn more and more these days. I know there is value there - I just haven't quite cracked the nut in terms of how best to use it.
One of the things I have started doing is perusing the "Answers" section and providing my own take on some of the questions presented. I find it not only allows me to flex my marketing muscles, but also gives me some vision into what some of the pressing issues are that are facing brand practitioners today.
A question that I saw this morning was from Bryan Fuhr, Group Director at Organic. His question was "How has the job of a brand manager changed in the past 10 years?" I took some time to answer his question from my perspective. I then realized that the answer might make a nice blog post. So, here it is (at least this is one use of LinkedIn! It got me to do a blog post!). What are your thoughts on the subject?
I would suggest that the job of a brand manager has changed in a number of ways in the past 10 years:
- The shear number of options of how a brand manager can deliver messaging to consumers/customers has changed dramatically. Media planning used to be easy - TV, Print, Radio or Outdoor. Now, in addition to those, there is online, social media, word of mouth, and more. There are also countless more complexities even in the old media. For example, TV has been complicated by the proliferation of channels, the advent of DVRs, and the shifting nature of product placement. Net-net, the act of planning how to deliver messaging that cuts through the clutter and delivers a memorable and persuasive message is far more complicated today than it was 10 years ago.
- Metrics and Measuring. Over the past 10 years, there has been significant pressure placed on the CMO and the marketing department to provide proof that the dollars they are spending are delivering acceptable returns on investment. This was difficult before, but has become none the easier given the aforementioned explosion in potential advertising mediums. Couple this with the emphasis put on the unpredictable world of innovation and new product development, and a great deal of the brand manager's time has now been dedicated to proving that what they do is worthwhile and, in the process, protecting budgets. This creates a hard balancing act when it comes to the also important need of taking calculated risks and trying new things. Many of the newest, hottest trends in advertising and promotion are also the hardest to measure with any sort of accuracy. A dilemma for sure.
- Consumer/Customer participation in the process. It used to be that, barring traditional market research, the marketing process was pretty much a 1-way street. Brand Managers led the communication process which sent messages to the market. These messages were then graded based on the resulting sales results and consumer perceptions - measured long after the activity took place. Today, the market has developed the expectation of being integrally involved in the process from the beginning to the end and there has resulted a need for the entire process to become a 2-way real-time conversation. This has required today's brand managers to become far more flexible and reactive than they needed to be 10 years ago. They also must be more comfortable in giving up elements of control - not an easy task for the typical type-A personalities drawn to the profession.
- Due to changing dynamics in human resources, the brand management process has become far more consensus driven than it was 10 years ago. Today, everyone - from sales to finance to operation to manufacturing - has the expectation that their voice will be heard and that they will have input in the entire process. This requires the brand manager to have a deft touch in managing a wide range of personalities and keeping them engaged and fulfilled as they each move their respective projects towards the brand's common goal. This is not to say that this was not required 10 years ago. However, I would submit that 10 years ago people in traditional support roles did not have the expectation - nor the desire - to be involved in the overall strategic process. This, in my opinion, has been a great development in terms of the overall results. Nonetheless, it does require greater people-management skills from the brand manager.
So, the following skills are incredibly important to brand managers today:
- quant skills
- people management / leadership
- consumer/customer-centric mentality
- willingness to take calculated risks
- ability to identify and evaluate trends
Some of the traits of unsuccessful brand managers are:
- lack of people skills
- subject to emotional swings
- not enough quant skills"