[00:00:00] Matt Bailey: Well, hey, welcome to another edition of the Endless Coffee Cup single shot episode. I hope that you’re having a great summer so far. In this episode, I’m going to answer a question that I get a lot, both from people looking to get into digital marketing, but I also get this request every year at the beginning of the year, uh, I get it from businesses, from conferences. Here’s the question. What are the digital trends for the next year that we need to know?
[00:00:49] Bumper Intro-Outro: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture, and media for our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat, and thanks for joining.
[00:01:22] Matt Bailey: Every January the content calendars tell us that it’s time for predictive trends articles. We are then inundated with the industry seers, prognosticators, and general content fluff of trends that will rise in the next year. But I have yet to see an article series that explores if any of these trend predictions actually come true or if they just simply go away to be forgotten, like most trends do over time. It’s why they’re called trends.
But what makes me question this entire genre of predicting trends, uh, generation changing fashions or anything like that is that they always surround tactics. Tactics – the activities and the fashions that change with the wind, or at least the next algorithm change. But these tactics have to be based in something, some strategy that drives the goal or purpose.
And that’s what made me develop this. Well, that and training more than 5,000 marketers from 100 different organizations over the past 2 years. We are so focused on peering into the future and guessing about what is possibly coming next, and we never stop to think and ask, “Well, what hasn’t changed?” Of course, this isn’t helped by the combination of clickbait headlines, the 24-hour news cycle. We are redefining engagement and also devaluing the value of human experience. What’s next? It’s driven by a passion to stay relevant and I think a fear of missing out.
Job postings everywhere list proficiency, not just with social media, but also the latest channels like TikTok and Telegram. But what is the skill that’s required to be proficient? Is the core skill knowing how to make a post, or is it knowing how to build an audience? Because those are two completely different things. The knowledge of how to post is a tactic specific to a channel. Building an audience requires a knowledge of organizational objectives, strategy, audience targeting, messaging, and measurement.
In fact, building an audience is not just a skill that’s restricted to a particular channel or a singular activity. If you want to jump on the latest social channels as they happen, then you’ll want someone who is flexible, adaptable, and able to create new tactics based on your organizational strategy. It’s someone who can create without having to ask questions the entire way, but they’re able to synthesize each new challenge and apply their experience into the new channel.
Do you hear how I’m explaining this? A tactic is something that can be taught, learned, and acquired in a very short amount of time. A skill is something that people acquire and refine over time, and it enables them to adapt across situations by observing, analyzing, researching, and applying what they’ve learned as they synthesize previous information into a new understanding. It won’t matter what new channels come along as they’ll develop the tactics within a few hours to a few days. What enables people to do this is the skill of learning.
But somehow these job postings and the emphasis on tactics, it’s not only in the employment listings, but it’s in media. It’s all over the place. It’s the popular news. It gets the clicks. It’s the webinars. At the beginning of every year people always want to know what’s next.
Yet isn’t the skill and the competency that never changes, it gains experience, it increases in wisdom, and through that, has an uncanny foresight that’s more valuable to an organization rather than simply knowing the next trend that may not last past the next quarter. Recent surveys and industry studies have shown the exact opposite of the predicted trends. What they show is that there is a widening gap between what employers and companies need and the skills that people have.
I also see this gap in our education system. Digital and media literacy is only starting to become part of the basic curriculum. I recently completed a master’s degree in educational technology and education design. I was shocked at how many lectures and texts still referred to Web 2.0. These are educators teaching educators, but the digitally focused content was already outdated.
And it wasn’t all bad. The most valuable courses I took were on learning models and creating structured instructional design and learning experience. And for those, I had to study texts and research that, some were decades old, some were a few years old, but they were proven strategies with significant research and a depth of knowledge behind them. They were valuable because they taught how to think, how to approach, plan, and measure, and ultimately to create a sustainable learning objective.
From my observation, it, it just seems like we get too technical. And as soon as we get too technical, we very quickly put an expiration date on ourselves. We’re outdated, but developing skills that last, these are the same skills that create a sustainable business, that develop profitable campaigns, and create resilient teams. Learning the fundamentals and practical applications of learning was the most valuable content I gained from the program. It wasn’t the Web 2.0 tactics that were outdated probably before the course was published.
The OMCP, Online Marketing Certification Professional, is a digital skills certification organization launched in 2010. Currently there’s over 900 universities that teach to OMCP competency standards. Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Dell, Home Depot, and many other organizations look for OMCP certified digital marketers in their hiring process.
And they recently conducted a digital marketing role delineation study, asking professionals, “Where do you spend your time?” Now, this covered digital marketing professionals across all major disciplines. Analytics, social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital advertising, conversion optimization, email marketing, and mobile marketing. Across all of these disciplines, how do people spend their time?
It was very surprising. 25% of people’s time in digital marketing professions, 25% of their time is spent presenting and communicating strategy, practice, and results. 25% of their time. Another 20% of time on average is spent in traditional marketing activities. Audience targeting, persona development, market research, content planning, scheduling, and analysis. 20% of time is spent doing those activities. 15% of time is spent on content development and copywriting. Tactical discipline-related tasks made up 10% or less of the actual time spent on digital marketing.
[00:10:00] Let me very quickly go through that again. Of the digital marketing professionals surveyed across hundreds of companies, most of their time is spent presenting and communicating, 20% of the time is spent with traditional marketing activities, 15% on content development, tactical discipline-related tasks are 10% or less. OMCP Chairperson Mike Stebbins summarized the findings and responses, “Managers will be hiring for soft skills, testing for hard skills, and training for emerging practices.”
And the OMCP identified skill gaps from the study. Here they are. Number one identified skills gap, customer experience. Number two, marketing and sales collaboration. Now, I could do a whole episode on this and I might, of how, how marketing and sales don’t get along. They don’t have the same objectives, and when they don’t work together, you don’t have an effective organization. Number three was understanding the entire campaign stack and team management and four was analysis. The ability to turn data into action. And let me tell you, my friend, dear listener, that is probably one of the most identified skills gaps in our industry.
And we see this also, this was done recently with LinkedIn. Um, and they identified the top soft skills in demand. It was very interesting that both the OMCP and LinkedIn hiring in their global talent trends report list very similar, the top five emphasis on soft skills or human skills that are in demand.
Number one, the ability to persuade. Number two, the ability to take data into decisions. Number three, writing skills. Number four, traditional marketing. What that means is basically persuasion. Number five, creating tactics from strategy without guidance. See these, I, I look at this, these five things, these are human skills. These are analysis. These are critical and creative thinking skills that develop a team and an organization. It’s not an emphasis on the next trend that we need to know in order to jump on it. These are skills that develop a sustainable marketing focus for an organization.
LinkedIn’s global talent trends, uh, here’s the quote, “91% of talent professionals agree that soft skills are the most important for the future of recruiting in HR.” And they list the top three most critical skills listed by employers on LinkedIn. Think critically and creatively, collaborate effectively, and adapt quickly. Boy, these are all just amazing. When you start pulling back and looking at what hasn’t changed rather than what’s going to change, I think you find a more solid foundation of the skills that are necessary for an organization to grow. And also, for anyone looking to get into the job market, it doesn’t rather, matter whether you want to get into marketing or any other type of profession, these skills will take you a long way.
Over the next few single shot episodes, I’m going to examine seven trends that were valuable two decades ago when digital started and, and some have been around much longer than that, and I’m going to explain why they will never go out of style. The first trend I’m going to cover is digital and media literacy. Understanding how to read beyond the headlines rather than being swayed by every different headline that’s being pushed on us and understanding how to read deeper into articles to find the true information.
Number two, writing. Not only writing to persuade, but understand how to write for humans in a digital format. Number three, analytics. As I said, this is probably one of the biggest skill gaps in our industry and through the, this is also my number one most requested training, it’s probably the biggest demand of companies for their marketing teams to understand.
Number four, UX and CX, user experience and customer experience. That all gets to conversion optimization. How do we create a better experience for the visitor? And in doing so, how do we increase task completion? How do we understand how, how neuromarketing techniques can also enhance our ability to create better messaging, assist the visitor as they navigate through our sites, our apps, and anything that we present in front of them?
Number five is just the advantage of experience. People who have experience in analytics and how you can develop that experience within your organization, and through that, develop better teams. Number six is presentation skills. Let’s go back to that OMCP role delineation study where 25% of a digital marketing professional’s time is typically spent presenting and communicating. We’ve got to get better at communicating clearly, concisely, persuasively, and also using the same language as stakeholders, sea level executives, managers, presenting not just what’s going on or what’s happening or showing people how busy you are, but showing people the economic impact of your efforts.
And finally, the ability and also the culture of asking questions. I’m sure you, if you’re a longtime listener of Endless Coffee Cup, this won’t be of any surprise to you. We’ve done a number of episodes simply about asking questions. We’re going to dive a lot deeper into that. So, thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed your cup of coffee with me today.
And please don’t forget to join me on the Endless Coffee Cup Slack channel. I’d love to continue the conversation with you beyond the podcast. Look for Endless Coffee Cup on Slack, or look at the show page and the link will be there. Have a great day listener. Look forward to talking with you again soon.