7 Daunting Challenges Facing Marketers


Marketing today remains a great challenge, in large part because of the consistently changing technology and media landscape. Informational sources (conferences, blogs, etc.) consistently address these challenges yet the issues persist.

It may be time to take a step back on a macro level and look at how education and information sources are meeting these challenges.

Here are the seven daunting difficulties for today’s communicators, each followed by an idea or three on how to address them. Please add your own thoughts.

1) Technology Adoption and Automation: I’ve talked quite a bit about marketing automation and software. Yet, balancing human intelligence, strategy, and frankly, likeability with the precision of data and analysis gleaned from Big Data is an ongoing challenges.

There’s a great deal of professional fear with technology. Some of this deals with nomenclature and the failure of tech and social media firms to make their products easily accessible to the common person. We also need information and education to get much more specific here, refine roles, better define which data sets matter, as well as how humans can best master these new evolving tools

2) Integration: Marketing in the Round (co-authored with Gini Dietrich) has been out for a year, and generally most marketers agree that integration should occur in marketing, but it remains a huge issue. People still think in single silos within their own domain, and are not stretching to create better results for their organizations by teaming with other communicators.

Death by Silo by @gapingvoid

Frankly, this is an issue for the C-Suite. Until CEOs and presidents demand successful integration, it’s going to be hit or miss depending on the level and training of the lead marketer in each organization. The good new is leading educational institutions are teaching integration now.

3) Rapidly Evolving Media: Media evolution remains a huge issue. It used to be you could afford to become comfortable for a short period of time. Even the first wave of major social networks (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter) had some staying power.

Today, media evolves so quickly that volatility is part of the game. What worked last year, won’t this year, and the same goes for 2013. Look no further than the decrease Facebook has suffered in tactical viability for some types of business.

Marketers need to move away from channel specific strategies, and adapt a truly liquid approach to communications. Meaning, deliver a complete content and engagement effort to serve stakeholders wherever they are, and how they like to receive information in that specific medium. Further, businesses should adapt an attitude of constant experimentation.

4) Transition to the Omnipresent Internet: The Internet is accessible everywhere (mobile, at storefront, augmented reality) now, or close to it. The current responsive design movement addresses the shift momentarily, but the market will soon discover that making one size fit all web pages may be palatable, we need custom environments to differentiate.

Scenario building and mapping content to access method and corresponding usage pattern is the right course here. There’s nothing wrong with a few mobile specific pages. As marketing IT budgets increase, developing specific experiences for each type of medium will best serve stakeholders and brands alike.

5) Video and Visual Skills Missing: The visual revolution is here, and most small and medium businesses are not competing effectively. Some of that is financial resources, but most of it is training and skill set.


Today’s communicators are writers, pitchers (PR), or networkers. They don’t think visually, pun intended. The next generation of communicators will have a combined skill set of visual and textual creativity. We need to get them into the workforce quickly. Seasoned executives would benefit from training as well.

6) Nurturing Skills for Inbound Marketing: A majority of leads expected to come via online content and other forms inbound marketing. To succeed communicators have to understand customer experiences and needs, and build more intelligent conversion paths on their sites, in call centers, and in stores. Using data analysis and intelligent contents, nurturing customers should become more customized and targeted towards niches.

Education and experience will provide a better understanding of customer service, email marketing, the role of landing pages, and the creation of value-add content for core community members. Communicators steeped in broadcast or public social media paths will need to expand their knowledge base.

7) Stuck in Social Media/Community Management: Perhaps this is a function of the social media expert/blogger, but the general conversation online seems to be lagging behind the challenges that CMOs face. Single person or small social media consultancies under 10 don’t deal with enterprise level issues like this. Instead, they are often limited in conversation to their tactical area of expertise.

So what’s the fix? I’m not sure other than the tech companies who market solutions and analyst firms like SiriusDecisions that fill in the thought leadership void. Social media centric thought leaders will keep panning their networked wares, and stay pidgeon holed in the niche.

What do you think about these challenges facing the marketing sector?

A version of this post ran originally on the Vocus blog.