Full-Stack Marketing for CxOs #1

Pressure on CxOs to motivate workers, manage growth and deliver superior results is stressful. We all know the other side of stress that come with innovation: opportunity. This makes any new digital marketing developments attractive. With every new development in digital marketing, CxOs want to understand and leverage this ability quickly.Full-Stack Marketing is this type of new development. The term has been around for a few years, but somehow the idea of integrating and managing multiple marketing roles into one is still in it’s infancy. I have my ideas why Full-Stack Marketing is slow in growth. If you see things differently, or think you know why the infancy is long, leave a comment.

Full-Stack Marketing and Marketing Specialists

A short introduction on what we have today. I divide digital marketing specialists into tool or task experts and generalists. Specific tool or task experts, SEO, PPC, content writers, social media managers, analytics and BI, sales funnel operators and alike are expert at one task. At the other end of specialization are the generalists. Generalists usually know a few tools and can do one general task; as building a website with some SEO and social promotion (WordPress with Twitter), or running an advertising campaign with analytics, landing pages and CRM integration (Hubspot). Generalists usually can handle a wide range of market sectors. They may specialize in B2B or B2C. They may also know more about specific products such as technology, business services, or retail clothing. Tool or task specialists usually can handle any product or market segment with a quick product (or market) introduction.

Full-Stack Marketing comes from the division between specialists, usually along tool lines. It usually means architecting a complete marketing solution such as a promotion campaign with new content, analytics and market research and even competitive analysis. Today, complete marketing solution design and operation falls on technical project managers. Sometimes it falls on the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). Some companies have traditional product marketing managers. These roles usually do not demand specific tool (skill), market segment (competitors), customer or deep marketing knowledge. This situation is changing with the introduction of Full-Stack Marketing. Now specialists in one or more skills are needed to optimize a whole solution. In the past a good PPC specialist simply needed to bring in clicks and refine the segmentation parameters to increase conversion (refine final funnel results). Now writing and promotion crosses specialty (single skill) boundaries: social media runs parallel to PPC, SEO and content writing. AI needs market and product knowledge to refine results.

Why Is Full-Stack Marketing Slow to Develop?

CxOs don’t want to lead if they can learn from someone else. They see Full-Stack Marketing as something to come in the future. But our situation is a little different. The digital transformation in marketing has hit a new complexity level. With the introduction of mobile devices, social media and artificial intelligence, the field (and profession) is more complex and also more competitive. Digital marketing in general is growing and morphing into the corporate mainstream. Gone are the days where a lone blogger on the beach influences simply by writing and publishing. Also gone are the days where a small group of product enthusiasts make seven figure income by selling on eBay or on Amazon’s affiliate program. Even small companies trying to write, curate and publish in a market segment need to be well financed, have knowledge in many tools and start with product and market knowledge. These needs come from both direct competition and from customer expectation. In the past a well written blog post was interesting, maybe even useful. The same goes for product review and opinion piece. Today we expect social media connections, a whole ecosystem resembling large portals or even social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Getting attention, making connections and then making an impression is harder than ever before.

With complexity and competition the solutions usually comes from what we have now. We simply do more, work harder, post faster and network wider. The increasing demand for traditional digital specialists SEO, PPC, and analytics-BI is one indication of people simply doing more. This partially accounts for one reason we don’t see faster Full-Stack Marketing growth. Another solution is to create project managers, system analysts, solution integrators and domain experts addressing the whole marketing operation. This idea is borrowed from IT systems and other professions. Solutions to handle complexity and increase specialization take time to develop. This is another reason why Full-Stack Marketing is slow to grow.

Is Full-Stack Marketing Too Abstract, Confusing or Frustrating?

One issue I see more than ten years ago (in digital marketing) is the confusion in what Full-Stack is and how to use the concept and techniques. This is true for every new technology innovation. I can still remember the first time I saw a spreadsheet on the IBM PC (Lotus 123). How does it do that? The same goes to how Google search and analytics was perceived in the beginning. Blogging when it started with Blogger was also a small revolution. I can be a web publisher! The change in marketing today comes like other new developments. There are no user manuals. Help in using two and three tools together does not come from one of the tool developers or sellers, it comes from the community of users helping each other. Before a profession or a defined skill is known and useful (and appreciated) pioneers have to accept low salaries and resistance to change. If you have not been in this situation you will quickly learn how to be the first in your sector to do something. Keep with me and start commenting. I have a feeling this new development in marketing is going to be one amazing experience.

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