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What I Want Marketers to Know: Robert Rose, Marketing Expert, Speaker, & Author

Michael Becker
Michael Becker

If I had a nickel for every inspirational, beneficial, or useful thing I’ve learned from Robert Rose, I’d be a millionaire. Over the past three or four years, I’ve learned more about marketing, CX, and content experience from Robert (and his various educational outlets like The Content Advisory, CMI’s “This Old Marketing”, and his most recent book, Killing Marketing) than I’ve learned from any other person, publication, course, or class in my life.

So as not to sugarcoat it, Robert is one of the foremost marketing strategy, audience building, and content experience experts in the world.

He’s sharing his thoughts on the current state and future of digital marketing.

Location: Seat 4A – 35,000 feet above you at the moment

Current Role: Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory

One word that best describes how you view the state of marketing today: Challenging

Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today:

I’ve been in marketing for 30 years. I started in the entertainment industry – working in marketing for television. I transitioned in the late 1990s and began working in digital marketing and helping entertainment and media companies build their digital media strategies – including web sites. Then, I joined with a few friends to start a software company in the content management space. After eight years of venture startups, implementing content strategies for hundreds of clients, Friday afternoon board meetings, and high growth – I discovered that I had inadvertently build a Content Marketing Strategy. I started speaking and writing on the topic. And it was through that journey that I met this guy Joe Pulizzi who was talking about Content Marketing – he from the publishing side and me from the practitioner side. I joined with him during the early days of Content Marketing Institute – and have been partnered with CMI ever since – evangelizing the operational aspects of a content marketing strategy. Since the acquisition of CMI two years ago, I’ve started The Content Advisory as a consulting firm, helping enterprises develop intelligent content strategies.

What do you wish CX practitioners knew (but you’re pretty sure they don’t)?

That content should be as strategic a function in the business as accounting, legal, sales or any of the other practices that we see as being core to the operation of a business. Content truly is one of the last areas of business for which there is typically no formal, documented and devoted strategic approach.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by marketers today?

It’s the same as it has been for the last 100 years – measurement. Marketing has always (and will always) be a blend of art and science. The last 18 years of trying to make it more of a data-driven science hasn’t really done the practice any favors. So, ultimately, marketers have one job – they have to sell a story both internally and externally, as to why they are needed in the business.

“The biggest challenge faced by marketers today? Meaurement. Marketing has always been (and always will be) a blend of art and science… marketers have to sell a story both internally and externally as to why they’re needed in the business.”

“The biggest challenge faced by marketers is measurement. #Marketing has always been a blend of art & science,” says @Robert_Rose      CLICK TO TWEET

How can they overcome this challenge?

Embrace the chaos. Marketing today is about having the ability to evolve – quickly. It used to be that we would look at the trends – and look to define what it was we could evolve into. Now, the changes in the operational aspects of our beloved practice are changing too quickly.

Now, it’s important to just have the ability to change. This means working to restructure out of the siloes we’ve built, learning to focus on slowing down our creative and content production processes (and get better at creating customer experiences), and ultimately developing goal-based measurement strategies that demonstrate how doing #AllTheThings provides strategic value to our business. It’s no small task – but this is why I describe the environment today as “challenging.”

If you could tell all marketers just one thing, what would it be?

Get out of the constant, and endless software purchase, implementation and configuration cycle, and start focusing more on how your teams are developing valuable experiences for customers given what you have – not what you could have. Slow down. Measure twice, then cut once. Develop the big idea first – and then execute it quickly.

Technology has already transformed marketing in so many ways. How do you see tech continuing to revolutionize the marketer’s role?

“In many cases, technology currently doing more harm than it is good. Technology has been amazing in helping marketers to scale efforts, develop efficiencies, and wring out the optimal results to delivery of messaging to audiences. However, it’s also caused a situation where we spend more time working with technology and data and dashboards than we do on creating the messages we are putting into the technology. So, yeah, we’re optimizing the experience – but we’re feeding that experience with sub-optimal content because we’re so pressed for time.”

“Technology helps scale efforts, develop efficiencies, & optimize messaging – but we’re often spending more time working w/ tech, #data, & dashboards than creating the messages we’re putting into the machines,” says @Robert_Rose      CLICK TO TWEET

Much of this is that “proof of life” scenario that so many marketers live in these days.  We’re so worried about whether the next campaign is going to incrementally move the needle up and to the right, that we forget about whether we should take a bigger risk on a bigger idea.

What are you currently reading, or what would you recommend for marketers?

I just finished reading (for the second time) Rita Gunther McGrath’s The End of Competitive Advantage.  I loved that book. And, I’m currently diving deep into the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework as it has such an important place in the way that we approach Audience Persona Development.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see __________answer these same questions.

Carla Johnson, keynote speaker and author.

Big thanks to Robert for joining us and sharing what he wants marketers to know. We’ll also be publishing Robert’s Marketer + Machine podcast interview in the next several weeks, so stay tuned.

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