If you are reading this blog, odds are you fall in the middle of the dark blue curve. White collar jobs that are "middle of the pack" in the career ladder. And, I daresay, that is where most marketers sit.
With a hat tip to Dan Pink for the original citation, I quote in full:
In the Wall Street Journal, David Wessel writes about research showing "strong demand for high-end workers," increasing demand "for some workers at the low-end of the pay scale," and "a sagging middle."
What's going on? In part, the answer is the core argument of A Whole New Mind [note: Dan's book]
Routine white-collar work is being shipped overseas and reduced to lines of code in software. But work that is high concept and high touch is becoming more valuable.
In other words, it's best to be a designer or software architect or boundary-crossing manager. But there's also some economic security for people "who wipe brows in hospitals, care for kids, clear tables at bistros and stand guard in office-building lobbies," because that work, too, is hard to outsource and automate.
It's the people in the middle -- those doing rule-based, left-brain, get-the-right-answer work, who are feeling the pain. Take a look at the chart to the right, which appears in Wessel's story. It's a classic well curve -- low in the center, high on the sides -- and it could be the shape of things to come.
You see, most marketers today either
- came of age during the high-tide of industrial-era where campaigns, impressions, reach, and conversion rates mattered most (see Book Review: Cluetrain Manifesto for more background)
- or were taught in B-school by professors whose entire paradigm is based upon the heavily metric'd world of marketing (see Sergio Zyman's book on this one)
Only thing is...that's not how it works anymore. Hence the "well curve." No wonder marketers are having an identity crisis.
Because each and everyone of your (and my) customers is More Powerful Than Microsoft in her ability to influence the adoption of your product. A lone blogger can make or break a brand reputation. So, if you come with the idea of outspending, targeting, and campaigning in a broad stroke, you are going down the wrong path.
One of my earliest positions was with an e-commerce web development shop called Snickelways. It was maybe not the best name ever, but the idea that Andy (one of the founders) had was spot on (definition).
E-commerce would enable us to return to the customer-producer intimacy of the ye olde time marketplace in a way that a HUGE marketing department could never do. It was about relationships on a personal level.
And, interestingly enough, that is what Web 2.0 (or whatever you want to call it) is about in many ways.
So, how does this relate to your job and the job of marketers everywhere and at Microsoft?
- Well, for one thing, ask yourself on a daily basis, "what part of what I did today could be outsourced to [insert your country of choice]?" and then work to eliminate that from your daily tasks.
- Then, ask yourself, what can I do to create a "higher touch, higher concept" (ideally in a scalable way) relationship with my customers and prospects?
Now, here's the hard part and the real paradigm shift. Not all of it can be measured. (See the 2nd video here, in particular).
There's part Yin and part Yang. Part Community Building (your next job here) and Part Strategic Marketer.
In Part 2, we'll start to drill down on each and over time demonstrate how it will be applied at Microsoft.