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DMA Roundup: Beware the Silo Career

The Direct Marketing Association’s annual trade show was in Chicago, and Modern was proud to both exhibit and be a Media Partner. Besides meeting attendees from all over the world, we were able to roam the halls and attend sessions that, for me, drove home a consistent message.

Careers are becoming more specialized.

For many younger professionals, the opportunities to engage in diverse marketing disciplines are becoming more scarce. Most of the businesses at DMA were service/support companies: data, marketing automation, internet/email complete “solutions,” and the like. And, naturally, the marketing teams were mainly using digital marketing to promote their services.

As I chatted with these professionals, a consistent theme emerged: they’re developing skills which are limited in scope and very narrow in responsibility. For example, I met a young woman whose only work product was to test and refine Google Ad Words and Ad Groups. While she might become an expert in this arena, it doesn’t prepare her for knitting other channels into a comprehensive demand generation plan. Another example is a young man that was focused entirely on email and social media. Email is terrible for acquisitions, and social media is notorious for having an untraceable ROI.

What happens to their career path 3‐5 years from now? How do they effectively lead demand activity that produces results and payback for the budget? How can they diversify their experience to become better leaders and managers?

I’m not sure how to answer this, but I know that with my own team, I try to cross‐pollinate as much as practical. One of my responsibilities is to help prepare them for the changing natures of marketing departments and tactics. Marketers with a wider breadth and depth of learning are simply more valuable to an organization.

My recommendation to younger marketers on a “silo” career path is to find areas in the organization to expand their experience. Take classes, attend seminars (our own Keith Goodman presented a very well‐attended Direct Mail Crash Course), and ask managers how they can get involved in other marketing disciplines. In 3‐5 years, they’ll be glad they did.

By Christopher Foster, VP of Marketing for Modern Postcard

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