A common complaint of today's youth is - my parents can't help me decide on a career option in my chosen field of work. And if they have chosen a career that interests them, their parents can understand neither head nor tail of it.
In the 'olden' days there were doctors, engineers, teachers, government officers and bankers. Explaining the profession to others was easy. Today, each discipline has layers of super-specialisation and silos of 'core competence'. While this has helped raise the bar in every sphere of human activity, do all team members in each 'specialist team' know the 'Big Picture' " the specific role they play in the larger ecosystem? Generalists never had this problem even as they learnt many specialisations.
Let's take the example of marketing and advertising - say an expert in the team has a worldview, (s)he knows the brand's context much better and can contribute to the brand much more. Here's a depiction of a wide worldview an SEO expert could have:
(Ecosystems of Trade/ Media/ Government/Sports/Entertainment/Producers of raw material)
(Competitors " Direct and Indirect/ Trade/ Consumers/ Legislation/ R&D...)
Company General Management
(Marketing/ Sales/ Finance/Accounts/HR/Tech and Systems...)
(4Ps and beyond/Brand Budgets/ROI)
(Advertising/ PR/ DM/ Events/ Sponsorships/ Activation/ POS...)
(Online + Offline)
(Website/ Search/ Social/ Mobile/ Display/ iVideo/ Content/ Influencer Marketing)
(SEO/ SEM/Clicks to Leads)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
When an expert has both depth and width of knowledge, we have the best of both worlds. The understanding of the wider context of their work helps them break out of their silos. Empathy for the ups and downs of business, the pressure marketers face managing brands and brand budgets and the different elements of the marketing and communications mix are some of the direct benefits. Experts also get the perspective and opportunity to work across disciplines and discover interesting career options. All this leads to a better evocation of 'what' they do and 'why' they do what they do " and a simpler evocation of what they bring to the table.
Let's attempt two evocations of some well-known career choices: one with the depth of an expert and the other 'with a wide angle lens'.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Advertising through Search Keyword Optimisation to deliver lower 'cost per click' and 'cost per lead' " pretty much the epitome of performance marketing.
SEM: Doing business with someone interested in us " a focused business interaction for every brand.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Organise brand content for the world's best organiser " the search engine. Optimise and iterate till page one of key search traffic is achieved.
SEO: We help brands get into everyday consumer conversations.
We help brands live the consumer's life in their language, filling their need gaps. ('Being Relevant', rather than 'Being Present')
Sports Marketing: We help brands leverage a sport " its sports (wo)men, the coaches, the teams, the sporting arenas, the playing kit, the experts (deciphering the game for audiences), the studios broadcasting the game... an endless array of possibilities for association and rub-off.
Sports Marketing: We encash your love for a sport into your love for a brand that supports that sport.
Influencer Marketing: We help brands get the top influencers in a category to endorse a brand among their followers.
Influencer Marketing: Digital Brand PR. We legitimise brand authority through someone who's at the top of his game.
Social Media Experts: We help brands manage their social media handles across all formats.
Social Media Experts: We help brands in social interactions and generate sales too.
Event Managers: We leverage events for brands " helping amplify, connect and engage with fans, viewers, spectators, consumers, and/or influencers.
Event Managers: We help brands deeply connect with consumers through events.
Media Planning and Buying: We help optimise resources and get the lowest prices for brands.
Media Planning/Buying: We are fund managers for brands.
I guess you get the point! No points for ensuring you carry the 'wide angle lens' every time you get into a marketing discussion.
Now try explaining your job to your kids!
(The author is co-founder and managing director, Mediant Communications, a new-age media and communications agency)