By Peter O'Neill

Several of my recent client engagements have been about the social media skills/resources that will be required in field marketing in the next years. While this is something I am already working on with an empirical survey, that will take more time to complete, so watch this space for those details. Here are my initial thoughts, tested with several tech marketing practitioners already.

Firstly, my stake in the ground — I think Field Marketing’s focus will morph from customer acquisition to relationship management, from demand generation to demand management; it will be all about lead nurturing.

We’ll need to reduce our base of pure marketing professionals (events/marcom people), by automating and semi-centralizing (from country to regional level) marketing campaign management. And we’ll need to increase local resources to engage with local bloggers, communities, prospects, and customers. This will include a mix of hiring expert people (strong consultative sales reps looking for an easier time, experienced support people, current product champion field marketers) and leveraging local journalistic resources. More importantly, we will also need to re-engineer our collateral to a marketing asset library of shorter and more direct, but less hard-selling, pieces that we can leverage into the lead-nurturing programs.

Even more importantly, and this is where most of us need to start right away, we need to develop better social marketing skills across the organization. Sure, you can hire a boatload of social-savvy Gen Yers, but there are actually not that many of them around, and it will take a lot of time before they are familiar enough with your customers’ needs (notice I didn’t say your products!). The more productive route is to cross-train existing employees to improve their social marketing efforts — turn them into that “Marketing Concierge” I keep talking about.

My colleague Sean Corcoran wrote the “Developing Social Marketing Skills” report last October, which offers a lot of insight on this topic. Here are some highlights from the report:

  • It all starts with hands-on experience.
  • Marketers must manage the blurry lines between professional and personal life.
  • Listening kicks off all social marketing efforts.
  • Customer relationship skills are key to maintaining conversations.
  • New skills can't detract from core marketing capabilities.
  • First identify what social skills you have in your organization.
  • Develop a brown bag series where interactive marketers share knowledge.
  • Create an ongoing education program that brings together internal and external experts.
  • Develop a process that encourages members to teach each other on an ongoing basis.

I’m enjoying our conversations, so keep your comments, inquiries, and emails coming.   

Always keeping you informed!