Ask the expert - Hybrid marketers: What does it take? Part 4/5

Written by Simon Ensor

As part of the CIM’s ‘Rise of the Hybrid Marketer’ speaker event, we have carried out a series of Q&As with senior marketers to discuss what it takes to be a hybrid marketer.

For our fourth instalment, we spoke to Aisha Khan, founder and director at Consilio.

Aisha has a reputable marketing career, from starting out as a researcher at MTV to setting up her own marketing agency this year.

How did you start your career in marketing?

I had an unusual start to marketing. I was a biomedical science graduate, destined for medical school, when I decided that spending another six years at university was not how I wanted to remember my 20s.

I decided to stay at university for a year to complete a master’s in advertising and marketing then landed a market research role at MTV before securing a marketing executive role with a major fuel oil business, where I completed my CIM diploma. The rest, as they say, is history.

Marketing is both a science and an art, and for me, the ‘science’ was always the interesting part. Understanding why people engage with your product or service and what makes them share that experience with others. This was fascinating when I first started marketing and over 20 years on, I am still fascinated by it.

Take us through your career journey, how did you become such a marketing advocate?

Brands were trying to understand the role of digital marketing and e-commerce and how they fit into their business model in the early 2000s, so it was a great time to be in marketing.

I focused on getting as much experience as possible across all marketing disciplines for both B2B and B2C brands. Every three years I outlined a new goal that helped me stay focused on what I wanted to achieve.

The latter part of my career was where I really started to help drive some big marketing projects that would help shape the way organisations would sell their products and market themselves in new and existing territories.

I was also fortunate enough to manage quite large marketing teams, an experience that has been invaluable to this day.

At the start of 2018, I decided to set up my marketing consulting agency that now gives me the platform to take all the learning from the last 20+ years and offer a flexible solution based on my clients’ needs.

What does a hybrid marketer mean to you?

There are a lot of different definitions out there about what a hybrid marketer is. For me, it’s a marketer that understands the world through the lens of their customers and then knows how to connect with them.

The hybrid marketer should able to understand the impact of each customer touchpoint and the impact that touchpoint has on commercial deliverables and brand strategy. At the same time keeping one eye on the future to ensure you are evolving and staying ahead of the competition. That’s one busy marketer!

What skills are required by the next generation of marketers considering there is such a constant change?

There is an ever-growing list of skills that the ‘modern-day marketer’ needs to have. I always go by the five below will keep you in good stead:

People skills:

Your internal audience is just as important as the external one. The work we do as marketers impacts all departments from finance to supply chain. Get to know all the key people in the different departments within your organisations.

Arrange cross-department meetings during the planning phase of your campaigns (if this is not already in place) and get feedback from them once the campaign/project has ended so improvements can be made if required.

Content marketing:

You will interact with your customers with some form of content, whether that is written or visual. Understand the link between the four key content areas: content strategy, content creation, content optimisation and content amplification. Know the role that each play and the impact each can have when done properly.

Customer experience:

It’s an old cliché, but it will always serve you well to be ‘all over’ your customers, understand their path to purchase, their pain points and why they are buying from you. Social, mobile and e-commerce are three areas that will impact how customers will rate and view your brand experience, so ensure you know the role of each and how they impact your customers’ experience.

Analytical skills:

There is more data available than ever for marketers at a touch of a button. Get into the habit of analysing data from your digital channel and campaigns to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Keep an eye on market trends, industry marketing reports and consumer research.

Technical knowledge:

Technology is driving huge advancements in marketing at an exponential rate. It is not necessarily a recommendation to learn how to code but understand how technology is shaping how customers will interact with brands in future; how advancements in AI will help cut down the more mundane marketing tasks; and how e-commerce will evolve as new platforms are introduced. You don’t need to keep an eye on everything but definitely stay informed on technologies that will impact your customers. 

Commercial acumen:

Understand the impact and contribution of your work against business goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, spend time with your line manager and finance team to understand ‘the numbers’. Most people are willing to help!

What advice would you give to a fresh marketer?

Network, network, network!

Marketing is a fast-paced and competitive industry with a high level of networking. Find a couple of networking events that allow you to meet other marketers. CIM hold a lot of networking events throughout the year. There are also networking groups for marketers in specific industries as well as more niche groups such as women in marketing.

Build a strong network from day one - it will come in handy to know people both within the industry and in organisations when you are building your career. I am still working with people that I worked with for over 20 years.

More from this series

Check out our blog to read more of our ‘ask the expert - hybrid marketer: what does it take’ Q&As.   

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