Do young marketers bother to learn the basics?

Dave Trott recently wrote an article saying that today's young marketers are too busy chasing trends to bother to learn techniques like SWOT analysis.

We decided to ask past winners from our Brave Awards and Excellence Awards, as well as a few rising star marketers from our Ones to Watch professional development programme for their thoughts.

Marketing Manager, Akzonobel
Brave Awards: One to Watch winner 2019

No I do not agree with that statement as a whole and would reword it to read that Young marketing execs are interested in keeping up with trends and, as a result, are frequently updating and re-evaluating their brands threats and opportunities. The basics in any good marketing department are not optional and young marketing leaders will value and promote the use of basic tools such as a SWOT. I strongly believe, and I know I’m not alone in my peer group, in the importance taking the time in the upfront to move ahead with pace and agility throughout the rest of the project/campaign.

Senior Marketing Manager, Chelsea FC
Young Marketing Leader of the Year 2016

No. I personally disagree that young marketers today only care about new trends in marketing. Many that I mentor are looking to learn important processes and methods to further enhance their marketing skills, including what is viewed as traditional techniques e.g Maslow.

Let's not stereotype a whole generation of marketers when we should be encouraging them instead. If we feel they aren't engaged in traditional marketing knowledge, what can we do as a collective to change that?

Senior Marketing Manager, Disney
One to Watch 2019 attendee

No. I think it is too sweeping a claim. However, I do think ‘SWOT’ manifests in different ways – for example in the entertainment industry it is more ‘part and parcel’ of strategy to launch content (not always called out or have a slide dedicated to the ‘grid’ as it may have been in the past).

Keeping up with trends are a necessary part of a marketer's role, but when looking at the media mix for any campaign, ‘trends’ are still considered / rejected on merit. Activation still needs to be grounded in reality, but it is the responsibility of senior leaders to guide their teams and ensure marketing delivers against key objectives not passing fads.

e-CRM Marketing Manager, ACCA
One to Watch 2019 attendee

Maybe. Swot analysis lacks clarity and can also become outdated quickly.

It is often not based on real data but more of internal brainstorming, whereas trends are based on more accurate and realistic data, which allow more accurate forecasting.

Marketing is changing as our eco/socio environment changes to meet the demand of consumers, SWOT maybe the basic principles or the building blocks, but times are changing and so should the techniques.

Go to Market Manager, B&Q
One to Watch 2019 attendee

No. I think rather than not being interested; it is more a case of being unaware of the academic foundations of marketing. With “marketers” entering businesses via a multitude of different educational and career paths, awareness and practical application of these tools are low and declining.

It therefore falls either to the young marketer to be curious- potentially seeking a mentor in a business or to the company to implement a marketing capability programme to ensure the basics are known and applied.

Senior Marketing Manager, HSBC
One to Watch 2019 attendee

No. Young marketers are increasingly expected to not only help deliver business strategy and outcomes, but also provide strong evidence of where the marketing budget went, how it was used and what benefit to the business it has brought.

Business stakeholders expect marketing to be so much more than a ‘colouring department keeping up with fashionable trends’ – they are key partners who contribute to customer and commercial growth shaping the business direction through insight, as well as continuous refinement and testing of collateral on the back of effectiveness KPIs and measurements.

Marketing Excellence Manager, Tesco Bank
Star Awards: Rising Marketing Winner 2019

Maybe. Do we really need to learn SWOT analysis? Isn’t it just another acronym for organising common-sense findings? It certainly has a place in this world, but so do the multitude of alternative models that help marketers keep abreast of consumer sentiment and desire.

I think failure to evolve and embrace new technology-driven methodologies (and the trends they identify) is more likely to leave you trailing behind. Incidentally, SWOT might be ‘old-fashioned’, but the ‘millennials are lazy’ trope is what’s really getting old.

Senior Creative, Sunshine Comms
Star Awards: Rising Creative Winner 2019

Maybe. When it comes to the next-gen versus old school marketing debate, I'll happily stand on neutral ground. On the one hand, I believe that marketing fundamentals provide structure and strategy for cohesive marketing. On the other hand, digital platforms and social media update almost weekly, meaning that the new wave of advertisers have to adapt quickly. If both ideologies are combined, you can turn a trend into treasure.

After all, marketing dialogue should react to popular culture – trendy or not.

This piece appeared in issue 2 of Marketing Society digital publication EMPOWER.