What a Marketer Looks Like in 2016

Recently, I watched a special about nature’s toughest animal, the Tardigrade (Hypsibius Dujardin).  The Tardigrade is known for its ability to survive harsh conditions and can be found nested anywhere from the boiling water of a hot spring to a solid block of ice — it can even survive high levels of radiation exposure and a trip to outer space! The thing looks like a miniature, alien hippopotamus, but, as the special continued, something weird happened…I found myself, as a marketer, relating to the Tardigrade’s everyday life. I would even go as far as to say we have a lot in common.

The Ability to Survive in Any Environment

Most marketers come out of college as naive wads of putty and end up spending their 20’s being molded, thrown into the fire and baked until they’re  hardened enough to withstand the harsh terrain of corporate marketing.

Marketers, who can call themselves successful, have weathered storms like company acquisitions, multiple strategic directional changes, leadership turnover, up-ended product/service offerings and the constant migration between marketing software(s) that all sound like they do the same thing as the last. The climate of today’s business landscapes are perpetually in flux, so marketers, as a species, have to quickly acclimate to day-to-day life in an active volcano or in some cases, on a desolate iceberg depending on the brand they’re supporting.

Tardigrades are technically thought of as an aquatic creature, but the resilient critters don’t really even need water to survive. When in a place like the desert, Tardigrades enter a state called desiccation, which involves shriveling up, slowing their metabolism to a crawl and hibernating until water returns.

Again, as a marketer, I can empathize.  For reasons that are mostly erroneous, our habitats devalue our contribution and are often inclined to off us or take away our resources whenever the climate takes a turn for the worse. When marketing budgets dry up, CMO’s, departmental heads and directors are forced to change up the strategy to make due with what they have.  As a result, the marketing departments may not operate at full capacity, but they still persevere and the marketers on those teams are forced to  adapt in lieu of dying (quitting).

The Tools to Survive

If Tardigrades could talk, I’m sure they’d tell you that acclimating to different environments requires more than just toughness, it also requires survival skills. As marketers, we too have to develop skills to survive. Over our careers, we have to be flexible enough to handle all different aspects of marketing, from digital to traditional, B2B to B2C, inbound to outbound, which requires us to keep up with the ever-changing theories, platforms, and methodologies that we’re constantly bombarded by when online.

Modern day marketing leaders know how to get their hands dirty and are more than just glorified managers — they are able to write, design, work in automation software(s) and CRMs, manage a website, generate detailed reporting that often goes right over the heads of many executives, or even set up Google AdWords in a pinch.

The marketing industry is constantly racing through trends and we’ve had to evolve swiftly to keep from falling behind. As I’m sure many of you can attest, personal growth is vital to our survival and those who attempt to get comfortable often become casualties of marketing Darwinism.

Be a Tardigrade

We are both survivors, dealing with an enormous amount of pressure (the Tardigrade can tolerate pressures six times that of the deepest oceans) and just as the world will never be able to kill off the Tardigrade, the business world will always need marketers to deliver messaging, generate leads, and engage with customers.

So, my marketing friends, the next time a company you work for comes upon hard times and liquidates the marketing department, remember we, like the Tardigrade, are indestructible and will be alive long after that company’s demise.