The rise of the position-less marketer


Optimove The Position Less MarketerOptimove The Position Less Marketer

NBA star basketball player LeBron James famously declared, “I’m not a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, or power forward. I’m a basketball player.” This sentiment reflects a trend towards versatility in a sport. These are position-less players.

Position-less was displayed by Jauan Jennings of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2024 Super Bowl. Jennings threw a touchdown pass and caught one himself.   

Coaches like Erik Spoelstra of the NBA’s Miami Heat embrace this shift, enabling teams to adapt to different opponents and play styles.

Other professionals possess abilities that transcend traditional roles, like utility infielder, Javier Báez in baseball; and players like James Milner in European football (soccer) demonstrate versatility across positions. 

Beyond sports, multi-instrumental musicians like Prince exemplify adaptability, easily mastering multiple instruments. In business, one could argue that an entrepreneur is position-less. He or she needs to juggle multiple roles out of necessity.

These are elite performers — superhumans — resemble bionic individuals capable of excelling in diverse roles with exceptional skill and adaptability.”

Defining the position-less marketer

The position-less marketer, akin to versatile players in sports or music, excels in reshaping traditional marketing roles to drive business outcomes in the digital realm. This dynamic approach emphasizes adaptability and collaboration, fostering agility in marketing strategies.

However, being a position-less marketer requires a diverse skill set. Can one person effectively handle writing, data analysis, project management, research, campaign orchestration and various marketing activities, such as social media and email campaigns, alongside visual marketing and website management?

While each marketer may have a dominant skill, adapting to multiple roles is essential in today’s marketing landscape. With advanced tools and evolving strategies, mastering diverse skills is increasingly feasible.

What is the position-less marketer?

In traditional marketing, individuals often specialize in specific roles, leading to siloed functions such as brand management, content creation, and digital marketing. However, the modern digital landscape has birthed the position-less marketer, characterized by: 

  1. Versatility: Position-less marketers possess a diverse skill set, enabling them to execute tasks across various marketing functions and channels, from data analysis to content creation. 
  2. Integration and collaboration: These marketers prioritize collaboration, working across disciplines and leveraging cross-functional teams to create cohesive campaigns. 
  3. Adaptability to change: Position-less marketers pivot quickly to adjust strategies in response to rapid market trends, consumer behaviors, and technological advancements. 
  4. Data-driven decision making: They rely on data-driven insights to inform their strategies and optimize campaign performance, using analytics tools to track effectiveness and adjust tactics accordingly. 
  5. Customer-centric focus: Understanding and meeting consumer needs is paramount for position-less marketers who craft personalized messaging that resonates across various touchpoints.

Why is the position-less marketer possible?

Think back to three years ago, before generative AI like ChatGPT. If you were not adept at copywriting, perhaps — even for simple copy — you asked a skilled professional. But now, you may do it yourself using AI. Does this make you position-less? The answer is yes in select circumstances.

This article opened with the example of a running back throwing a TD pass. But that running back, Jennings, certainly does not throw every pass. The bulk of that work is left to the quarterback.

The emergence of position-less marketing is made possible by several key factors:

  1. Data analytics and AI: Advanced data analytics tools and artificial intelligence algorithms enable marketers to gather and analyze vast amounts of data from various sources. It allows for creating highly targeted and personalized marketing campaigns without being confined to traditional roles or positions.
  2. Integrated marketing platforms: Integrated marketing platforms bring together various marketing channels, such as social media, email, content marketing, and advertising, under one umbrella. This integration facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among marketing teams, breaking down silos and enabling marketers to work across different areas of expertise.
  3. Automation: Marketing automation tools streamline repetitive tasks such as email marketing, lead nurturing, and campaign management. By automating these processes, marketers can focus on strategic decision-making and creative tasks rather than being tied down by specific job functions.
  4. Consumer-centric approach: The shift towards a consumer-centric approach in marketing emphasizes understanding and catering to individual consumers’ needs and preferences. Meeting these needs requires marketers to be flexible and adaptable, capable of quickly responding to changing consumer behavior and market trends.
  5. Agile methodologies: Agile methodologies, borrowed from software development, are increasingly being applied to marketing processes. Agile marketing teams are organized into cross-functional groups that work collaboratively on projects, allowing for greater flexibility and responsiveness to evolving market conditions.
  6. Continuous learning and skill development: In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, marketers must continuously update their skills and stay abreast of emerging technologies and trends. It requires a mindset of lifelong learning and adaptability rather than rigid adherence to a specific job description or role.

Why the position-less marketer is important

Embracing the principles of position-less play in marketing strategies enables companies to outpace competition, engage with audiences more effectively and achieve better business outcomes in the dynamic digital landscape.

The integration of advanced technology, agile methodologies, and consumer-centric approaches allows marketers to transcend traditional job roles, embracing a position-less approach where skills and expertise take precedence over titles and hierarchies.

By adopting this approach, companies minimize information loss typically associated with rigid departmental (assembly line) structures. Instead, each team operates under a unified pod, reducing mistakes and accelerating execution. This agile structure, reminiscent of start-up environments, eliminates redundancy and waste, facilitating faster decision-making and adaptation to market changes.

A marketing world split: Position-less vs. rule-based marketers

The Divide: Position-less (new, AI-based) vs. Rule-Based Marketers (Legacy) depicts a hypothetical split in the marketing industry between two contrasting ideologies:

  1. AI-Based marketers: These AI-based marketers are position-less marketers. They embody adaptability, innovation, analytics and creativity. They readily embrace AI, leverage data-driven insights and welcome change to remain at the forefront of marketing evolution.
  2. Rules-based marketers (legacy): Representing traditionalism, these marketers adhere strictly to established rules, past practices and control-focused approaches. They are hesitant to adopt AI, preferring the comfort of familiar methods and routines.

The potential consequences of this split include the following:

  • Innovation divide: The industry could bifurcate between innovative AI-based position-less and legacy Rules-based marketers, resulting in varying levels of innovation.
  • Competitive advantage: Companies aligning with the position-less approach may gain agility, adaptability and a competitive edge in dynamic markets.
  • Skills gap: A divide may emerge between AI-proficient and non-adaptive legacy marketers, contributing to a skills gap within the industry.
  • Industry evolution: The marketing landscape may shift towards innovative approaches, rendering traditional methods less effective or relevant.
  • Collaboration opportunities: Despite the divide, there exists potential for collaboration and knowledge-sharing between the two camps, leading to hybrid strategies that blend tradition with innovation.

Ultimately, this division underscores the ongoing tension between tradition and innovation in marketing, with profound implications for those embracing a position-less mindset versus adhering to legacy approaches.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — Realize your multipotentiality

There is an iconic Ted Talk by Emilie Wapnick on multipotentiality. Multipotentiality is having many exceptional talents, any one or more of which could make for a great career for that person. Her talk focuses on the question every person hears, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For most of us, the answer starts with daydreams of an astronaut or doctor. (I am sure no one said a marketer). But as we get older and face high school, then college, it causes anxiety. Many of us think we have to find that one thing. Finding just one thing is no longer true in marketing because you can be empowered to do it all. 

That said, I advise that you don’t do it all. Rather, be like Jennings, occasionally throwing the TD pass or Prince playing the drums. Step in when it is best for the organization. So be position-less, but not too position-less. 

I believe that if marketers find how to optimize being position-less, they will secure their position on the marketing team for as long as they want. 

Pini Yakuel, co-founder and CEO of Optimove, wrote this article

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