A 2013 Oxford study forecasted that 47 percent of jobs will be automated by 2034. The ripest industries for automation include those reliant on manual labor, such as agriculture, health, and manufacturing, where robotic precision enables machines to achieve better and faster results than human workers.
We often consider industries dependent on knowledge workers to be safe from automation. However, a recent McKinsey study suggests that 45 percent of knowledge work activity can be automated – a startling statistic for those of us with knowledge-based careers like marketing. It’s important to note that in coming years, a robot takeover is unlikely. Instead, we will see a new era of collaboration between man and machine, where human skills, creativity and the ability to apply one’s experience partner with technological tools to increase productivity and improve outcomes.
How, then, can we as marketers ensure we are staying ahead of the automation trend, using tools to improve instead of replace ourselves? In the age of automation, personal skills become an ever more important way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Here are four ways you can leverage your human strengths to get better results for yourself and your organization:
1. Remember the phone?
According to UCLA Psychology Professor Albert Mehrabian, words comprise only 7 percent of communication between two people. Thirty-eight percent of meaning is conveyed via tone, and 55 percent by body language. Every time you pick up the phone instead of emailing someone, you more than quadruple the effectiveness of your communication. While artificial intelligence and natural language processors can mimic human interaction over email, nothing can replace the power of the human voice in building connection, as evidenced by the lack of adoption of video conferencing solutions as a substitute for personal meetings. Personal rapport is essential in successful working relationships, so as often as you can, set aside your keyboard and pick up the telephone.
2. Adopt social selling
Social selling is a great tool for executive leaders who may not have the training or time to dedicate themselves to sales. Translating personal relationships to digital relationships on LinkedIn allows executives to organically grow a targeted audience who are already interested in hearing more from them. We helped one of our clients with a personalized social selling strategy, and in one year grew his LinkedIn contacts from 12 to nearly 5,000. The campaign is estimated to have generated more than $200,000 in new business revenue. Partnering one’s digital efforts with personal relationships is a powerful way to leverage professional social networking.
3. Use the sharpest tool in the shed
According to Gartner, 89 percent of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator this year, making customer experience the ultimate marketing tool. As a marketer, your performance is likely linked to lead generation. While attracting customers is hugely important, marketers can no longer be satisfied once the funnel is full. The old adage is true: it is easier to sell to an existing customer than to attract a new customer. There is enormous untapped revenue potential sitting within your company’s customer base. To uncover these opportunities, investigate what happens in your firm after you acquire a customer. What is the onboarding experience like? How does your team gauge customer health? Who is in charge of customer retention? It’s likely that in coming years, the entire department of customer success will become a marketing function.
4. Give your brain a breather
Our culture places tremendous value on heads-down work effort. Increasingly, we are constantly engaged with our phones and devices; work never ends when you leave the office and drive out of the parking lot. The abundance of productivity tools and life hacks offer a false promise that we can achieve the ideal worker state, man turned machine, eking out 45 minutes of productivity for every 30 minutes of work. Instead, what often happens is we burn ourselves out. Which is why setting aside time for contemplative thought may be the most important revolution in productivity to date.
Studies show that mindfulness helps reduce anxiety, eliminate distractions, and improve cognitive function. Ever have a brilliant idea while you were taking a shower? Quiet, “unproductive time” is essential to free our brain capacity to do what we are designed to do best: think, reason, build, and plan.
Are your sales and marketing teams leveraging all of their human strengths? Contact us today to learn how we can help with a customized lead generation and social selling campaign.