Don't Want to Get Fired? Top 3 Questions Successful Marketers Can Answer

Marketing is a lot like flirting. Everyone thinks they can do it.

While there are a gifted few who can charm and woo their way through any exchange, many others are like a tragic scene you can’t tear your eyes away from: They painfully, awkwardly, and almost inevitably crash and burn.

And if there’s one thing marketing flirts with, it’s danger. Marketing is a tough, unforgiving job in every industry. We’ve seen great CMOs get crushed under the rubble of catastrophic company reputation crises, and Forbes’ Jonathan Salem Baskin once said that CMOs get fired 25 percent faster than CIOs and nearly twice as often as every other C-Suite executive.

So, as a marketer, where does that leave you? In a time of growing expectations to connect with a new generation and new technology, how do you fire up your company while avoid getting fired? Learn to answer these questions and open up a can of whoop a** — without getting canned.

1. Do You Know How to Reach Your Audience?

Audience, how do I connect with thee? Let me count the ways.

If you’re unsure of where consumers stand, you’re not alone. According to the CMO Council, 36 percent of marketers say that the online and offline market has become more “cluttered and confusing over the last five years.” By that same token, 66 percent of marketers feel they are hit-or-miss when it comes to delivering customer experiences based on what their brands promise.

While trying to navigate in this new marketing game and its new set of rules, how do you target the right audience and how do you decide what content they would find relevant?

Geo-targeting and competitive match terms aside (think of these tactics as investing in premium bait to catch the bigger, more profitable fish in a certain part of the ocean, instead of casting a wide net everywhere and having to sift through guppies), there are two things you need to know: social media and integrated, branded storytelling.

Social media is the poster child of digital success. Consumers are the lifeblood of the economy and Millennials are the rising generation of buying power, with a third of them saying they prefer using social media to interact with businesses. So, it’s not surprising that 78 percent of companies in 2015 had dedicated social media teams. Is yours one of them?

Like there are many ways to make a delicious sandwich, there are many ways to make a successful social media strategy. A few of them can be found on Foodable’s Marketing and Social Media Insights Center.

But the bigger fish to fry is branded storytelling. Custom content, the artistic ability to connect the brand’s message and target audience, is sink-or-swim for businesses. Per dollar, custom content strategies have produced three times more leads than without it.

Data alone is boring. In-your-face proclamations of your brand’s brilliance is a turnoff. Consumers want to be engaged. They want to be told stories. Not only is about logic and practicality, they want their buying decisions to be aligned with their emotions. The Content Council reported that 61 percent of consumers said they felt better about a company that produced custom content and were more likely to buy from that company. In an age that rejects traditional advertising, films, features, and other creative media are the way to go.

Curious to see integrated storytelling in action? Check out and the Foodable Film Festival.

2. Do You Know What Your Competitors Are Doing?

Marketers, keep your consumers close but your competitors closer.

In this case, ignorance is not bliss. “Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” (Kudos to author Dan Zarrella.)

The only way to stay two steps ahead of the game is if you know where your competitors are going, and if they’re going down a path of self-destruction, you’ll need to know where to redirect your course. The only way to improve, invent, and innovate is to outpace and out-create what has already been benchmarked.

Audience reach, audience growth, and lead-generated sales are all useful metrics that help your brand measure content effectiveness (not to mention spark new ideas for engaging content or content integration across multiple marketing strategies), but as valuable as it is to know what to study, it’s also important to know when to study these variants.

Competitor analysis should be continuous, not periodic. Easier said than done, considering how time-consuming it is to sit down and process all the gigabytes of information collected by different analytics tools and social media platforms, but setting it aside is a chance marketers shouldn’t gamble with.

The click-speed pace of technology means change is happening more rapidly than ever before. The Internet is a speeding bullet, sending all potential partnerships, public relation opportunities, and consumers whizzing by along with it. Being on time is being late. Being in the present means predicting the future. Tracking your data in multiple dimensions — whether by saying “Our competitors share each piece of content X times, so we should increase our volume Z times” or “These industry leaders have a marketing team of X size, so we should try to keep up by reallocating” — is a step in the right direction for growth.

Want to hear the industry’s leading experts share their secrets? Want a bird’s-eye view of where the industry is going? Join us for’s interactive panels — and if you don’t, who knows? Maybe your competitor will.

3. Can You Guarantee ROI?

If you can’t promise ROI, you can surely promise RIP to your career.

Dramatics aside, we know there is no 100 percent way to guarantee ROI. (And if you could, you wouldn’t be reading this right now!) In fact, 70 percent of marketers admitted to not being confident in their company’s ability to measure the return on mobile ad spends. Even more shocking is that 50 percent of companies are using digital marketing, but conceded that they don’t have a plan. Yikes!

Do you want another tidbit of not-so-impressive news? Seventy-one percent of businesses are creating their own content, but only 12 percent said they feel their content market strategies are optimized. Felt a shiver of fear strike through your heart? No worries! The future isn’t so bleak. There are best practices to help you confidently put your budget money where your mouth is.

First, set clear goals. Keep in mind that a marketing strategy is not a goal — a strategy is a means to a goal, not the goal itself. Once you’ve identified specific goals, which can be as simple or elaborate as needed, you and your team have a direction. Without one, you could be tossing away time and money. Next, define your metric for success. Don’t just post and pray! Is it the number of clicks? Rate of audience engagement? Understanding your KPIs helps you understand your brand’s progress.

Here’s another tip: Do you think email is dead? Don’t think outside the inbox just yet! Email often delivers the highest ROI of any digital marketing tactic.

Did you know that in the United States, email marketing yields an average 4,300 percent return on investment? And more than half of those emails — 67 percent — are opened on mobile devices. More mind-blowing news: 39 percent of marketers say they have no strategy for mobile email and only 11 percent of emails are optimized for mobile. Time to wake up and smell the keyboard, people! Get those email lists and email blasts going, and nurture those leads. Take a few pointers from this article on Foodable.

And there you have it, the top three questions marketers need to answer to avoid getting fired. Granted, the fate of your career rests on more than three points, but a solid understanding of your audience, your competitor, and your tactics will give you the foundation you need to succeed. Good luck! Go out there and make your team proud!