Depending on how you look at it, marketing can either be a collection of channels or a grouping of disciplines.

The easiest perspective is to see marketing as channels. Channels are obvious and tangible (well, as tangible as digital marketing can get). Channels are things like social media and email and content and podcasting, performance and search and video.

And we’ve carved out roles to fit these channels: social media manager, video coordinator, etc.

We’ve largely built the Buffer marketing team in this way: First, adding generalists who were tasked with improving the performance of channels, then specialists who took those channels even further.

But what if there’s another way?

Channels vs. Disciplines

The channel approach is tried-and-true, especially within large organizations where specialization is the norm. The right mix of channels — and the right people to run them — makes for a powerful marketing machine.

However, a channel-first mindset has some limitations.

  • Goals are narrow and niche.
  • Projects can become siloed.
  • Work is isolated.

For many companies, this is okay. You can solve for many of these challenges with things like goal-setting frameworks that build to a common outcome or collaboration systems to ensure everyone’s involved. And perhaps isolation is what you want to optimize for, in the spirit of efficiency.

What we’re finding is that there may be real value in expanding a teammate’s scope beyond a channel and allowing them to think with a discipline-first mindset.

This already happens with roles like growth marketers. They focus on growth (duh).

Editorial directors oversee all content.

Community builders bring people together, regardless of channel.

Brand managers shepherd a multitude of disparate assets and areas.

These discipline-first roles solve for the challenges of being channel-first. When you work in a role that focuses on a discipline …

  • Goals become broad and high-level impactful
  • Projects involve multiple stakeholders and collaborators
  • Work is interdependent

Of course, a discipline-oriented role does not come without challenges. You have less focus (but more possibility!) and increased communication with teammates. It’s a different way of working, and you’re likely to find that channel-first or discipline-first can both be the right decision for your company at various stages, even within various roles on the same team.

For us, we see the potential of these discipline-first roles, and we want to explore a new discipline for Buffer: We want to see a role focused on audience development.

The rise of the Audience Marketer

The discipline of audience development has been around for many years now, especially in the media industry where “audience” and “viewers” are quite synonymous.

But we’re starting to see this role expand into other industries, too. Take book publishing for instance:

Where once marketing teams had to guess what type of person a book would appeal to, now book audiences are much more knowable. Thanks to the internet, social media, newsletters, and e-commerce publishers have more opportunity than ever to form direct relationships with their readers and measure the impact of those interactions. That has led to the rise of a new type of function in trade publishing: audience development.

One of the key reasons why audience development is a viable discipline these days is because of the advancements of digital marketing channels and audience data.

Businesses are increasingly developing customized messages in an attempt to resonate with target audiences. Unlike in the past — when basic demographic information was the basis for creating audience-tailored content — audience signals have given creative teams a new world in which to brainstorm.

There are a lot of channels by which you can reach customers.

There are a lot of messages that a company wants to send.

There is a ton of data about who wants to hear what, and when, and how.

The audience marketer ties this all together. Looking back at the audience role for HBO, they identified a handful of questions that they want their audience marketer to answer:

  • How do we better leverage the vast amount of data at our disposal to more accurately reach consumers with the relevant message, at the right time, in the right way?
  • How do we effectively reach our audience, while preventing fatigue, across numerous campaigns?
  • How do we effectively reach our audiences across multiple digital channels?
  • Which audiences are more receptive to which mediums, and how can we build audience journeys across all channels? 

The ultimate goal with audience development work is to end up with a core group of fans and advocates. 2pm’s Web Smith made this distinction in a recent blog post:

There are generally two types of restaurants. One chain advertises “billions served”. This emphasizes the company’s KPIs: reach, volume, and satisfaction by the masses. But what if you aren’t trying to reach the masses? The second type of restaurant stands on the quality of the food and service in addition to the inviting atmosphere for conversation. In the latter environment, serendipity is more likely to be found. It’s emblematic of a shift from prioritizing audience (reach) to prioritizing community (depth). 

We believe this is where all good audience strategies end up: building a core group of followers and fans. First comes audience development. Then comes the transition to community.

What an Audience Marketer does at Buffer

We’re hiring for an Audience Marketer right now. We’d love to hear from you if this role speaks to you.

https://twitter.com/kevanlee/status/1227585994926497792

We’re looking for someone to focus full-time on delivering value to a growing audience. 

An audience marketer at Buffer will focus on getting Buffer’s brand in front of a new customer segment (our target customers) through content distribution, organic and paid promotion, and creative campaigns across social media, search, email, partnerships, and any other channel that’s validated.

Success in this role looks like:

  • Every new piece of content reaches 1000s of people, thanks to you
  • Reproducible playbooks for distributing content via paid social, display ads, email, and search
  • A fantastic, on-brand social media presence that makes people go, “Whoa”
  • Low CPMs and CPCs, getting lower every day

We’re looking for someone to

  • Build an audience development strategy from the ground up. 
  • Create a 10x social media presence for Buffer on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn: high-quality, on-brand, consistent, delightful, and engaging. 
  • Own, execute, and deliver a paid social media strategy that drives reach, traffic, and awareness
  • Manage all paid sponsorships and display advertising across email, events, podcasts, and web
  • Take over our SEM efforts and improve the processes for search advertising
  • Contribute to a cross-functional lifecycle marketing strategy, and execute on your ideas for improving TOFU and nurture messaging across multiple audience segments
  • Work with partners (as needed) to launch new campaigns and find new opportunities for promotion, distribution, and brand expansion
  • Manage the advertising budget and allocate resources based on performance
  • Measure and report your progress. Educate the team on how distribution is performing
  • Discover the best channels and best messaging to reach DTC marketers
  • Oversee testing roadmap, analysis, and implementation of learnings.
  • Continually improve organic and paid distribution
  • Put together creative as needed for campaigns
  • Write compelling copy 

What makes this person awesome

  • You see yourself as a T-shaped marketer with core competencies in a handful of areas but also with baseline skills across a multitude of marketing disciplines.
  • You have a firm understanding of demand generation funnels, funnel conversion and the tactics used at each stage within the funnel
  • You understand CPA, ROI, LTV, payback periods.
  • You have an easy fluency with how different metrics affect one another.
  • You have a strong handle on growth experiments: specifically, can devise a sound experiment in order to learn with incomplete data.
  • You have a growth and data-driven mindset (testing, measuring, iterating)
  • You have experience designing and creating display ads that convert
  • You have a proven track record running campaigns to lower CPM cost
  • You have impeccable organization, creative ideas and proven execution
  • You are a marketing tech expert (Adwords, Hubspot, and more)
  • You’re creative and results-driven
  • You are a strategic thinker who understands how the pieces fit together
  • You thrive on flexibility and taking on new projects outside of your comfort zone.
  • You can consider, play out, and weigh alternative scenarios based on strategic objectives. 
  • You have expertise in strategies, executing on the plan and measuring campaign performance
  • At least 3 to 5 years of B2B demand generation experience is nice to have (bonus if you also have SaaS experience), but not necessary

Want to join the team?

If this role sounds like you, then we’d love to meet you. We’re currently accepting applications and are very much looking forward to meeting many awesome people through this process.

Posted by:Kevan Lee

VP of marketing currently living in Boise, Idaho. I work with the lovely folks at Buffer. You can join my email list to get an inside look at marketing and branding and team-building in tech.