The Digital Marketer’s Modern Pentathlon (or how to be a Digital Musketeer) .


I love the Olympics because it’s a joyous, colourful and creative celebration of all that people can achieve across a huge variety of disciplines. From the excitement of the 100m (or my personal favourite, the 200m) to the cycling, sailing and beach volleyball the range of skills and variety of events is always fabulously impressive.

One event that always makes me double take is the not-often publicised modern pentathlon, a fascinating mixed discipline event comprising shooting, horse riding (show jumping), fencing, cross country running and freestyle swimming. Now, seemingly the origin of this event is that it was invented by the father of the modern Olympics and it was designed to include all the skills that a lady or gentleman of the time should have - to me it also reads as the recipe for being a top-notch Musketeer.

So, if the X-Men has taught us nothing, it's never question an original story and so if we take this origin story as read, what might a newly updated digital marketers modern pentathlon be? What are the five key skills that any modern digital marketer needs?

As someone who is often involved in developing training programs, structuring teams and working on digital strategy I thought I would have a go at putting down my top 5 skills that a digital marketer needs which probably needs a pretty big caveat that this is biased towards those on the dark, sorry,  agency side.

So, in no particular order, here goes…

Data Insightfulness (Fencing - precise, intelligent and practiced)

Being data aware and being able to understand data is very much a key skill for the digital marketer of today. Finding insights in data is a key strategy for any account manager/producer/UX designer who wants to be able to demonstrate and support their ideas for a client.

This is not to say you need to have a head for numbers, but the ability to spot a trend or pattern is a good first step to being Data Insightful. Like fencing, it's a finely honed discipline that gets better with practice.

Client and their Customer Intelligence (Cross Country Running - prepared, adaptable and in it for the long haul)

Digital marketing, at its very core, is about producing a result, and in the case of the team at Sagittarius, this is almost always for a client. Consequently, doing your homework on the client themselves, their customers and their audience is a must.

Like cross country running it’s a long game that takes preparation, adaptability and constant and consistent energy.

Hitting Targets (Shooting - hitting targets)

Ok, so an obvious shooting analogy here but being able to define and hit a goal or target is a must. I can often be heard quoting Happy Talk from South Pacific because, quite simply, ‘if you don’t have a dream, then how you gonna’ make a dream come true’. Goals and targets are important as, in today’s data driven environment, you need to be able to explain what you set out to do, how it panned out and what you achieved (particularly if you’re on the agency side of the fence).

Channel Agnostic and Channel Aware (Swimming - honed, co-ordinated and effective)

In digital marketing terms the end always justifies the means and never the other way round (unless you’re in an R&D state of play). Today’s digital marketer needs to understand the channels and the tactics available to them and then be able to objectively co-ordinate these to work best to achieve the overall goal.

Creative and Justified (Show Jumping - brave, bold and committed)

As a digital marketing musketeer your client is looking to you for your knowledge, expertise, creativity and experience. Consequently, you must be brave and bold in your strategic thinking and planning and be able to justify your thinking. Once you’ve had sign off from your client you then need to be committed to your plan much in the same way that a horse and rider commit to a jump a long way before they get close to it.

So that’s my five, but really it could have been a decathlon or whatever comes after that, as the modern digital musketeer needs a whole range of skills and these must include the classics too - effective communicator, able to present (and presented well) and organised.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this too - tweet your top 5 to @nick_towers using #digitalmusketeer and let me know what you think the modern lady or gentleman involved in digital marketing needs today.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

05 Aug 2016 - 5 minute read
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