Modern marketing is as much an art as it is a science, and as the business of marketing evolves at a breakneck pace, striking this balance will become even more critical for success. In order to remain relevant, marketers must make it a priority to stay on the cutting edge of strategy, technique, tactics and technology.
In fact, great marketers embody perhaps one of the most diverse skill sets of any career, including a penchant for human psychology, statistics and creativity, as well as killer organization and time management skills. Agility, along with a knack for staying one step ahead of your customers’ expectations and competitors, also helps tremendously.
If you’re not quite where you want or need to be, it might be time to brush up on some crucial skills to take your career to the next level. Closing these five skills gaps can help maximise your marketability as a marketer.
1. Tech tool savvy
Literally thousands of new marketing technologies have emerged over the last few years. In 2014, ChiefMarTec.com documented just under 950 solutions, a number that nearly doubled a year later, and then more than doubled AGAIN to a mind-boggling 3,874 tools just a year ago. Some of these have tremendous value. Others are mere novelties. The problem, of course, is how to know the difference—cutting through the clutter to figure out which new tool in the crop of thousands can actually impact ROI. Moving forward, the top categories worth getting to know and paying the most attention to are: work management, sales automation, social media and monitoring, display/programmatic advertising, marketing automation and content marketing.
2. A mobile-centric approach
Mobile is becoming the most important channel for reaching audiences of all ages. In the UK, 72 percent of consumers use a smartphone, compared to only 53 percent who have desktop computers, and for retail websites, mobile traffic has overtaken desktop traffic for the first time ever. It’s safe to say we’re firmly in the mobile-first era, and designing programs and campaigns that “work for” mobile simply isn’t enough. Marketers must make mobile their primary focus, tailoring messages and campaigns for this personalised channel where their customers live.
3. Agile project management
Once exclusively the domain of software development, Agile methodologies are seeing rapid adoption outside of IT. Why? Agile enables rapid turn-around thanks to its short “sprint” approach to tackling projects, and it allows teams to change course quickly as needed. It also allows everyone—including stakeholders—greater visibility into progress and productivity. But, many marketers lack the knowledge, education and training about Agile to take advantage of these benefits. Even if you don’t adopt Agile for your team, it’s likely that some of your collaborators, such as content writers, creative services, etc., will. Getting up to speed with the concept and adopting even some of the techniques can give you a competitive advantage.
Today’s discerning consumers expect each and every interaction with a brand to be personalised for their specific interests, needs and requests (thanks to Netflix and Amazon for setting the bar so high). But, despite the expectation, 80 percent of marketers admit they’re failing at personalisation. In order to keep pace, marketers must make personalisation a key part of their strategy across every channel and customer touchpoint.
5. Influencer marketing
So far, we’ve covered digital skills, but here’s one that’s decidedly analogue: partnering with real-world influencers, thought leaders and trendsetters can be a very effective marketing strategy to build organic audience engagement. Similar to the way the paid spokesperson of the TV advertising heyday influenced audiences, building relationships with bloggers, researchers and social media activists can dramatically increase engagement, traffic, content and market share. Learning how to approach these individuals and leverage those relationships thoughtfully and for mutual benefit is a must-have skill for modern marketers.
The business of marketing moves at such a rapid pace, it’s sometimes hard to predict exactly what will be The Next Big Thing that sets the new industry standard. This is what makes it hard for marketers to keep up and not waste time chasing fads that fizzle out quickly. All indications point to these five skills already building momentum to become some of the most in-demand over the next five years or so.
If marketing is all about staying one step ahead, the smart money is on these tools and tactics. And, that means now is the time to invest in yourself to acquire the education and training to master these skills and maximise your marketability as a marketer.
Jada Balster, Marketing Director, Workfront