Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
June 11, 201411:03 PM

So You Think You Can Be A Marketer

What do you think it takes to make it as a marketer?

The answer used to be a lot easier. Most people entering into the profession of marketing did so because they weren't happy somewhere else. They got their law degree, but didn't want to test for the bar. They got a MBA, but didn't want to work in middle management for the rest of their lives. Very few people in this industry started studying the field in university and saw it as their profession of destination. The vast majority stumble into it after something else didn't tickle their fancy. Well, the industry has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, and it is becoming a much more respected field of study and a profession of destination for many. With the proliferation of technology, it's also a much more complex and dynamic field to work in. Last month, I published a blog post titled, What Mad Men Skills Do You Need To Rock Your Marketing?, which looked at some of the softer skills that marketers need. There's more to that equation.

What are the future marketing skills required for success?

That was the question that Econsultancy attempted to answer in their Skills Of The Modern Marketer Report. And, while it was somewhat surprising to see just how much weight and importance was being put on the softer skills, it's equally crucial to see what broader and vertical skills are also seen as being critical for a marketer's success.

The essential broad skills for marketers:

  • Customer experience.
  • Data.
  • Multichannel.
  • Technology.
  • Strategy.

The essential vertical skills for marketers:

  • Mobile marketing.
  • Content marketing.
  • Web analytics/data.
  • Social media activity.
  • Community management.

The essential soft skills for marketers (but check out my blog post for more depth on this):

  • Adaptable.
  • Inquisitive.
  • Open.
  • Collaborative.

Is this the type of list that you expected?

I was shocked. There are some key and core components that are so blatantly missing. I find it hard to believe that all of the respondents in this report are not just individuals who are chasing the  latest and greatest shiny, bright object. Where are the core disciplines? Where is planning? Where is creativity? Where is testing? Where is user experience (that's not the same thing as customer experience)? General advertising? Direct response? Persuasion skills? I'm also more than a little shocked that performance marketing isn't even up there as well? According to the MediaPost article, Future Marketing Skills Required For Success, published today:

"Marketers are already recognizing a high degree of complexity in their roles, but many feel underprepared in terms of skills to deal with the degree of change they see coming down the line. It was however, the increasing emphasis and priority given to 'softer' marketing skills, notably reflecting a number of the areas mentioned in the Modern Marketing Manifesto, that was perhaps most interesting."

The future of marketing will be predicated on our ability to teach, learn and grow in all of these fields.

The MediaPost article also has one line of copy that will - without question - be dismissed by the industry (sadly): "Self-motivation and continuous learning were felt to be important in the context of a continually changing environment." This is true, there is no way that individuals will succeed in our industry without the ability to be strong at self-motivation in the context of continuous self-learning, but that's not enough. This role of better education can't be relegated to the individuals within the profession. There is a massive opportunity for both educational institutions and industry trade associations to take this information and run with it. Whether you believe that these broad, vertical and soft skills are the critical ones that will ensure the success of marketers today - and into the future - is not as important as recognizing that this list is a dizzying array of opportunity. It's time for all of us - as an industry - to come together and agree on how to best train, educate and nurture our talent to get better. Marketing is becoming increasingly complex. A marketer's ability to truly understand and wrap their heads around these areas will require much more than self-motivation and the desire to learn. It's going to take planning, training and a more formal structure, so that everyone can push this industry ahead to where it needs to go. Yes, a proper accreditation system may be even be a very good idea at this point in time.

So, do you still think that you have what it takes to be a marketer? 

By Mitch Joel

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