We talk a lot about Mad Men. We talk a lot about Math Men.
(I prefer Mad People and Math People).
There is no question that marketers are increasingly required to better understand data, analytics, technology and yes, even math. These hybrids (or pink unicorns, as I like to call them) are few and far between. This is a new-ish field and finding professional marketers who can do the strategic, creative and data work is no simple challenge. I often tell colleagues that these people don't exist and, if they did, they're being handsomely paid and not out "on the streets" looking for work. With that, we can't forget the soft skills. All of the data in the world doesn't add up to a winning campaign or platform, if you don't have the ability to be strategic and creative.
So, what are some of the softer skills that marketers need?
You may think that the answer is simple: Be creative. Be a good thinker. You would be wrong. Today, Marketing Charts published an interesting news item, titled, Which "Soft Skills" Are Most Important for Marketers to Possess? Before clicking over to the article, I jotted down some of the skills that I thought might be most important (and yes, creativity and being a strategic thinker were at the top of the list along with some thoughts around collaboration and being someone who can integrate efficiently with disparate teams and people). Well, it turns out the research paints a different picture.
The most important soft skills for marketers...
- The ability to embrace change.
- Ability to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly.
- Being passionate, hungry to learn and curious.
- Being open and collaborative.
- Ability to deal with uncertainty.
- Lateral thinking and the ability to make connections between disparate ideas or concepts.
This is not about marketing.
This is much more about disruption, than what it takes to be a great marketer in this day and age. You could take this list and put it up against anyone in any given industry. You could also say that it's as relevant to the CEO as it is to the folks with their feet on the ground and hands deep into the business. Change. Ugh. That first one is such a tough one. How much has been written about the importance of being adaptive to change? We all talk about change and disruption as if it's something that is so easy to do. It's not. We are, without question, creatures of habit. We likes things the way that we like them (and, the older we get, the more difficult it becomes). So, if you can't handle change, the next item up for bid is a crushing one: Speed. The speed to identify new opportunities and the speed to act upon them. Again, this is great (and true) for all marketers, but equally relevant to anyone who represents the brand.
You thought the math and data was tough?
After reviewing this list, I could not help but wonder: What is tougher, the "mad" part or the "math" part? A couple of classes on Google Analytics and some YouTube tutorial videos and - almost - anyone can get the hang of it. This other stuff? The stuff listed above? Have you ever taken a course on dealing with uncertainty? What about a course on collaboration? Changing our DNA... getting rid of our dogma. Not an easy thing to do. This list is important. It serves as a great reminder that being successful (in marketing or anything) requires much more than the practical and theoretical things that we learn about an industry while on the job. It requires us to be a lot more introspective and open to learning... not just about the task at hand, but how to make ourselves that much better. Uncertainty, vulnerability, mindfulness and more.
Tough... tough stuff.