Why being a successful marketer is not all about marketing

3 Steps to Achieve Personal Success - Effective Managers

Today’s career marketers not only need to be good at ‘marketing’ and up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and techniques, but they also need to have a broader understanding and/or skills to progress in their careers.  That is, a marketing leadership role needs you to be savvy in other disciplines, such as finance and good governance together with an understanding of the areas and functions that are interdependent to delivering a successful marketing strategy.

Marketing roles vary significantly. Given that, the required skills really depend on the organisation and the individual. But generally, there are a few specific skills that marketers need to make sure they have in order to stay competitive in the field. These include both soft and hard skills.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the key skills you should have:

Soft skills

An inquiring mind: Marketers need to be naturally curious and inquisitive about the outcomes of their work and how their work plays out in the larger organisation or how it aligns with company goals and objectives.

Teamwork: Effective communication and collaboration are essential as the marketing team of today now needs to work with so many other teams (like finance and IT) to ensure both fiscal responsibilities on projects as well as continued digital innovation in marketing.

Timing awareness: It is said the timing is everything. Marketers need to be aware of when it’s the best time to undertake a marketing program or when it isn’t. This means being aware and in tune with what is going on externally in your organisation (or internally), that may impact the effectiveness of your marketing activity.

Hard skills

Financial acumen: Today’s marketers should understand how to calculate an ROI and understand what is on a P&L. Importantly, be able to have financial conversations around how marketing is contributing to the overall financial success of the organisation.

Good Governance: Governance is not just the responsibility of the Board or the C suite. It is the responsibility of all employees and marketers are no exception, especially if they are marketing leaders. Good governance helps you to always act in the best interests of the organisation. More specifically, it can improve the performance of your organisation, help it become more stable and productive, and unlock new opportunities. It can reduce risks, and enable faster and safer growth. It can also improve reputation and foster trust.

Analytics: No, you don’t have to be a data scientist. However, marketers need to think more like ‘data scientists.’ You need to have a solid grasp of data—being able to derive insights and not just collect data. This is an area that may require you to go ‘back to school’ to learn contemporary statistics and the tools that can enable you to make better decisions.

Storytelling: Much emphasis is being placed on your ability to create stories that connect with consumers/end users. Equally important is the ability to connect with the CEO, C-suite, Board and employees. Storytelling is as important in driving internal commitment and alignment as it is in engaging consumers.

Value Chain analysis: Marketers need to have, at least, a fundamental understanding of the organisation’s value chain and how marketing supports or influences it. Value chain analysis is a strategic process where an organisation evaluates its internal activities to identify how each contributes to its competitive advantage. The ultimate goal of a value chain analysis is to pin down the practices and processes that differentiate an organisation from its competitors — for better or worse.

Technical skills: These days, the field of marketing requires some level of technical expertise and experience. Marketers use specialised software, tools and equipment to design, manufacture and distribute marketing materials. Additionally, customer data technology for segmentation, customer retention and delivering sound customer experiences. Marketing leaders should have at least a basic understanding of how the technology in their department works and how it is used. As technology develops quickly, this often requires continuing education.

Both hard and soft skills are necessary for a marketer’s career success. The hard skills help you to complete complex tasks while the soft skills aid you in managing and leading your team.

Andrew Thornton
AMI Chair

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