As consumers continue to morph into multichannel, multitasking, tech-savvy shoppers, marketers everywhere are struggling to stay ahead of the changes in the communications landscape.
For this reason, marketers not only need to hone existing communications capabilities and add new ones, but also seek out the skills they may need to exploit the next communications opportunity along their career paths. Let me stress that adopting these traits is not a reason to drop a vendor or two; developing these skills will make your partnership stronger as you will be able to provide insightful direction. What follows is my list of seven communications-oriented topics marketers should master to stay a step ahead:
- Brand Marketing: Brand marketing is not about launching a campaign. It is about establishing your brand’s purpose and vision and letting the consumer respond to it. In their last CMO Predictions report, Forrester claimed that 2019 will be the year marketing “gets sexy again.” They attribute this to a refocus on brand after years of emphasis on martech and technology in general. Consumers need to feel an emotional connection to the brand and marketers will be the ones to create that. Marketers will need to create branded, memorable experiences across the entire customer journey. Done properly, these experiences resonate with customers and can deliver the business results needed.
Brand managers impact both internal and external communications. Step one is to know your customer, but great brand marketers also obsess about touchpoints, and they form bridges to all departments in order to build brand unity and strength.
- Data Proficiency: Modern marketing requires a lot of analysis in order to craft strategies that will meet goals. All of us use analytics now, from the direct mail manager to the advertising coordinator. Day after day we add more and more reporting and data that needs to be gathered and interpreted. We test and control changes in offers. We AB test ads and subject lines.
Yet analytics is reported to be the second most difficult skill set to find in new marketing talent, even as it continues to become a necessary skill. It’s no longer enough to pass reporting and analysis on to another person. Marketers are continuously testing and refining; good marketers are using data to drive those refinements and increased effectiveness of programs. Marketers who can tie their efforts to reportable data that shows improving revenue will thrive.
The high demand for data proficient marketers will only continue to grow for decades to come.
- Social Media Management: I once sat on a Casino Marketing Conference panel on “Social Media: Yes or No.” Obviously, I was on the yes side, challenging my fellow marketers on the no side. Five years later, we knew the yes side was proving itself. The question then became what do we do with this channel that kept changing like a chameleon?
Today, the challenge of social media is in management. More than creating posts, the questions we need ask ourselves are about our audiences. Where do they live? What are they interested in? Do the channels vary by segment? Certainly, consumption is different across the platforms. What is the best channel to get your message in front of the audience… paid, sponsored, organic or some combination of all? Desktop vs. mobile distribution. Even the placement on the page requires thoughtful consideration and analytics.
Yes, there is a subset of skills required in social marketing, but the major ones fall under strategy and management of your social presence, according to each channel and that channel’s audience.
- Project Management: Most of us have experienced projects that went over budget, did not end on time or changed in scope over the life of the project. Marketing is constantly moving; there is always something that needs to get done. Effective project management is not a marketing skill that gets a great deal of attention, if any. But being a good project manager plays a huge role in the success of your programs, your team and your career.
If you look back at less-than-successful projects, you’ll see a common element: visibility. All affected team members—project team, executive team and department managers—need appropriate access and information for projects to succeed. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing a common intranet portal or network files, with necessary permissions. Centralized project folders provide easy access to reports, focused priorities, hot topics, deadlines and status of tasks. Successful leaders empower team members to update their own tasks on a regular basis.
Most marketing projects are deadline-driven. Schedules and project plans ensure work is completed in a timely fashion.
- Mobile Marketing: Mobile is undeniably a vital part of any organization’s efforts. While the elusive Millennials are often referred to as digital natives, AARP reports 78 percent of Boomers are smartphone owners, embracing technology to stay connected with family and the world in general. The opportunity to reach consumers on their mobile phones is obvious, especially as some studies show we look at them up to 47 times a day!
I think we can all agree that mobile marketing is no longer as easy as having an app that is a tiny reflection of your website. Wordstream calls mobile marketing, “the art of marketing your business to appeal to mobile device users. When done right, mobile marketing provides customers or potential customers using smartphones with personalized, time/location sensitive information so they can get what they need exactly when they need it, even if they’re on the go.”
Modern marketers should to have a variety of mobile strategies in their arsenal: app-based marketing (including social apps), in-game marketing, location-based marketing, mobile search, mobile image ads and SMS.
- Writing: I get it… LOL! LMFAO! SMH! LMK! I use these all day long. It’s the new way of communicating, but call me old fashioned—it has no place in professional communication. You need to be able to write for a wider audience, to understand your content as well as making sure you are not tarnishing your company’s brand or your personal brand.
It’s really easy to underestimate the importance of proper written communications, but it can be one of the most important skills you can have. It is the foundation of almost any advertisement from ads themselves, to e-mails, to direct mail, to your website and all those mobile ads you’ll be counting on. More importantly, consider how you interpret an internal e-mail sent to you that is written poorly? We juggle so many things at one time that it’s easy to say to yourself, “I just sent something off quickly. No one is going to care that it wasn’t written well.” Trust me… someone will care. If you’re lucky, that person will never have an impact on your career, but what if they do?
IMHO, understanding how to develop the best content is a useful skill whether you’re talking to customers, your team, your boss or your future boss.
- Video Production: If content is king, video is the ace. Brands need to embrace video beyond their television commercials (or simply posting them to the social channels). According to a 2018 Hubspot report, four of the top six channels consumers watch video on are social; Netflix and Amazon are the other two. Last year was a transformational year in which video shifted from a marketing tactic to a business strategy for many organizations. Video has transformed how businesses market and consumers shop.
- LinkedIn: I know. I promised you seven skills, and this is clearly number eight. But whether you’re actively looking for a job, secretly hoping for a new job or just proud of what you’re doing right now, mastering LinkedIn is a must for any person. And, if you’re a B2B marketer, LinkedIn has become a must. LinkedIn is a virtual networking event that never sleeps. There are a number of resources you can use to turn your profile from anonymous to marketing maven. Additionally, your network is sharing many great pieces of content that will inspire you, perhaps even helping you hone some of the skills I just talked about.