Skills for the New Marketer

skillsI recently talked with my colleague Jon Pogact about the marketing department of the future. Our discussion touched upon the skills and duties of marketers. Then I got to thinking: What does a marketer do?

In a stroke of serendipity, a week later I came across the latest Marketing Smarts podcast, which happened to feature Laurence Shatkin, veteran writer and career research specialist, talking about marketing careers. In this episode, he offered ideas on what makes great marketers, emphasizing the diversity of the craft, the various paths they can take in the field or what can lead them to marketing in the first place.

I noticed he hit on the big themes of having a broader education, concentrating in math/science, understanding psychology and applying for a team, not necessarily a job. This last point is crucial: Marketing, like any other knowledge-based job, requires collaboration. It demands ‘soft’ skills and the ability to manage conflict or ‘creative differences.’ Those insensitive to the needs of others will have a difficult time spurring positive buyer reactions to their work … or co-designing strategy, messages and promotion in an increasingly interdependent, interdisciplinary world that demands the artful bridging of specialties.

As The Economist Intelligence Unit stated in last year’s “The Rise of the Marketer” report, marketers are more or less responsible for making the world go round. Indeed, the majority of marketers say in 3-5 years, they (or their department) will assume the lion’s share of responsibility for end-to-end customer service across the organization, meaning more responsibility than sales and customer service reps themselves, whose roles will proportionally diminish. This is a radical expectation, but one that shouldn’t surprise anybody who’s worked in this rapidly changing field for the last 5 years, where the explosion of mobile devices, social media and instant communication have changed user expectations for brands, organizations and websites. People expect seamless communication. They expect a good experience with your organization regardless of the channel. Marketers are now custodians of buyer experience, both within and beyond their organizations.

Marketer as data scientist

Furthermore, the same Economist report indicated C-suite plans to spend on technology, especially data and analytics to interpret the vast sea of information that is now measurable … offering tantalizing clues as to what people really respond to. This sentiment for throwing money into information technology echoes Shatkin’s remarks about the premium placed on marketers with math and research abilities. Suddenly science is quite sexy in marketing. Not only do data scientists command big dollars these days, but the boundaries of what constitutes that particular profession may be blurring into marketing (see Josh Dreller’s argument for paid-search-marketers-as-data-scientists).

All signs point to excitement if you’re a marketer today. Change helps you grow, and you should eagerly embrace change (and ideally, the growth that comes with it).


Photo courtesy of Peter Shanks via Flickr.

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