We frequently hear how difficult it is for companies to attract and retain talent these days. But what about the flip side—those people who are looking for work, particularly in marketing? What skills do they need to make themselves not only attractive, but indispensable to a marketing organization?
It’s more involved than one might assume. Competency in content creation and lead generation is great, but marketers must possess a range of skills and competencies in order to develop comprehensive and effective marketing strategies that allow them to reach a wider audience and drive better results.
For example, someone skilled in both content creation and search engine optimization (SEO) can create high-quality material that also shows up high in searches and attracts more traffic to their website. A marketer who masters both social media marketing and analytics can use data to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and make data-driven decisions to improve those results.
Additionally, having a wide variety of skills makes marketers more adaptable and versatile, allowing them to assume a wider range of responsibilities and contribute in different ways to different parts of the business. For instance, a marketer proficient in both e-mail marketing and graphic design can create visually appealing campaigns that drive greater engagement and conversions.
So how can those looking for a career in marketing develop the skills required for a successful career? Following are the top 10 things that marketers in 2023 need to master to be considered essential.
1. Understand consumer behavior
In order to be an effective marketer, it’s important to have a deep understanding of the target audience, including their needs, wants and motivations. How do they behave? How do they make their purchasing decisions? What sorts of messages resonate with them? This applies regardless of what business you’re in, from high tech to consumer products. By understanding consumer behavior, you can create more effective marketing messages that specifically appeal to your target audience. It’s also important to remember that behaviors change over time, so it’s critical to continually refine these skills.
This skill goes hand-in-hand with understanding the customer. Good marketers not only understand their customer’s wants and desires, they are able to develop and execute effective marketing plans that align with business goals. A truly effective strategy includes defining objectives, creating timelines and schedules, determining budgets, and managing expectations.
Once the needs of the target audience are understood and a strategy has been developed, good marketers must be able to develop and maintain an effective and powerful brand identity that communicates the business proposition. This is not just logo management; it entails knowing brand guidelines (both visual and written), maintaining a consistent language, building brand awareness and loyalty, and monitoring brand compliance within the larger organization.
4. Content creation
Probably one of the most valued marketing skills is the ability to create informative, engaging and valuable content across various media. This can include graphic design, writing and storytelling skills, SEO expertise, social media capabilities, project management, and analytical skills that allows you to determine whether your content—written, visual or audio—is reaching your target audience and effectively educating them about your unique selling proposition.
5. Data analysis
While there is a tendency to think of metrics and data analysis as a somewhat modern discipline, effective marketers have always needed to analyze and interpret data to identify trends and gain insights that inform their marketing strategies. Understanding the various platforms and knowing how to interpret the data helps you determine whether your messaging is being heard. Setting goals and expectations is also critical; these benchmarks can help you measure progress and make the necessary adjustments to continue moving in the right direction. As the amount and type of information—including SEO data, social media interaction and form submissions—continues to expand, this skill is growing increasingly complex and difficult to perfect.
6. Social media
This requirement is definitely a more recent development, and younger applicants who have grown up with social media will find this skill much easier to master. Still, good management and organizational skills are a must, since marketers are required to juggle multiple social media accounts and create content that resonates with their audience(s). It’s not necessarily about having a presence on every available platform; instead, it's much more efficient to understand which platforms your target audience engages with and focus your efforts on those. It is also critical to stay up-to-date on the trends for each platform, since the content you post on, say, LinkedIn won’t be the same as what you post on Instagram.
7. Search engine optimization (SEO)
Another product of the Internet age, SEO requires marketers to understand how to optimize website content and structure to improve their organization’s search engine rankings and drive traffic to their website. This skill—which includes external link building, creating content that improves search results, implementing structured data, optimizing structured data and headers, perfecting meta descriptions, and adding images and internal linking—is equal parts art and science and takes time to become truly competent.
8. Paid advertising
No, not like Madmen—print and media advertising is old school. In this context, the notion of “paid advertising” refers to the ability to create and manage effective campaigns across multiple online platforms such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and others. In the modern marketing organization, this skillset is crucial.
9. E-mail and digital marketing campaigns
To supplement online advertising, marketers must also be able to develop effective e-mail and digital marketing campaigns that drive engagement and conversions. This requires understanding your target audience and knowing how to get them to open the e-mail or click on the link. To do this properly, it’s important to be knowledgeable about various platforms and strategies mentioned above, such as SEO, PPC and social media. It also helps to have good writing skills and a good understanding of consumer behavior.
10. Flexibility and adaptability
Change is inevitable. Therefore, truly effective marketers must be flexible enough to juggle multiple projects simultaneously and rapidly adapt to changing priorities, trends and technologies. Perhaps more than any other skill, the ability to change and a willingness to experiment and try new things will help you—and your company—stay ahead of the curve. Market research plays a critical role in this skill; knowing how to use social media, interpret SEO analytics, and perform regular web searches are the best ways to monitor industry trends and directions. Building connections also helps you keep your finger on the pulse of the industry to know what’s coming and what everyone else is doing.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed. But if you are planning a career in marketing, mastering these skills is the best way to secure a position that offers opportunities to learn and grow.