Marketing has been forever changed by the advent of the internet and the explosion of social media outlets like Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tik Tok, and others. What was once an industry dependent on television commercials, magazines, and newspapers has now turned digital, with a tiny percentage of the output making it to a traditional medium like print. With this change in format comes a shift in the types of skills successful marketers must have to compete in this burgeoning industry. Advanced knowledge of areas such as search engine optimization (SEO), long and short-form blog posts, email blasts, and content management systems (CMS) are just a few of the myriad of technological skills today’s marketers must have to succeed.
Along with the technical skills needed for this exciting career, soft skills are also required, such as creativity, communication, and collaboration to name a few. These skills allow marketers to communicate with their teams and other stakeholders to create an effective and engaging campaign. There are many areas of marketing where soft and hard skills are a necessity, such as customer research, graphic design, and producing engaging content. Developing skills in one area of marketing will help any individual move throughout the industry and eventually move into higher-paying and more challenging positions.
Five soft skills for marketing
Experience in almost any industry lends itself to using soft skills. These attributes include creativity, interpersonal skills, communication, and critical thinking. Someone who works in customer service will know how to speak to consumers clearly and directly and listen to concerns and questions with an open mind.
All marketing roles require creativity to some extent as they require taking an idea and finding engaging ways of introducing it to new and existing customers. Some positions, such as social media coordinator or writer require creativity daily. The individuals in these roles need to find new content regularly and package it in a way that makes it seem fresh and new. Ways in which marketers use creativity include producing short videos for campaigns, creating blog posts regularly, and identifying new market research techniques, among others.
Creativity in marketing allows brands to set themselves apart from competitors and makes them stand out in the marketplace. If a campaign is successful and creative, it will engage the target audience in a meaningful way. Innovative marketing campaigns generate excitement and lead to the audience sharing the buzz with others and increasing interest in the brand. Out-of-the-box thinking leads to great marketing campaigns that stay with the audience long after the campaign has ended. Jingles that are catchy and have the viewer humming along are one example of how creative and engaging marketing can create a lasting impression.
Creativity can also help marketers keep up with the latest trends and preferences in consumerism. Brand preferences can change quickly, and marketers who can come up with new ways to integrate current events into their campaigns will hold the audience’s attention.
Successful marketers can gather quality research in large quantities by engaging consumers to do surveys, test a product or service, or offer a free trial. When a marketer knows how to conduct research, the data can go a long way to developing an effective and engaging marketing campaign.
Social media listening tools are a great new way to gather research easily by tracking mentions of a specific brand or service. These tools break down aspects of a marketing strategy into quantifiable segments so the user can look at the data and quickly understand what it means. Marketers also collect data by conducting market research on their competitors and finding out where the deficiencies in their own strategies lie.
Keyword research is another useful tool that allows a digital marketer to determine whether the current campaign is reaching the target audience and properly placed for search engine optimization. It involves finding and analyzing keywords or keyphrases that users type in to find a specific product or service and ensuring the current campaign uses those words.
There are other careers where skills such as creativity, research, and writing come into play. If someone is looking for a career change to marketing, they may find they have more transferable skills than previously imagined. Online classes with accredited schools such as St. Bonaventure University can provide the tools necessary to succeed in a new career like marketing, and allow students to work full-time and study on their own schedule.
Communication consists of listening to what the customer is saying in addition to communicating new and engaging ideas. When the customer is experiencing an issue with the marketing or expresses a desire to be engaged in a new way, that information is crucial to a marketer and must be considered. Listening to the consumer requires patience and empathy, especially when the feedback changes the direction of the marketing campaign. Listening also involves being able to discern between useful feedback that can benefit the campaign and criticism based on one person’s point of view.
Social media listening plays an important role in communication as it allows the marketer to collect data on comments consumers leave in their posts. Marketers can also track the metrics of a site to find out how much time users spend on certain online pages and gather information on their habits. This type of communication is indirect in that it does not have any face-to-face components but still tells the marketer a substantial amount about their target audience.
Being a marketer requires excellent communication skills in dealing with target audiences, team members, and other stakeholders involved in the campaign. The ability to communicate ideas in a clear, concise, and engaging way is invaluable when it comes to promoting an idea. Clear communication ensures everyone gets the same information and eliminates mistakes and confusion.
Strong communication includes responding to consumers’ concerns openly with respect and empathy, formulating concise emails to team members about upcoming events, and presenting data and other metrics to stakeholders such as executives and board members. Strong communication is key when working in the marketing industry.
- Analytical and critical thinking
Marketers use analytical and critical thinking skills in campaigns to make sense of data and identify trends, patterns, and insights that can inform their campaign strategy. They must also use intense market research to critically analyze market trends, consumer behavior, and demographic data. This allows them to understand how their product or service fits into the market.
Analyzing the competition is an important step in creating effective marketing campaigns. Marketers need to have a solid understanding of their competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and overall market positioning to develop a successful campaign strategy. These strategies often involve creative problem-solving and the ability to think critically to identify potential roadblocks and develop innovative solutions to overcome them.
Analytical and critical thinking skills are essential for marketers to gather and analyze data, understand the market, create effective campaign strategies, and solve problems. Marketers can also do this by using software to compare social media metrics monthly and determine what type of post is the most engaging. Marketers interpret user research to answer questions that users may not be able to find on competitors’ sites.
No one is an island, and in order to create a successful marketing campaign, teams must work collaboratively. Marketers need to work with many different people, including their own team, as well as those who work in software engineering, data mining, and sales. All these stakeholders offer different perspectives and skills to the campaign, and a successful marketer is smart enough to listen openly and incorporate the feedback. A truly unique, creative, and engaging marketing campaign can happen when all stakeholders work towards the same goal. Marketers are responsible for making that happen by clearly communicating their vision and accepting new ideas on how to implement it.
Examples of how marketers collaborate with other stakeholders include a marketing team partnering with graphic designers to create engaging brand content using images. Another is a content marketing team collaborating with product development to address consumer concerns. Many collaborations must take place to have a successful marketing campaign.
Technical marketing skills
Good marketers need to have technical skills that extend beyond the marketing field. To collaborate successfully with other stakeholders, marketers need to understand the programs and tools that those stakeholders are using. This knowledge helps those in marketing communicate more effectively with individuals in different types of roles. Additional technical skills can help marketing pinpoint any deficiencies in the campaign and discuss strategies for fixing any problems.
Strong writing is crucial in any marketing position, and understanding how to write engaging messaging is key in this industry. Understanding how to communicate on a broad level as well as a more focused one, is imperative when trying to get a message across. Strong writing skills can also help provide constructive feedback and relay it clearly and concisely.
Other ways that writing is important in marketing include drafting social media posts and revising them to fit the platforms, writing long-form blog posts, and reviewing landing page descriptions for products.
- SEO and SEM
Both search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are designed to improve the visibility and traffic of any website. Understanding how search engines work and designing marketing materials that help with the flow of traffic to the site is crucial to being a marketer today. There are software applications that can also help marketers make more informed decisions about things like a company’s online presence, digital content, and consumer needs.
- CRM and marketing automation
Customer relationship management (CRM) software helps track a consumer’s journey on the website and through the purchase process and ensures the consumer is successful in making a purchase. Marketers engage with consumers through social media, email, and online ads. Usually there are different teams for each of these areas, and marketing automation and CRM help keep these aspects of the campaign separate and working smoothly.
- Content management system (CMS)
Knowing CMS in marketing allows teams to make updates and add new content to websites without having to sift through huge amounts of data. Marketing professionals should know how to work in CMS platforms so they can manage their content and teach others on their team.
- Data collection and visualization
Some marketers use data collection and visualization tools to help them understand the website traffic and customer demographics of the competition and their own site. Understanding this data can allow marketing professionals to adjust their strategy and develop specific insights.
Marketers who understand the latest graphic design software will be able to collaborate on a higher level with others on the team responsible for designing. Knowledge of graphic design interfaces, layouts, color, editing, and other areas of design is crucial for a marketer to make more informed decisions and offer specific feedback to their teams.
- Social media
Marketing is impossible nowadays without engaging in social media. Knowledge of all the platforms and how to engage the audience on each is crucial to a successful marketing campaign. Understanding the target audience for the brand and posting on appropriate social media sites is an area that any marketing professionals will be familiar with because they want to engage as many customers as possible.
Marketing is a dynamic, challenging, and exciting career that provides an outlet for creative thinking. A good marketer must communicate effectively, collaborate with others, and perform relevant research that helps with the campaigns. Technical skills such as search engine optimization and content writing are also key in creating a successful marketing strategy to engage consumers and be competitive.