After working in marketing in various capacities including, big brand management, running my own content marketing agency and now leading marketing at Trov, a Bay Area startup, I’ve learned a lot about what skills are needed to be an effective marketer. While there are many important skills, I’ve distilled my thinking down to four key traits that I believe are critical to being successful in a marketing role today. Not surprisingly, these are also the primary things I look for when making new hires.
1. Phenomenal Storyteller
Anyone can write “excellent communicator’ on their resume, but that doesn’t mean they are actually good at it. The core medium for telling brand stories today is by writing and every marketer should have a strong level of comfort with this. They don’t have to be literary geniuses, but they must have the ability and confidence to string sentences together for blogs, social posts, ad copy and more. Further to writing, as photo and video become increasingly prevalent means of communication for companies, the ability to execute visual storytelling is absolutely critical. So, if you’re a marketer and you shy away from outwardly communicating in these ways, I’d highly recommend beginning to hone these skills now.
2. Passionate Strategist
This one might seem a bit ‘buzz-wordy’, but without strategic thinking you are really just an executor who is given instructions and carries out a task. A successful marketer must be able to challenge norms, look at the big picture and take risks to solve problems. Marketing at its very foundation is about differentiation versus being cookie-cutter versions of other companies. That being said, a key point to highlight here is that it isn’t solely about being a ‘strategic thinker’ rather the thinking must translate to communication and implementation of those ideas – which is much more difficult than many might think. Strategy without implementation is just pie-in-the-sky bullshit.
3. Obsessive Analyst
In today’s world, there is NO excuse for not measuring. Marketers previously had this excuse with TV, Print and Radio as it was near impossible to effectively tie campaigns directly to sales. Marketing is a mix of Art & Science, with the value proposition/insight & creative being the Art and the analysis and optimization of campaigns being the Science. Almost everything in marketing can be tracked, tested and optimized to drive towards particular business objectives. Today’s marketer must not settle for anything less than comprehensive metrics across all activity AND they should be accountable for them.
4. Digital Hack
This one will likely raise the most eyebrows from traditional marketers, but digital media is today’s primary means of communication and there is a constant influx of new platforms. From Meerkat to Marketo, marketers must be willing to openly experiment with new platforms and ideas. I believe that marketers should be relatively competent in all forms of digital communication – which means a basic level of understanding of HTML and CSS and other digital media platforms. No need to be an expert developer, but code is only going to become more important as time goes by and those that have some fluency in it will be invaluable for organizations. At the end of the day, this one is about being able to effectively leverage new digital media to get things done.
Competent Conductor (Honourable mention)
One additional skill that is worth a mention is the ability to harness the resources of specialists in the fields of copywriting, design and development. As an organization scales, the 2015 Marketer must be able to produce by effectively leveraging the skills of a specialized team. In order to do this, they must have a basic understanding of all of these fields and what is required for this type of work. Thoughts? Did I miss anything? Would love to hear what you think in the comments. By the way, I’m hiring for a senior marketing role at Trov, so if you’re interested (and have the above chops) send me an email at email@example.com and let’s grab a coffee.