Being a successful marketer takes more than just marketing know how.
You need to draw on skills from a number of different disciplines from tech to project management to finance. You definitely didn’t get that as part of your degree unless it was a quintuple major. So here are 33 marketing skills that you’ll need to hone if you want to be truly great at marketing and your craft.
If you’re a marketing manager, then more than likely you’re also managing a team. A key part of your job is to make sure that team is made up of the people who are best qualified to fulfill your client or stakeholder needs. When putting a team together, you need a full range of perspectives to have multiple voices and ideas at the table. You don’t want to recycle the same old ideas over and over.
When you’re a market analyst or a marketing assistant, it’s your job to complete whatever tasks you get. But when you become a manager you become responsible for more tasks than you have time to complete. It’s your job to make sure they get done, not to do them yourself. You need to learn to delegate those tasks to the right people to ensure they’re implemented well and on time.
A good manager knows how to get the most out of their team. Whether that means giving someone constant encouragement or leaving them to work independently, it all depends on the specific people on your team and what they respond best to. Good leaders treat every person on their team as an individual. They know each of them well enough to play to their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.
4. Risk Management
This doesn’t just mean not taking risks! All marketing campaigns, no matter their size, shape, or color, have a level of inherent risk. There’s always the chance your audience won’t get the sail/sale pun, no matter how many focus groups you run. So what you need to do is judge whether specific strategies offer enough potential return on investment in order to outweigh the risks they pose. And always, ALWAYS, have a back-up plan in case something goes wrong.
Let’s look at all the different groups you’re communicating with as a marketing manager:
- the audience
- your team
- the client
- upper management
- outside contractors
And that’s just the beginning. Each of these groups requires a different type of communication and you need to speak it fluently.
In business, anything can change at a moments’ notice. The marketing plan gets updated, the company pivots, there’s a huge event, there’s a merger and/or an acquisition. What’s a skill you would definitely need? Flexibility.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to market a product you know nothing about. Or you’ll be asked to market to a demographic you know nothing about. You need to be able to learn about the market and the audience or you’ll have more than a little trouble coming up with effective marketing strategies.
The people whose products/companies you’re marketing will sometimes ask you to do things that are simply impossible. If you can’t talk them around to a more realistic approach, no one’s going to come away happy.
9. Giving Feedback
As the leader of a team, your opinion of people’s work is extremely important, so it’s vital you know how to give constructive criticism. If someone presents you with copy that’s not quite right, you need to be able to communicate to them what they need to do to bring it up to standard.
Chances are that you landed your job as a manager because you have a wider range of skills and experience than the rest of your team, but you’re not going to succeed as a manager by hoarding all that knowledge. Your success is measured by the success of your team. You need to use your skills to make the people around you better than they were when they arrived.
In your management role, you may spend more time creating schedules and chasing deadlines than designing images or brainstorming new ideas. But it’s still important to emphasize creativity. As the leader of your team, your approach will trickle down to everyone else. If everyone else gets the impression your tastes skew towards traditional, straight forward, boring work, then that’s what they’ll give you. And let me be clear, that’s NOT what you want.
12. Time Management
It’s not just your own time you need to manage. It’s up to you to keep track of the members of your team as well. This includes:
- Setting Deadlines
- Creating Schedules
- Sending Reminders
- Charting Progress
13. Public Speaking
Running meetings. Making pitches. Presenting to clients. What do those have in common? Public speaking. You’re going to have to do it. So work on it and get better at it.
14. Data Analysis
The amount of data now available to us is mind boggling. But if we don’t know how to use it then there’s no benefit to it. If you can look at the numbers and interpret how to incorporate them into a marketing strategy then you’re at an immediate advantage.
No company in the world has an unlimited marketing budget, not even Coca Cola, so it’s up to you to figure out how to get the most out of the resources you have.
Technology moves faster than Usain Bolt. I certainly can’t keep up with it, but if you can then you’ll always be a step ahead of the competition. Remember to build out a great tech stack and stay up to date on the latest tech advancements and trends.
Marketing isn’t just about ad campaigns and audience awareness, it’s also about knowing where your product fits into the market. This includes what price point those products should be marketed at, which is not necessarily the price they’re worth, but the price that ensures the highest profit.
As a manager, your job isn’t to be an expert in any one subject. Your job is to listen to the experts you employ and use their knowledge to make the best possible decisions. Like Kendrick Lamar says, “Be humble.” As soon as you think that you know best, you’re wasting the expertise you have available.
A good manager can see both the big picture and the small details simultaneously, and know how they fit together. As soon as you focus too much on one, the other will begin falling apart.
If customers can’t find your product when they’re looking for it, then you’re in trouble. But if you can get your website to the top of the Google search results you’ll start drawing in customers you never even thought of marketing directly to.
21. Social Media
You might have a social media person, or even a whole team dedicated to it, but it’s still important for you to understand what it is exactly they’re doing and why. Social media is a more important aspect of marketing than ever before and it’s only getting more powerful. To properly incorporate social media into a wider marketing campaign you need to understand how the different platforms work and how to optimize your use of them.
22. Marketing Automation
The thing about marketing is that there’s always more you could do, no campaign is ever perfect. So instead of spending precious time on the laborious task of sending out email blasts and sending form responses, automate those tasks to give yourself and your team more time to focus on marketing rather than administration.
23. Sales Enablement
No matter how well designed your ads or how wide your reach, a campaign can’t succeed if it doesn’t translate into sales. Helping with the right materials, pitches and approaches will score one in your favor with the sales team.
You may not be a designer yourself but you at least need to have enough knowledge to:
- Explain to your designers what you want from them
- Recognize what’s working and what’s not
- Give designers feedback on how they can improve a draft
- Explain to clients the thinking behind your team’s designs
To be honest, the more design knowledge you have the better. Maybe it would be best if you were a designer…but who has time for that? (See #2).
25. Problem Solving
Guess what? Not everything is going to go according to plan. And since you’re in charge, when something goes wrong the responsibility ultimately falls on you. So you’d better be calm under pressure and have the logic skills to deal with any problem that comes your way.
26. Client Management
It’s your designer’s job to explain to you why they chose that particular photo for the website banner. It’s your job to explain to the client how this photo will draw their customers’ attention. Those two explanations are not always the same. You’ll also need to be able to explain why a campaign didn’t reach the goals you had initially set without losing the client’s faith.
27. Being Concise
This is an important skill for anyone working in marketing, but even more so for a marketing manager. You want your words to matter. Not only do you need to make sure the content your team produces is efficient, you also need to be able to summarize the information you get from clients to communicate it to your team and vice versa.
I’m not talking about networking to find opportunities and build relationships for yourself (though that’s important). This is about networking for the benefit of your company and your team. Developing strong relationships with potential clients, team members, and outside contractors is key to maintaining consistent business and quality work.
29. Decision Making
As a manager your job is essentially to make decisions and then follow through and make sure your choices are implemented. That follow through can’t happen if you can’t make up your mind. The time it takes you to make your decision is time your team members aren’t working towards the final outcome. The more quickly you make decisions the more quickly tasks can be completed, but always remember: it takes longer to fix a bad decision than to make a good one in the first place.
30. Defining Parameters
- Who is your target market?
- How can we tell if we’re on the right track?
- What milestones do we need to reach?
- What constitutes success?
A good marketing manager can answer all of these questions quickly and definitively so that everyone involved knows what they’re trying to achieve.
If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. The ways we market to customers are constantly evolving. If you’re not thinking in the future, you’re stuck in the past.
32. Taking Criticism
No one said being a marketing manager was going to be easy. You’ll be lucky if a day goes by without someone complaining about something you’ve done wrong. The best managers are the ones that can take that criticism and, instead of being demoralized by it, use it as motivation to work even harder to succeed.
You’ve just read about 32 different things you should be focusing on in your job. You might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. It’s easy to get worn down by the grind office life, which is why it’s essential to inject some fun into the proceedings. If you can manage to make your workplace somewhere that your team enjoys being, they will be infinitely more productive, and your quality of life will be all the better for it.
Off To Market We Go
If you think you’ve already mastered all of these skills, you’re lying to yourself. There’s always room to improve. No one’s perfect, except Beyonce. And don’t worry, with technology developing at the speed it is there will always be new skills that you need to come to grips with.
Which of these skills do you need to work on the most? Are there any you think I missed? Let me know in the comments.