Growth Hack Your Marketing Career For 2016
How do you take your marketing career to the next level? Columnist Mary Wallace discusses shifts in the marketing technology landscape and the skills you'll need to get ahead in 2016.
The role of marketing has changed immeasurably over the past decade. With this revolution comes the opportunity for marketers to catapult their careers into new directions and amazing opportunities.
As always, skills are the fulcrum point for a career trajectory in changing times. For marketers, it’s all about the “building block” skills, or those that empower them to craft strategies — skills to design and deploy campaigns, skills to build marketing infrastructure and processes and skills to create content and analyze results.
Of equal importance are the skills needed to build, lead and participate in teams, as well as to work cross-functionally across the organization.
As we see 2015 draw to a close and 2016 move nearer on the horizon, here are four skills that can help marketers take their careers to the next level.
According to Marketo, 39 percent of marketing executives are seeking talent in the areas of digital engagement and marketing operations and technology. As future customers stay hidden longer, the skills of the technologist are driving engagement through marketing automation, predictive analytics and SEO.
The marketing technology landscape continues to expand. There are more and more layers in the martech stack, and more tools are available.
To grow, marketers must have a working knowledge of those components and how they fit together. Without this skill, marketers are limited in the extent that they can push campaign design and execution.
Marketers must know the latest technology standards. This is especially true given that the bulk of the lead-generation effort takes place through the internet.
They must also know what responsive design is and why it improves UX. They should understand appropriate security measures and how to protect lead data.
How and why a purchase is made is changing — and with it, the responsibility of marketing. Faced with a new set of challenges, leading marketers must figure out how to creatively solve problems.
For example, with so many channels to communicate through (e.g., mobile, social, apps) and the proliferation of intent data, marketers need the skills to creatively analyze data to determine which channels to use to communicate and when.
Skills in creativity go beyond the unwalked path. Creativity is needed to tell the brand story that attracts and engages leads.
As brand ambassadors, marketers need ingenuity and vision to protect the vitality and integrity of the brand.
Hone Your Analytical Skills
As customers continue to exert control over purchasing decisions, they are leaving a trail of digital body language (data) that can be harnessed to better reach, engage, convert and retain them. This means marketers no longer need to guess at what’s working and how to improve on their results.
One of the hottest trends in marketing is analytics: mining and analyzing data to find out what’s working, what customers are doing and what impact campaigns are having.
Analytics skills — using big data/data warehouses and tools like Tableau or Qlikview — are required to validate and investigate. Skills are needed for transitioning from analysis to intelligence, driving customer stories through metadata and understanding customers from multiple perspectives.
Just as important, analytical skills are needed to create models that validate the marketing organization’s worth to the business and the impact of campaigns on revenue and growth.
Sharpen Your Communication Abilities
Almost every job opportunity out there has a requirement for strong written and oral communication — because communication ties the pieces and people together and enables an organization to define and execute a strategy or create and follow a process.
Strong communication skills are key to marketing success. Written and verbal communications clarify goals, responsibilities, due dates, plans and success.
Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, recommends in a blog post:
[blockquote]Start with curious listening. Understand the needs of the individuals you’re communicating with, choose the right channels, and craft your points accordingly. The career payoff will follow.[/blockquote]
And don’t underestimate the importance of writing. Copywriting is one of the most important skills that a marketer can have.
Writing, the foundation of almost every marketing campaign, is a basic skill that can have a huge impact on career growth.
Regardless of the skills they hone, marketers who foster a positive working atmosphere will far exceed those who do not. Learn to be supportive.
Create a collaborative environment that incites the creativity and growth of those around you.
And learn to adapt to constant change and diverse work requirements. Adaptability is a key skill that should be displayed by marketers who want to continue their career growth.
Doing it all and being the expert isn’t realistic. But upwardly mobile marketers will have a working knowledge of technology and analytics.
They will have strong communications skills, and they will have a curiosity to embrace what’s around the corner in 2016.