Updated: Jul 31
According to Econsultancy’s ‘Skills of the Modern Marketer’ report, only 46% of marketers in the UK have a marketing degree or other certified marketing qualification.
In the current economic climate can any business afford to have poorly trained and qualified marketers? It's taken a report by a leading website like Econsultancy to bring home the fact that the disparity between hard skills and soft skills in UK marketers is growing larger and has been highlighted in an interesting piece by Colin Lewis in Marketing Week.
The Marketers Skills Shortage
From my own experience working with different marketers I have found typically the people that make up a marketing team often fall in to one of three categories; Those that have fallen in to marketing for a variety of reasons, those that don't see it as a long term career option as it may not have been what they studied for, and the final group are those that may have studied a marketing qualification or devoted a number of years to their marketing career.
What ties these three groups together is often a lack of focus around learning and development even despite some businesses advocating a development culture. The constraints that perpetuate this lack of focus tends to frustrate the first group, speeds up the search for a new role in the second group and alienates the third group who wrongly believe marketing can't fulfil their career ambitions despite their enthusiasm.
I know this is a very broad brush approach as there are many companies who provide development options, training and a clear career path and many individuals who accept responsibility for the own career development. But lots don't and this is not only costly in terms of recruitment but also helps to promote poor productivity levels amongst marketing teams.
What are the top skills a Marketer needs?
The report also highlights the shortage of the skill sets of strategy, data and measurement, and even brand management which are all core technical skills in the marketing process.
I don't want to create a list of the top attributes and skills needed by a marketer as everyone has a different view but I did find a couple of very interesting examples including one on Econsultancy by Stephanie Miller who suggests the following:
1. Customer journey mapping
2. Integration of experience
3. Attribution-based allocation
4. Search optimization
5. Goal Setting
I think Strategy is a top five skill but would agree with Stephanie Miller that it may not be essential to all marketers. But having said that, Strategy should be understood by all marketers so they know its general direction and how their own role and performance can influence outcomes that support the strategy delivery.
Creating a Marketing Learning Culture
I am not an advocate of hand holding when it comes to team development. It is not a good way for people to learn. What does work in my opinion, is a combination of a clear development plan for each team member which includes on the job learning, workshops, webinars, projects and responsibility for part of the marketing process. These are balanced with clear goals and targets and regular and robust review.
In this super fast paced marketing world we live all live in with new developments happening almost every week it's important for all marketing managers and managing directors to take a moment to stand back and take stock. Each person in your marketing team was taken on for some very good reasons. But did you ask them at interview what they do to support their own learning? My experience has been this very important question is rarely asked.
So my advice is to start early and get people excited about a learning culture before they've even started their first day. Make development in your team or business a shared responsibility. Provide resources but also make sure you provide time on the job too. Equally each team member should reciprocate by investing time each month reading about marketing, attending learning opportunities and keeping up-to-date on the latest developments in their own time. Marketing isn't standing still so your team shouldn't either.
Responsibility for Learning is Yours
Responsibility for learning rests with us all. Managers, directors, CEO's and team members. Essentially a learning culture starts at the top. My message to CEO's would be to look at productivity and see how better trained people can improve this big measure. My message to everyone else would be, look at training as a way to get more out of your job, improve your earning capabilities and make yourselves more marketable. Nobody can lose.
Delivering a training environment has one huge impact. Customer satisfaction and better brand loyalty. Right across any business, trained people help the processes go better. In a marketing department, people can understand what is at the heart of any marketing strategy and how to deliver it. But above all trained people can keep the wheels turning in the right direction, producing the results needed to facilitate growth.
Stepping up to the Plate
It's time for all marketing professionals to take control of their own learning. If you are already doing something, do more and if you haven't done anything for some time you need to make a start and quickly. It should be very clear to everyone in this profession that change is not going to slow down and the digital skills shortage recruiters face isn't going to reduce until we embrace personal and group learning across every marketing team in the land.
It's not difficult to start creating your learning environment to brush up on the hard skills needed to keep up with the pace of modern marketing. There are a number of resources you can dive in to for a selection of learning options both as a business and an individual. Here are just a few:
The Chartered Institute of Marketing - CIM offer a wide level of learning options as part of their CPD learning. There are costs involved here but they provide long term benefits like "fellow" status and chartered status.
The DMA - The direct marketing Association have become something of a one stop shop resource for all things marketing. Again there is a cost to access the learning resource but the site itself should be on everyone's marketing reading list.
The Digital Marketing Institute - An alternative to CIM and often at odds with the other, the DMI offers a range of learning options which all cost money but they have a split blog for students and the industry and cover a wide variety of topics. Again add it to your reading list.
Thanks for reading...
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Stephen Moore FCIM, a Strategic Marketing Consultant and part-time Marketing Director living in beautiful Suffolk. I support businesses large and small in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and London. I have been writing about marketing developments for 20 years with articles in The Metro, City AM, Fresh Business Thinking, AllWork, The Marketer and Marketing Week.