According to research conducted for Econsultancy’s new Skills of the Modern Marketer Report, marketers are attributing more value than ever to so-called ‘softer skills’, alongside the more traditional vertical expertise that recruiters look for.
In the research for the Skills of the Modern Marketer report, senior level marketers have come up with 15 essential skills, organized into three 'top five skills lists' for marketing. There are three lists because when respondents were asked about the skills essential to marketing there was a surprising focus placed on the soft skills. So, in addition to the usual broad knowledge areas and vertical skills areas, marketers need the right soft skills to be able to work across the organization. The best ideas will founder without buy-in across the organization and support from multiple teams, says the report
Findings from the research reveals a growing importance in some vertical skills, particularly those related to content, mobile and social. Some broader skills areas, most notably customer experience, content and data, are also perceived to be among those growing most in significance for the organizations surveyed.
Essential Skills For Marketers (% of Respondents;)
Social Media activity
Source: Econsultancy, May 2014
Interviewees spoke of the need to combine digital expertise with classic marketing knowledge and approaches, but also of a heightened relevance of skills and behaviors such as adaptability, articulation and persuasion, hunger to learn, collaboration, creativity, data-driven decision making, empathy, curiosity and passion. Self-motivation and continuous learning were felt to be important in the context of a continually changing environment.
Marketers are already recognizing a high degree of complexity in their roles, but many feel underprepared in terms of skills to deal with the degree of change they see coming down the line. It was however, the increasing emphasis and priority given to ‘softer’ marketing skills, notably reflecting a number of the areas mentioned in the Modern Marketing Manifesto, that was perhaps most interesting.
When respondents to the survey were given a pre-selected list and asked to rate which softer skills were most significant, those that scored most highly as being ‘very important’ included the ability to embrace change, to spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly, and also being passionate, curious and hungry to learn.
Key Soft Skills For Marketers’ Effectiveness (% of Marketers, May 2014)
Ability to embrace change
Spot opportunities and adapt strategies quickly
Being passionate, hungry to learn, curious
Open and collaborative
Ability to deal with uncertainty
Lateral thinking, connect disparate ideas/concepts
Comfortable taking risks
Source: Econsultancy, May 2014
Some overarching areas of focus, most notably an aptitude for content and content marketing, a solid commercial sense and customer focus, and a broader understanding of digital channels, were seen to be relevant for all modern marketing roles.
But, concludes the study, the key softer skill mentioned most by interviewees was articulation and persuasion: the ability to appreciate the broader context of digital roles, functions and activity; to communicate their value in compelling, jargon-free ways to the rest of the business; to understand wider business requirements and interpret these into digital solutions; to work effectively with other non-digital teams and traditional marketers to bring them on-board with strategies.
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