Keep updating your skills to match the accelerating pace of change: Marketers

03 Dec 2019

The capabilities of the marketer have had to evolve as quickly as the ecosphere has, and that change has been rapid.

With the pace of change accelerating marketers need to constantly update and evolve their skillset to keep up to date with trends.

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According to Mike Zeederberg, managing director of Zuni, and a lead instructor for a number of ADMA digital marketing courses, “Marketing has continued to evolve rapidly over the last 5 years, and the range of skills and capabilities required of marketers continues to diversify.”

He said that with the ever increasing variety of technology platforms, the continued growth in importance of data usage, and the evolution and expansion of channels, there is always something new.

“However, most of the time, it is the application of the core principles of marketing (know your customer, getting the right message to the right person at the right time, etc.) to these new emerging opportunities and channels that is where the gold lies, rather than simply experimenting with shiny new things.”

Marketers need to be across  a very wide range of skills including messaging and brand, technology, data, creativity, innovation, customer experience and understanding, research, tracking and metrics, marketing technology platforms, and the science of marketing.

“The list is never ending. This means that marketers face the challenge of either trying to keep across most or all of these topics at a high level, or becoming a deep specialist in a few key areas.”

Deciding where to focus, and what to invest scarce time into developing a deeper knowledge around is a key challenge, he said.

We spoke to marketers about the importance of constantly updating their skillsets, and they unanimously agreed a marketer needs to be constantly evolving as a professional to keep up with current trends.

Amanda Jones, CMO at Mirus Australia which operates in Australia’s aged care sector said keeping your skills up to date is not a cost of entry anymore to the profession. Instead it is the  cost of staying relevant, performance driven, data savvy and customer led.

According to Jones “Our customers across industry and sectors demand personalisation and tailored marketing to suit their needs, timelines, device preference and where they are in the buying cycle.

“Removing the friction for our customers requires both training on new distribution platforms and education around how, what and why we produce the content that we do.”

Over the past five years marketer’s skills have grown to be more digitally savvy. Teresa Sperti, founder of Arktic Fox and former World Vision CMO said, whilst historically organisations may have had centralised digital marketing team - digital expertise is now required by marketers more broadly as departments shift away from managing channels to managing customer at various stages of their lifecycle.   

“Skills and expertise in areas of human centered designed are also becoming more common place and expected based on the focus on customer. But it isn't just technical capabilities that have evolved - marketers ability to work cross-functionally with the business to solve customer problems is becoming a core requirement.”

Meanwhile, Shona Mathieson, marketing and partnership manager at cloud management solutions company Buttonwood said now is an ideal time to review your skills, find your skills gaps and research the best options for you to upskill through the correct course or qualification.

“There are so many options available that it shouldn’t take long to find the one that suits your needs. On the flip side, there is no point in learning a skill if it doesn’t interest you. Find an area of interest and roll with it.”

In the past five years Gary Nissim, managing director, Indago Digital said the company has had to understand new; publishers – TikTok within social media; consumer behaviour – voice search; hardware to target – wearable technology; measurements – instore traffic; and challenges – the decay of the cookie.

He said, “Digital marketers can no longer survive by simply understanding the theory, they need practical hands on experience. Even though their brains might be wired in one way they have to be able to converse and understand all aspect of the modern digital marketing world; technology, creative, analytics and strategy.”

Mathieson agreed saying the need to change has been extensive and is reflected in the increased focus on content marketing and marketing automation tools.

“These are designed to provide greater insights into our customer’s buying behaviour, but without the knowledge behind these strategies and tools, marketers are missing out on important information.

“The focus on ROI has never waned and is probably more relevant than ever now that it is so easy to prove marketing ROI.”

The pressure to improve capabilities

This need to upskill has put pressure on the industry, Mathieson said she has a personal pressure to keep up with the industry and continue her personal development.

In all industries, the shelf-life of skills is diminishing so most employees in the modern economy will be feeling pressure to ensure currency in skills and expertise, Sperti said. 

“However when you combine this with the rapid change that is occurring in the marketing space and the demands on  marketers to drive and lead a customer agenda it definitely heightens the level of pressure to evolve skills and expertise.”

Nissim believe many digital marketers are losing the battle, as their knowledge stays static whilst the complexities grow.

“For some there isn’t enough time in the day to fulfil the requirements of their job and keep abreast of what’s changing around them. To keep abreast, digital marketing has to be a pass time not a job. 

“Personally, I don’t leave work and immediately stop thinking about digital marketing. I leave work and start thinking about it.”

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