If you’re building a career in digital marketing, what are the skills that you can’t afford to do without? Which ones contribute the most to successful work, and why? This article looks at what you’ll need to have to make an impression on potential employers and, subsequently, to get their messages across to potential customers.
Many people outside the industry make the mistake of confusing marketing with advertising, but there’s much more to it than that. Marketing campaigns take in the full scope of customer engagement, whether you’re promoting an organization, a product or a service. You’ll need to think about the overall impression made on the public as a whole, and on target groups within it, by every aspect of what your company does. You’ll need to think about brand building as well as individual promotions, and tie everything together into a cohesive whole. You’ll need the skill and courage to recover from any mistakes and the wisdom to learn from them.
Every successful marketing campaign is rooted in a thorough understanding of its target audience so it’s vital to know how to design, conduct and analyze the results of market research. Even if your organization commissions this rather than undertaking it in-house, you’ll need to understand it in order to work effectively with the research company. When running a large-scale study, it can cost a lot to ask each question, so you’ll need to make them count. There are also low-cost ways to access information however, such as through feedback forms on your website, so it’s useful to know how to design these and encourage customers to use them.
Engaging with the public
There’s no point in going into marketing if you’re not a people person, but successfully connecting with the public in a professional capacity takes more than just being friendly and outgoing. You’ll need to be able to develop messages that people understand and are moved by. Also to create or learn to use a company voice that works with its wider brand, whether that’s playful and a little bit cheeky, sincere and authoritative, or something else. You’ll also need to be able to adapt that voice to suit different platforms, from email to text messaging to Facebook, Pinterest or WhatsApp.
Working with technology
With the volume of communications necessary to succeed in today’s world, it isn’t possible to do it all manually – you’ll just exhaust yourself. Wolverine Solutions Group offers some great tools that you can use to send out automated messaging which still feels personal, but this approach means that you will have to be comfortable working with technology and you’ll need to be able to think clearly about how to get the most out of it. You’ll also need to be able to make the most of the free built-in tools offered by social media platforms for automation, targeting and analysis.
Working creatively across multiple media
In larger marketing departments, staff tend to develop specialisms but if you’re working in a smaller one, then you’ll need to be a creative jack-of-all-trades, working with words, still images, video, music and more. Even if you do specialize, you’ll usually be able to operate more effectively as part of a team when you understand the jobs that your colleagues are doing. Because marketing has to keep up with popular tastes, you won’t be able to rest on your academic laurels but will have to keep on learning and developing your creative skills throughout your career – which is, of course, what a lot of people enjoy about the job.
Marketing isn’t all about being creative. You’ll also need to be able to think analytically, both during and after campaigns, in order to gauge their efficacy. Because campaigns can cost a lot of money, it’s not enough to go by instinct or to develop a qualitative impression of how well they connected with the public – you’ll need hard numbers on things like website visits, sales and campaign mentions in social media, and you’ll need to be able to explore the relationships between these things. This essential work will inform the way your campaign develops or the way the next one is designed.
As you’ll see from the above, marketing is a discipline that straddles the traditional arts/sciences divide and demands the ability to think holistically. Not only will you need to master the above skills, you’ll often need to employ several of them at the same time, especially during campaign development. In a small organization, you could find yourself required to do everything but in a larger one, good team working abilities count for a lot, and that includes the ability to anticipate and empathize with what other people are doing. This isn’t a profession where anyone can take it easy, but it’s a highly stimulating one in which success really is down to you.