The must-have marketing skills in 2014

Two years ago I wrote about the top skills required to succeed in marketing in 2012. The skills I described remain imperative in a highly competitive marketplace. Employers are still seeking strong leadership, emotional intelligence and the ability to write across multiple platforms.

However, there has been an emergence of other highly sought-after skills for marketing professionals to have in their arsenal – employers are looking for a balance of functional skills such as digital, shopper marketing, innovation, insights and data analysis, as well as softer skills such as leadership, consumer psychology, curiosity and courage.

What employers want 

Functional skills

1. The Storyteller: Brands have become publishers and employers are looking for journalism-driven candidates who can deliver content across multiple platforms and in a variety of ‘voices’. Currently in demand are writers, who can deliver content for both B2B and consumer, online and social, corporate and conversational and in both short and long form. Understanding the role that digital and content marketing plays in the broader communications mix is vital for marketers who will need to be able to create content with different angles for numerous audiences.

The art of storytelling is about influence. Marketers need to influence internal teams to engage with the brand story, just as much as they need to influence external consumers to buy the brand. With social media leading to the personification of brands, it has never been more crucial for businesses (and particularly sales teams) to clearly articulate a brand story. Using storytelling devices such as analogies and anecdotes can allow marketers and sales people to respond intuitively to the market, and connect to customers on an emotional level, allowing them to influence purchasing decisions.

2. The Innovator: Recognising opportunity is no longer a trait associated purely with senior leaders. Organisations are beginning to see the benefits of identifying potential in junior recruits, nurturing them into great leaders for the long term.

The most appealing of junior to mid-level talent for leadership development are those who demonstrate a flair for innovation, coupled with strong commercial acumen.  Candidates can demand the attention of senior leaders by demonstrating how their non-traditional ways of thinking have assisted companies in the past. Ask yourself, what risks have you taken and how have they paid off?

3. The Data-savvy Marketer: Analysing data is one thing – understanding what it means for a business is another. Our clients are looking for talent who can take big data, understand the impact it has on what they are trying to achieve and make a clear plan based on the results.

Also in high demand are candidates who recognise and appreciate the relationship between marketing and technology, specifically the working relationship between the CMO and the CIO. They are after talent who understand how to get the best results from working collaboratively across both areas to deliver complementary, innovative campaigns.

4. Shopper Marketing and the Consumer Psychologist: Understanding the psychology behind consumer behaviour and the purchasing process has become a valuable skill in a competitive market.  Further to understanding consumer psychology, organisations are on the hunt for people who can influence buyer behaviour.  They are looking for candidates who can understand and harness the subtleties of shopper marketing and apply this to the planning and execution of campaigns.  Understanding the different paths to purchase for different sectors is critical and talent who can apply this knowledge will be highly regarded in the marketplace. 

 

Soft skills

1. The Strong Leader: Strong, smart leadership will forever be held in high regard and remains an important issue across all sectors, particularly after the GFC. In times of economic downturn, a business will only weather the storm by having resilient, innovative and emotionally intelligent leaders.

Our clients are looking for natural born leaders who hold within them the innate ability to take command and make difficult decisions when times get tough. There is a clear distinction between a natural leader and a manufactured leader. Manufactured leaders may have gone through leadership training and may be perfectly qualified to take command, but when times get tough, a manufactured leader may lack the intuition and experience to make good business decisions. By contrast, a natural born leader can act boldly, make decisions quickly and will have the confidence to stand by their decisions. Leaders who can demonstrate their resilience in times of uncertainty with strong examples of their decision-making, follow-through and end results will always be in high demand.

As retention becomes more of an issue for Australian organisations, businesses are on the hunt for leaders who can inspire, motivate and develop their teams so that productivity and morale remain high. After all, people leave poor leaders not companies.

2. The Curious: Forbes has reported that intellectual curiosity is one of the top five personality traits most sought-after by employers – and there is a good reason for this. Intellectual curiosity not only aids problem solving, but with the rapid evolution of business and technology, it enhances one’s ability to understand and adapt quickly to ‘the new’. In the eyes of employers, intellectual curiosity demonstrates passion and innovation. Someone who is passionate about learning will be enthusiastic about change in the workplace and open to adopting new processes and technology. Compare that to someone who begrudgingly approaches change and it’s clear who’s going to add more value.

 

Many of the above skills will come from prior experience, some will come naturally through instinct and emotional intelligence and others can be found by training, mentoring or up-skilling opportunities. Honing these skills takes determination; those who want to drive their career forward will naturally seek out learning and networking opportunities as they try to soak up as much knowledge and skills as possible. Those who don’t show the initiative will get left behind.

 

Christine Khor
BY Christine Khor ON 18 December 2013
Christine Khor is the managing director of Chorus Executive, specialists in talent management and recruitment services for sales, marketing and communications.