What makes a marketer successful? However you answer that question, one thing is for certain—it’s a different answer than the one you’d give five years ago. The marketing industry lives in a constant state of evolution. New trends and technologies emerge regularly and quickly change the way we interact with customers and prospects.
Today, we take a close look at the most essential skills modern marketers must possess to keep up with the current marketing landscape. Whether you’re a marketing manager trying to build a more diverse team, or a recruiter looking for the perfect hire—these are the marketing skills to keep an eye out for.
For your convenience, we’ve broken this list up into two distinct categories—hard skills and soft skills. Let’s get into it!
Hard Skills for B2B Marketers
The term “hard skills” refers to skills that are specific and teachable—things like writing, math, language fluency, or typing. Unlike soft skills, which we’ll examine next, hard skills are tangible and quantifiable. Here are some hard skills that directly correlate with B2B marketing success:
1. Data analysis.
Data-driven marketing has become an essential component of business growth. In fact, 64% of marketing executives “strongly agree” that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hyper-competitive global economy (source).
Whether you work in content creation, product marketing, or lead generation, you must be able to measure and analyze your campaigns using specific metrics and data points. Unsurprisingly, hard skills in data and marketing are companies’ most sought-after skills in 2018 according to a recent LinkedIn report (source).
Of course, not every marketer will be a master of data analysis. But, all modern marketers must have a firm grasp on the various tools and metrics that can track and analyze their marketing initiatives.
Tip: When applying for marketing jobs, be sure your resume and cover letter contain specific reference to success metrics. Instead of saying, “I improved organic traffic to the company’s business website through different SEO initiatives,” say, “My SEO initiatives led to a 70% growth in organic traffic to the company’s business website, year over year.”
2. Writing and content creation.
Content marketing is a fundamental part of any well-rounded marketing organization. Consider these statistics:
- 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson (source).
- 84% of people expect brands to produce content (source).
- 91% of B2B marketers say they use content marketing in their overall strategy (source).
It’s easy to see why 23% of marketing departments identified content creation and curation as their most desired skill (source). Unlike other marketing skills, effective writing is a distinctly human skill that cannot be automated.
You may be thinking, there are plenty of marketing positions that don’t directly involve content creation. While that may be true, strong writing skills are a must-have in any marketing position.
Perhaps you don’t write blog posts or whitepapers, but you send emails, create social media posts, or respond to customer messages. Regardless of role or job function, a marketer must be able to effectively communicate their ideas and offerings.
Tip: When applying to any type of marketing role, be sure to emphasize your strong verbal and written communication skills. We also recommend including one or two writing samples—even if they aren’t required. Choose pieces that are similar to content you might create in the position you are applying for.
Modern customers conduct most business online—whether they’re researching products and potential vendors or simply looking for a piece of content. As a result, SEO has become ingrained in nearly every digital marketing initiative.
SEO is no longer a specialization for one or several team members to handle—all marketers should have a fundamental understanding of SEO best practices to help garner visibility within Google search results.
Tip: If you aren’t familiar with SEO, be sure to brush up on best practices before attending any marketing job interview. That way you’ll be prepared to answer any SEO related questions and can speak to the importance of SEO in the modern marketing department. Learn more about SEO here: 5 SEO Lessons for the Modern Content Creator.
4. Social media.
Social media has transformed the way people interact with brands online. Subsequently, it’s transformed the way marketers communicate with their target audience. Marketers use social media to accomplish a number of goals, from brand building to lead generation and revenue growth.
Most marketing teams have a dedicated social media team—but it’s critical that all marketing professionals understand how to effectively use social media. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn allow marketers to network, interact with customers and share valuable content. Not everyone will be an expert—but it’s no longer acceptable to be oblivious to the power of social media.
Tip: Before applying to a marketing job, take a look at your own social media profiles and be sure they look polished, professional, and put together. Although most hiring managers won’t admit it, they’ll likely do a quick google search of your name. If an inappropriate or unprofessional account appears, you’ll be quickly moved to the “no” pile.
5. Technological proficiency.
Technology continues to change the way marketers operate on a day-to-day basis. 55% of B2B companies use marketing automation as part of their strategy (source). And, marketing automation is just one of many tools that marketers use—other examples include web analytics, social media management tools, email marketing platforms, and many more.
All marketers, regardless of their role, will use one or several technologies every single day. Marketing professionals will often learn these tools along the way, but marketing professionals should have an established understanding of how to use technology alongside the work they do manually.
Tip: When applying to a marketing job it’s important to list the different tools and platforms you’ve used in past jobs. This will show the hiring manager you’re comfortable and familiar with common the average marketing technology stack.
Soft Skills for B2B Marketers
“Soft skills” are more difficult to quantify than hard skills. They include personal attributes like honesty, leadership, work ethic, and more. While soft skills are less specific and teachable than hard skills, they are often more indicative of how a marketer will perform in a given role. Let’s review some of the top soft skills a B2B marketer can have:
Modern marketers must constantly take on new tasks and responsibilities in reaction to changing markets. A team member’s role when they first join the team often looks very different a year—or even a few months—later.
On, paper a candidate can be a perfect fit for a role, but if they can’t quickly adapt to unforeseen developments, they won’t likely succeed in the position. Growth is critical to marketing success—and marketers should have the natural ability to leave old methods behind and pick up new tactics on the go.
Tip: When you’re applying for a new position be sure to showcase the growth you’ve made throughout your career. Whether via your resume or in person, explain how you’ve grown and changed in each position. Be sure to give specific examples of quick adaptation and flexibility.
As previously discussed, data analysis should drive the majority of modern marketing initiatives. But, marketers inevitably run into situations where they don’t have the data they need to make a decision. In these cases, instincts and intuition are often what separates the right decision from the wrong one. Marketers who know when to trust their gut and take action are a valuable asset to any team.
Unlike other soft marketing skills, intuition can be improved and fine-tuned with experience. As marketers learn more about their target audience and industry, they’ll have more perspective to back up their gut instincts. But if marketers lack the confidence to trust their own judgment, they’ll fail to make the quick decisions needed for some marketing initiatives.
Tip: Although this particular marketing skill is more difficult to demonstrate, you can express your intuition during an interview by giving examples of last minute decisions, keeping cool under pressure, or times when you went against the grain in order to achieve success.
3. Emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is defined by a person’s natural ability to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions—and their ability to understand and influence the emotions of others. It’s one of the most intangible, yet important, marketing skills an employee can have. In fact, recent studies found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, and accounts for 58% of success across all job types (source).
Emotional intelligence is particularly important in marketing. Marketers with strong emotional intelligence can recognize what makes a customer tick, what delights or frustrates them, and ultimately what motivates them to make a purchase.
Emotionally intelligent marketers are also able to empathize and relate to customers, which can contribute to more impactful messaging.
Tip: Demonstrate emotional intelligence during the job interview process by really listening to the person interviewing you. When it’s time to ask questions, make it clear you understand what the hiring manager is looking for. Here’s an example: During the interview, the hiring manager mentions they are looking for someone who works well as part of the team.
To conclude the interview, it would be appropriate to say something like, “It seems like your team thrives on collaboration and that’s really important to me in my next role. I enjoy a constant flow of ideas between teammates—after all, that’s how the best campaigns are created.”
This statement demonstrates understanding and also shows you have the emotional intelligence to appeal to the interviewer’s wants and needs for the role.
A strong marketing team does not consist of a group of individuals with independent objectives. Rather, marketing success relies on team members who work in unison to fulfill shared goals and achieve overall business growth.
A successful marketer has strong professional bonds with their colleagues—they observe their team members’ methods, share ideas, ask for feedback and offer assistance in difficult situations. And, marketers with strong collaboration skills develop a deep understanding of how their own role fits into the larger picture of the marketing team.
Tip: Demonstrate your ability to collaborate by sharing examples of different teams, projects, and committees you’ve led. Although you don’t want to credit all success to the overall group, hiring managers want to know you’re able to work with others to solve problems.
The importance of work ethic goes without saying—but curiosity is an equally important quality that often gets overlooked. For sustainable growth, you must pick up new marketing skills and information over time—and they can only do that if they are genuinely curious about their industry and career path.
Curious marketers don’t just focus on the task at hand. They venture outside their comfort zone, study up on industry trends, observe competitors, and often come up with the freshest or most unique ideas. Marketers with natural curiosity are always looking for new things to learn and new ways to improve. This makes them a valuable asset to any marketing team.
Tip: Demonstrate your curiosity during the interview process by expressing your interest in opportunities for growth. Explain your willingness to go above and beyond the job description. Make it clear you’re willing to learn new marketing skills and take on new responsibilities.
Key Takeaways on Essential Marketing Skills
We’re not saying all marketers must master the complete list of marketing skills above. It’s only natural to have strengths and weaknesses. A great marketing team isn’t full of identical employees. Instead, successful marketing teams contain individuals whose strengths and weaknesses mesh together to form one complete unit.
Lastly, remember to consider both hard and soft marketing skills. Experience and abilities are important—but it’s often the more personal, human qualities separate a decent marketer from an exceptional one.
For more information about improving your marketing and recruiting efforts, contact ZoomInfo today. Our sales team can explain the ins and outs of our contact database.