Like any other person out there, you’re eager to stay on top of your game, keep your reputation polished, and present yourself as a qualified, knowledgeable, and well-rounded marketing professional.
But, here’s the challenge you face: The marketing industry in particular is constantly evolving and shifting. Just think—only a few decades ago, experts in your same field were concerned with newspaper ads. You can bet that their daily to-do lists weren’t filled with social media strategies and email nurture campaigns.
Yes, there’s always something new to keep up with. And, while you make your living in marketing, learning how to best promote and position yourself in such a fickle field can often feel like trying to build a house in quicksand.
Fortunately, there are plenty of insights and resources out there to make this at least a little bit easier. It really all comes down to zoning in on those skills that will give your qualifications and your reputation (not to mention your resume and LinkedIn profile) a major boost.
What competencies do you need as a marketer to make yourself more, well… marketable? Here’s what experts say about how you can stay competitive in an ever-changing landscape—whether you’re currently job hunting or just doing your best to remain relevant.
Getting Technical: 5 In-Demand Skills for Marketers
1. Digital Marketing Strategy
This might be one of those skills that make you think, “Well… duh.” But, as marketing methods become increasingly digital, marketers who possess knowledge of digital marketing strategy have a competitive edge.
This skill is in increasing demand, according to the “Step Up Your Digital Game” report compiled by The Creative Group, a creative staffing agency that surveyed nearly 600 creative and marketing professionals with hiring authority, this skill is in increasing demand.
Digital marketing strategy ranks as the fourth most common area that marketers assign to outside agencies. But, having the internal talent to be able to handle digital marketing strategy in-house is far more efficient and cost-effective for companies.
Research from McKinley Marketing Partners echoes this conclusion. In fact, 56% of respondents who were planning to hire in 2017 stated that they would search for candidates with expertise in digital marketing.
2. Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing
We’re in the age of Google, and it’s tougher than ever before for companies to earn a competitive spot in search engine rankings.
But, it’s important that they do so. Considering that 39% of customers come from search—yet a whopping 75% of users never go beyond the first page of search results—companies are placing high priority on figuring out how to rank with search engines.
For that reason, marketing professionals who are at least proficient with SEO and SEM can gain a leg up in an already competitive field.
So, it comes as little surprise that LinkedIn’s analysis of hiring and recruiting activity on the platform back in 2015 revealed that these search engine-related skills were the fourth most in-demand when matched up against skills in all other industries.
Are you groaning and rolling your eyes yet? Whether or not marketers need to understand coding has been a hot button issue for years. But, here’s the truth of the matter: It doesn’t hurt to at least dip your toes in the water.
This skill is deemed so necessary that roughly half of the highest-paying jobs in America (in other words, those paying $57,000 or more per year) require applicants to possess at least some computer coding knowledge.
Don’t panic yet—this doesn’t mean you need to transform yourself into a coding whiz in order to stay relevant.
“There is no reason why you shouldn’t learn about code,” explains Evelyn Wolf in a post for HubSpot, “But I don't think a marketer should necessarily learn to code with the aim of becoming on-par with professional coders. In my humble opinion, you should leave specialized tasks to those who know how to do them right.”
So, the important thing here is to at least get a basic understanding. There’s no need to achieve “expert level” when it comes to coding.
4. Data Analytics
Of course, the best marketing campaigns have lots and lots of data at their core. And, the strongest marketers don’t just know how to read that data—they also know how to learn from it and implement it to optimize their marketing efforts.
According to that same report from The Creative Group, 71% of creative and marketing professionals say it’s challenging to find talent with up-to-date digital skills.
The number one skill they say is lacking on their own teams? Data science and data analysis.
While demand for talent to fulfill tried and true data science careers is only growing, there is a gap that marketers can fill themselves. “There are places where pure data science functions can fall short of what’s required to boost success in the marketplace,” shares Zach Brooke in an article for the American Marketing Association, “This is where marketers thrive.”
In other words, traditional data scientists—while undeniably important—can fall into the trap of getting so wrapped up in the metrics and analytics, that they miss the forest for the trees. However, marketers with a grasp of this skill set are able to use that information to make strides and really address business issues.
5. Content Creation and Strategy
I’ll spare you that tired “content is king” spiel. But, needless to say, content creation and strategy is a specific expertise that still ranks high when it comes to positioning yourself as a qualified marketing professional.
The same Marketing Hiring Trends report from McKinley Marketing Partners shares that, among those hired for digital marketing expertise, content creation and curation was the second skill in demand—right behind digital advertising.
Why? Well, we’ve already talked about how much companies value SEO—and consistently publishing valuable content is a surefire way to boost rankings.
Additionally, content marketing is just plain effective. Content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing, yet costs a whopping 62% less.
Hey… What About Soft Skills?
There are plenty of technical competencies—like the ones outlined above—that marketers should at least familiarize themselves with in order to stay competitive.
But, what about soft skills? Do those hold any water?
Yes, of course they do. “More than half (58%) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed by The Creative Group said hard skills and soft skills carry equal weight when they are evaluating candidates,” explains Domeyer, “23% said soft skills carry more weight than hard skills.”
So, what sort of non-technical expertise matters in the marketing industry?
“Today’s employers seek marketing professionals who can sell ideas, communicate clearly, and collaborate effectively with a wide range of colleagues and clients,” Domeyer adds, “Empathy and power of influence are also important. And, when recruiting for leadership roles, the ability to attract and retain top talent is key.”
Additionally, there’s no match for passion. If you’re someone who’s eager to stay on top of all of the emerging trends that frequently crop up, your enthusiasm and vigor will go a long way. “While the marketing industry continues to evolve, knowledge of industry best practices and trends is essential,” says Domeyer.
Over to You
Marketers who wish to make themselves more marketable don’t need to become bonafide experts in all of these things.
But, whether it’s through research, online courses, or even branching out to work with some different departments at your current job, it certainly doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with those other facets of marketing that you don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis.
When it comes to presenting yourself as a qualified and well-rounded marketing expert, it’s also important that you actively promote these new experiences and competencies—whether it’s on your resume, your LinkedIn profile, or a personal website.
“Marketing professionals should always showcase their most current skills, especially when applying for digital roles,” Domeyer concludes, “Employers want to hire talent who are keeping up with new tools and technologies and who show a continued desire to learn.”