Do you agree that marketers are in dire need of training, whether it’s on the basics of marketing or specific skills that help them on their career path? A recent survey thinks we’re at a crisis point in terms of skilled marketing talent. It’s time to address this shortfall with your marketing team. Jeff Clark with RockstarCMO colleague Ian Truscott, created the Five Essential Skills of Marketing to help.

A recent post in The Media Leader caught our attention; “Poor training, no purpose: why marketing faces ‘worst-ever’ talent crisis”. The words “worst-ever” certainly stopped the music for me. 

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and MediaSense surveyed advertisers, agencies, adtech companies, and media owners – a broad section of the marketing world – to come to this determination. Almost half (48%) agreed with the words “worst-ever crisis”. Sixty-eight percent said that calling the lack of adequate marketing talent a “crisis” was not an overstatement (74% in US).

Why Has Marketing Lost Its Groove?

From the data, I believe that you can put the reasons for this into three buckets: lack of training, lack of purpose, and no career path. 

Poor training was cited by 76% of respondents. This is certainly what I have experienced in my career. I helped build and deliver dozens of sales training classes, but marketing training amounted to sending someone to a seminar. There was never any serious budget for it. 

Sixty-eight percent noted a lack of purpose, which shows the importance of well developed, communicated and implemented marketing strategy and planning. Why are we working so hard? What does my job as a web developer or event manager have to do with our strategy? This also relates to the issue of poor client/agency behavior (61%). Conflicts with agencies result from poor client direction and/or letting the agency drive the process and then hammering them for bad results. 

Lastly, career paths are important in every line of work to motivate employees to develop their talents and see how they work their way up. But, survey respondents cited over-specialization (58%) and lack of talent management (76%) as key reasons that talent was going to other lines of work. We’re not creating well rounded marketers, who not only understand their current role, but how to leverage what they learn to get to the next level.

How Do We Get the Band on Track?

Marketers get into this line of work from a variety of paths. I got a degree in economics and started running education programs at a non-profit during the energy crisis. My RockstarCMO colleague, Ian Truscott, leveraged his technical skills into technical sales support roles. Somehow we both got to be marketing executives.

In Ian’s blog The Green Room: Marketing Education, we see the variety of takes on what it takes to be successful in marketing and the role of a marketing education. 

John Andrews says, “While the tools and platforms may change, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same. Nothing has served me better in my career than a firm grounding in the basic principles of marketing starting with an understanding marketing research and data.” 

The diversity of backgrounds is a good thing for marketers, but getting grounding on the basics helps marketers feel more satisfied with their current roles, as well as determine how to advance their careers. In the WFA study, 76% of respondents said that we need to invest more in internal talent management and 71% said that we need to train staff on the fundamentals to correct for over-specialization. 

The Five F’in Essential Marketing Skills 

Earlier this year, Ian and I addressed the marketing education challenge by enumerating five basic skills that all marketers should learn. These concepts are not pulled from marketing textbooks, but from what experience tells us. There are certain things that marketers need to know to work more effectively as a team. It’s like every member of a rock band must understand the roles of rhythm, melody and harmony, even if they don’t need to read music or have a degree in sound engineering. 

These fundamental marketing skills help everyone appreciate their role in the marketing mix.

These skill sets can form the basis of marketing enablement. It’s important for everyone in marketing to know the basic skill elements that comprise good marketing. And, it helps everyone appreciate their role in the marketing mix, like the lead singer appreciating what makes a good rhythm section. 

So, here they are in brief. Click on the hyperlinks to listen to our podcast discussion for each one and we’ll build these out in more detail for our Street Knowledge readers. 

One: Branding

Everyone in marketing needs to understand the importance of defining and nurturing a corporate brand, and projecting it consistently. If you don’t, the team is literally not singing from the same song sheet, and you confuse the customer. It’s like a rock band sitting around the studio and defining their sound. Who are we? Where are our roots? What’s our style? Is there an image that we are building on or breaking away from? 

Two: Market Research 

Marketers need insight on the customer. How do you get an accurate picture without research? Brand studies, focus groups, social intelligence, interviews; these are all sources of insight. It helps create the muse for our marketing. Who is our primary buying audience? What do they need? How do they talk about it? Do they know us and like what we do? You don’t want to be that band that signs to empty bar halls. 

Three: Communications 

We’re not talking about the function. We’re talking about the importance of storytelling. How do we connect the customer’s need to our value proposition? How can we leverage our muse (market research) and our brand to tell a story that is both honest and compelling. And, this isn’t just writing the songs. We have to make sure the vocalists are armed with great stories. That includes the influencers and analysts who are covering our tunes, so to speak. 

Four: Customer lifecycle  

Every customer grooves to a different beat, and we need to engage the audience in the arc of a story. What is their buying process? How do they gain information to address their needs? Who is involved in the buying process at different stages? What’s the post-purchase lifecycle? Marketers need to know which engagement tactics and content work at different stages in the customer’s lifecycle.

Five: Marketing Operations

Every good band needs a production crew for recording and a road crew for touring. There are technology, process, data and skills challenges that require an operations mindset. It’s critical that marketers understand these challenges and partner with the ops colleagues to make sure that sound and the story is effective and efficient in engaging the customer. You don’t want to be that one-hit wonder that crashes and burns. You’re in this for the long haul. 

Photo courtesy of Elements5 Digital.

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