As you shift your organization to be both more analytical and customer-centric, you need to ensure that your people have the requisite skills to perform in the new kinds of roles you’re creating. And that takes two components: incorporating a different filter for hiring new employees, and also assessing your current staff to see if they have the desire and capability to evolve and embrace the new analytical skills they’ll need.
“We know that pure data people rely more on the left side of their brains, while more classically trained marketers are more right-brained,” says Jennifer Chase, senior marketing director at SAS. “Building the analytically driven marketing organization is all about bringing the left and right sides of our brains together. You may excel at one side of your brain more than the other, but need to have an appreciation for both.”
Marketing managers must look for evidence of different skills and experience in evaluating both applicants and current employees interested in becoming analytical marketers. But what to look for is open to debate. Here are some thoughts:
Social media skills. Social media dramatically change the buyer-seller-influencer dynamic. But only those actively participating in social media tangibly appreciate the differences between old-style, one-way media conversations and group interactivity.
Journalism and storytelling skills. With buyers getting the majority of their information from the web, and with potential sales an increasing priority, there’s no end to the need for juicy, targeted content. Storytelling also comes into play in campaign design.
Process design skills. Automation is just beginning to penetrate the market. As anyone who has been part of a reengineering effort can attest, it’s not the automation that increases productivity. It’s the process changes that automation enables and enforces. Deploying marketing automation will require skills such as process modeling, project management, the ability to train and manage change, and ease with technology.
Data and analytics skills. Technology captures and makes available enormous amounts of data about buyer and seller behavior. A marketer must be a data guru with a passion for analytics and curiosity.
Domain expertise. Customers don’t care about our products. They care about themselves and their problems. Building a bridge between our products and the customer requires knowledge of both realms.
Collaboration and exceptional communication. These skills are not mutually exclusive. On just about every job posting these days, you will see that “communication” skills are a must. Communication has a different meaning for marketers in our world. Traditional communication skills need to be supplemented with an intense focus on collaboration through effective communication. There are no one-man or -woman bands, only full orchestras with very clear objectives and constant interaction.
Creativity and innovation. We need people to reach for the next idea. The term “creativity” is no longer applicable to just the agencies or the designers. Today’s channels and digital work approaches enable and encourage creativity at all stages of marketing and the marketing process. Creativity is at the heart of innovation, which is not only required but rewarded.
Leadership. A leader is someone who is willing to take risks, drive change, and build trust. We need these skills at every level of the organization, not just the vice president level. Today’s marketers, regardless of their role, have a unique opportunity to demonstrate leadership in their field and across their business for maximum impact.
While far from exhaustive, this list of skills confirms that we are no longer looking only for traditional marketing skills. Marketing managers need evidence that candidates or existing employees bring different skills and experiences. Good analytical marketers leave a well-lit trail to make sure such evidence is easy to find.