Digital Transformation Brings Changes in Marketing Skillset

Marketing skills 1320

The digital transformation is bringing together a more diverse range of creative, technical, and business proficiencies in small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) than we have ever seen. Now, more than ever, marketing is the growth engine that drives sales and entire businesses.

This is a fascinating time to be a hiring manager or a job candidate for a small-and medium-sized business, provided you know the right skills and proficiencies to hire, or you can bring these qualities to a company. SMBs need marketing executives with broad and up-to-date skills, as well as communication and leadership capabilities to unify marketing and sales. But which qualities matter most to your organization?

Reducing our initial list to three of the most in-demand skills was a challenge, and the results are sure to spark some debate on Facebook (where you can tell us what skill should have made the cut). Given the diversity of capabilities now in demand, our primary objective was to cover three broad areas of need that are representative of the many industries and clients we serve:

T-shaped channel knowledge: The greatest challenge in marketing for SMBs is finding professionals with sufficient expertise in the constantly expanding range of marketing channels now in use. An efficient way to do this is by hiring “T-Shaped Marketers” with cross-disciplinary competence, as well as the passion and drive to provide marketing leadership for your organization. By hiring someone with broad knowledge, that person can bring in talent on a project basis to help you when you need to redesign your website, improve your search rankings, or rebrand your services.

Marketers with cross-disciplinary competence are able to work with your company leaders, quickly learn your business and its position in the marketplace, support your sales process, run your marketing programs, and facilitate creative collaboration.

This Smart Insights list shows more than 40 channels, including email, field sales, social media, mobile advertising, and YouTube. Before bringing in a new marketing executive, we recommend ranking the channels according to the percentage of projects you intend to produce. Is generating content to support field sales calls a priority? How about email campaigns with A/B testing, or Facebook ads including video content? Which will you use most? Your channel ranking will help you to determine your hiring priorities.

Customer focus: Customers don’t just buy your products, they advocate for your brands and function as a virtual salesforce online. They are vital to growing existing revenue and unlocking future revenue. Your marketing executive must understand your “customer journey,” from prospect to first-time buyer, to loyal customer. They must have demonstrable prior success in positively engaging customers through a variety of channels and moving them forward in their respective journeys. Continually improving the customer experience and mobilizing your best customers to advocate for your brands today will keep you in business tomorrow.

Vision for content: How does your company tell its story? How do you nurture leads and influence customers to continue spreading the news and sharing their experiences? Content created with purpose is king. Blogs, online content, social posts, infographics, animations, and YouTube videos are all tools for getting the right information to the right audiences at the right times in the customer journey.

Strong SMBs have content visionaries who don’t simply respond to demands for collateral like website product pages or brochures; they work with marketing analytics and CRM tools to develop a broad, cohesive content strategy. When they need to move the needle, they know just what content tools and channels to leverage. Content is used to support the work of field sales personnel, to drive relationships forward, and to create opportunities for sales closings.

Marketing is transforming, and SMBs across industries from manufacturing to home building to office supply distribution need this specific set of skills to compete. The best new marketing executive hires bring these skills along with a network of other marketing professionals they can tap for your key marketing projects to drive business growth.

Alicia Ellis

About the Author

Alicia Ellis is the Content Strategy & Operations Manager for ECI and has been with the company for more than five years. Prior to her content position, Alicia was the Field Marketing Manager for ECI's Distribution and Field Service Divisions. Alicia spent six years as the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Independent Office Products & Furniture Dealers Association (IOPFDA) and 12 years prior to that as editor in chief of many dealer trade publications including imageSource and Office World News. Alicia lives in Baltimore City with her husband of 30 years, Jeff, and is a tenor drummer for Shamrock & Thistle Pipe and Drum Marching Band.