There’s no denying that the face of marketing has changed dramatically over the past decade—even in the past year. Historically, marketing has been a subset of communications. Writing skills were the primary career prerequisites, and marketers focused their efforts on copywriting for print ads, direct mail copy, brochures, broadcast scripts and communications projects. Technology advances, search engine optimization (SEO), social media and other developments have made marketing department roles much more complex, requiring brand new skill sets. More and more, marketing pros and students are acquiring abilities to keep up with the rapidly evolving marketplace. But in the meantime, there’s a skills gap that business leaders struggle to bridge.
Marketing skills in a new age
Today’s cutting-edge marketing departments require a vast array of skills and tools as well as a willingness to adapt to the changing landscape. To stay relevant, marketers need to seek and develop skills that will address:
- Branding. Use existing insights and data analytics to carefully define your target audience. Employ project-management skills to implement a complete and consistent branding strategy from packaging and promotional materials to customer service training. Leverage storytelling abilities to engage customers and bring your company’s story to life.
- Promotional marketing. Enhance graphic and production skills to create print and video ad designs. Design and implement email campaigns, including creating effective messaging, testing, data analysis, and follow up with project management. Expand your reach with social media expertise.
- Social media marketing. Maintain knowledge of various platforms and engage readers using your interpersonal skills. Planning and organization will ensure consistent posts and follow-up. Networking skills help engage key influencers.
- Content marketing. Through research and analysis, define your audience and their needs and challenges. Improve your online content discoverability using SEO, and gain editorial coverage in relevant media outlets through media outreach. Use technical expertise to create podcasts, webinars, infographics and more. Develop a content strategy to create and distribute valuable, relevant content over a variety of channels. Develop the ability to take technical knowledge and turn it into high-quality, easily-digestible content.
- Product marketing. Cultivate prospects and convert them to customers with lead-nurturing expertise. Use analytics to define customer personas and market your products and services using ad design, creation and copywriting skills.
- Public relations. Spread your message through writing, speaking and other media-outreach efforts. Develop social-responsibility programs, community outreach initiatives and grass-roots marketing campaigns. Create brand awareness and enhance networking via social media marketing. Appeal to “on the go” readers using your mobile marketing experience. Gain exposure in broadcast and print media with media outreach expertise.
Marketing tasks have grown in number and complexity over the years. As such, it’s nearly impossible for small one- or two-person marketing departments to provide the necessary skills to carry them out. To keep up with the competition, many company leaders outsource some marketing responsibilities. But how many and which jobs make sense to perform in-house and which should you consider outsourcing?
Company size is one of the biggest determinants of whether or not to outsource your marketing needs. For leaders of small companies who don’t have budgets to hire several marketers to conduct all of today’s marketing musts, outsourcing is usually the less expensive option. Marketing service providers have teams of people, which together can bridge the skills gap. You can choose and pay for only the marketing services you need.
However, some tasks may be best executed by in-house resources. For example, your company has a specific mission, culture, vision and value set that only an employee fully understands. This first-hand knowledge is important for your social media marketing efforts. An in-house marketer is in a better position to engage in social interactions, answer questions and network with industry leaders.
The same is true for business-intelligence tasks. An internal marketing pro will have specific knowledge and insight about your business operations and be better able to analyze and interpret data. Lead-nurturing tasks are closely related to sales. Marketers tasked with lead-nurturing often need to collaborate with sales team members, which is easier done in-house.
Leveraging experts to accomplish goals
On the other hand, highly technical tasks, such as video production or mobile marketing, usually are best performed by outside specialists. This is especially true for small companies with limited resources. Such tasks take specialized skills that require extensive training, specialized equipment and programs, and time to get up to speed.
Depending on your marketing team’s writing skills, some marketing tasks should be outsourced to content-development experts. This often works best when your technical experts work with outside writers to create valuable high-quality content. Media outreach to get your content published on relevant media outlets is best performed by marketing service providers who have the time, talent, and relationships with media organizations to get the desired editorial coverage.
The choice of whether to outsource all or some of your marketing tasks depends on several variables, including company size, business type and budget. It’s important to assess the skills your marketing team members possess to determine whether you need to fill in the gaps with outside specialists.
If you need help covering marketing team skills gaps, Trade Press Services can help. Contact us to learn more about our marketing support services and how we can help you achieve your marketing goals.