In as much as marketing has an incredible potential to impact people’s lives, marketing skills and career growth don’t come easy in a field that moves at the speed of light. It seems like every week companies are demanding an evolved skill set out of their employees.
The market competition has grown so stiff that if you are not updated and evolve with the change in trends, your content soon loses the grasp it has on its audience. In order to stay valid and still be able to provide value, we break down for you the top 7 invaluable marketing skills that help some of the greatest brand teams on the planet produce consistently great content.
These skills have individual and team benefits. They do not only provide ultimate flexibility as a team to create a variety of successful marketing campaigns but also allow each marketer to shine as an individual.
You should understand as a marketer that storytelling doesn’t necessarily mean telling your audience what your product or service does or what it has done. Effective storytelling involves a deep understanding of human emotions, motivations, and psychology in order to effectively communicate with your audience (humans) in an authentic and engaging way.
The best marketers are problem solvers and storytellers. Content creators should ask ‘what problem is this piece of solving for my audience.’
There are endless ways to tell a story, but one that has proved most effective is “The Story Spine” formula, which was created by professional playwright and improvisor, Kenn Adams. This style of storytelling tells a story by introducing the key element of the story, the critical element’s regular action, a variant from the norm, the cause and effect of the variant, and then a logical conclusion of what the key ingredient has learnt from his actions. This style of storytelling is smooth, logical and purposeful. The format is thus:
Once upon a time, there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
The Story Spine is not the story; it is the spine. It is nothing but the bare-boned structure upon which the story is built. And, that is what makes it such a powerful tool.
Try to adopt this formula for your, own brand, products, or services as it has worked successfully over time for Pixar Studios.
There is always a million and one things to be done at every point in time, but being an effective prioritizer plays a huge role in the success of your team and content. Producing consistently great content means saying yes to a handful of excellent content ideas/opportunities and saying no to many others.
To develop prioritisation as a marketing skill and to prioritise content and campaigns that will perform at a high level you need to understand goal-setting to a high degree.
Because manual goal setting might prove ineffective, you can use goal-setting Frameworks. There are a variety of them available, which include OKRs, Locke and Latham’s 5 Principles of Goal-Setting, BHAGs, e.t.c.
Collaboration is essential for teams to run great content marketing campaigns because our individual knowledge base is becoming more and more specialised.
This is better explained using the Wright Brothers and building an aeroplane example where just two people designed and flew an aeroplane in 1903, whereas today, a Boeing 787 has dozens of specialists working on the engines alone. Then there are the controls, the hydraulics, the airframe itself. There is an incredible range of specialised skills needed.
There is an ever-growing need for collaboration among specialists (teams) within companies to get a product or service off of the ground.
The heart of any great team collaboration is trust. Trust is the willingness and openness to intentionally communicate with teammates on your direct team and across the company. As a team, always endeavour to make space (physically or virtually) for people to meet and share ideas. You can design your offices in such a way that specialised departments will easily come into contact with each other, just like at Pixar.
The human brain has hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, which is nearly 30%of the entire cortex, as compared with 8% for touch and just 3% for hearing. This makes us visual beings by nature.
This goes on to imply that the most successful marketing teams are not only able to communicate messages in written form, they are also able to create breathtaking designs that aid in telling a compelling visual story.
Visual storytelling plays a massive role in the success of every single piece of content, and this shouldn’t be overlooked.
The best way to come up with so many amazing ideas is by experimenting. This goes to say that behind every one successful marketing idea or campaign, there were dozens (if not hundreds) of little failures along the way.
A marketing team that is not afraid to fail and is willing to run hundreds of different tests in order to validate ideas quickly will often succeed over a marketing team that puts their eggs (ideas) into one basket (channel/campaign).
The Information, for example, might have hundreds of potential story ideas in Asana at any one time — prioritising experiments and ideas based on competition, importance, opportunity costs, and lots more.
Notwithstanding that there is no true scientific way of running marketing experiments, your team can use the formula of setting clear goals, which achievement depends on brainstorming, prioritising ideas and then constantly measuring and analysing results, while making incremental improvements.
Your team should always approach experimentation and testing with a growth mindset, similar to developing a product. This is the only way your team will get to the next level.
Asking the right questions, when it comes to data and marketing analytics is an invaluable marketing skill to have on any team.
The great thing about deepening your skills in analytics is that we all have a base layer to work from. We all know how to build intuition, and intuition is just an absorbing history of data. Add to that the ability to ask good questions, and you are well on your way. The tools themselves matter far less than you might think.
One appropriate way of approaching analytics is the idea of “Crawl, Walk, Run.”
Crawling: Which channels get the most engagement?
Walking: Which tactics and/or strategies are contributing to this engagement?
Running: Which channels, tactics, and strategies should we implement to increase engagement?
You can also think of analytics using the “Hierarchy of Analytics” model made popular by data wizard, Christopher S. Penn.
In the beginning, for this model, you might experiment with various analytics platforms and tools in order to get a feel for the basics of marketing analytics. Understanding what data is available, its limitations, and what you can report is a great start.
Then, as you become more skilled and confident with data, you might dive into things like understanding why something happened or what might happen in the future based on your findings.
Learning is an unending process. The path to becoming a great marketer is a lifelong journey and never truly complete, just like learning.
Knowledge, passion, and expertise are intangible qualities that we usually don’t acquire overnight. These are often developed as a result of years of hard work, mistakes, self-reflection, and personal growth.
A love for learning is a primary skill to have as a marketer because it tells whether you love what you do and whether you are curious about the world. These two factors alone can take you quite far.
Information and continuous learning nourishes our minds just like food nourishes our body.
As a content marketer, are you lacking any of these skills? If you are, then it is time to take the necessary actions, if you wish to remain relevant.