Marketing skills that are most important for 2020s?

Marketing is both art and science requiring particular. The best modern marketers know how to combine these two. There are some marketing skills that make it possible for a marketer to be both a scientist and an artist. If you could pick three skills that every marketer should have, what would they be? What kind of skills should we teach for example to our marketing and business students and what kind of marketing people companies should look for? This topic is something that I have had to think a lot as the director of International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management. For this purpose, I did a lot of googling to find out what kind of skills are thought to be the most important for marketers. I found a lot of lists, this seems like a popular topic.  From my light research, I was able to identify three most important skills. They are in my opinion creativity, understanding numbers and people, and ability to learn and adapt.

Creativity as a marketing skill

Marketing is everywhere. Never before has it been so easy to reach so many people as it is today. This also means that never before has it been this difficult to make an impression, to stand out, to be memorized. This is where creativity comes into play. Marketers who are able to do things differently from all the rest will stand out. Marketing needs to create and communicate emotions. Everyone can be a marketer nowadays but not all know how to connect the marketing with people. When we are training future marketers we need to give space to innovate and think outside the box. Creativity helps marketers to understand things that others have not yet figured out. Doing new things makes it possible to stand out from the competitors. If we structure courses and assignments too tight, there is no room for creativity. There are plenty of possibilities to teach creativity. We should utilize these possibilities when we are teaching marketing and training marketing personnel of the future.

Creativity as a marketing skill
Being creative

Understanding numbers and people

Digital marketing was one of the key areas where marketing skills of the future should be focused on. SEO (search engine optimization), AI, marketing analytics, marketing automation and social media marketing skills come up often. What is common to all of these and to business, in general, is the importance of numbers. Numbers tell if a business is growing or profitable. Numbers measure the efficiency of modern marketing. Return on investment from various activities can be calculated or at least estimated. There are hundreds of different metrics just for online marketing. Running a business or marketing campaign is difficult if you are not good with numbers. And then there is big data, which requires particularly specific number understanding skills. However, without understanding people it will be difficult to understand what the numbers mean. 

Metrics in online marketing
Understanding numbers

Marketing is first and foremost human to human interaction and communication. Understanding does not come from numbers but with discussions and interactions with real people. Emotional intelligence helps marketers to understand what customers need and want. It also helps to build networks which increasingly define our performance as marketers. It helps to efficiently communicate with them in the online environment.  Interaction with real people makes it possible to understand what the numbers mean and how marketing can be adapted based on the information received.

Ability to learn and adapt

In marketing, we are focusing more and more on testing what works and what does not work. We need to adapt and learn all the time. Teaching hard skills is becoming more and more useless as the internet is full of free materials and learning possibilities, not to mentions thousands of online communities that are ready to help should you need it. These enable anyone to learn skills such as coding, SEO, AdWords, Analytics and marketing automation. In digital marketing software develops all the time, new applications are adopted and old ones discarded. There are hundreds of apps just for Facebook marketing alone! This means that we need to teach marketers how they can keep on learning by themselves. How they can become efficient learners and how they can adapt, change and develop based on their own learning process. No matter how long we study in a university or any other school, it can still provide only a starting point for a career that is characterized by lifelong learning.

Learning and adapting are important marketing skills
Lifelong learning

Other marketing skills?

What do you think are the most important skills that you need from a marketing expert? What skills should we teach to our marketing students and train to our marketing personnel? Please comment below.

I study how changes in technology and consumer behaviour affect tourism marketing. Programme director of International Master’s Degree Programme at University of Eastern Finland Business School.

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