This Part 3 of a 4-part blog series highlighting key skills to advance your marketing career.
Building on those two disciplines, the next marketing career building block is communications. In this context, communications is two-way – listening for insights and the ability to package and deliver value, inspiring or motivating people and communities to take action. This must occur first and foremost with your prospects and customers through the diverse channels they frequent. And, in today’s social media-driven world, this also means communicating with influencers and stakeholders that your constituencies trust and value.
The communication skills you need
When you think of marketing communication skills, most marketers will quickly conclude that I’m talking about writing or pushing out your product and company messages in ebooks, email messages and product collateral. Those are certainly important and a representative sample of one type of communications. However, the skills that marketers need to succeed in their current roles – and to land the next job – go well beyond writing and product knowledge. They reflect the evolution of our profession and the work that must be done to achieve effective, business-impacting communications. These communications-centric skills include:
- Expertise specific to the industries and vertical markets your company serves. Regulations, business trends, the competitive environment and customer expectations are critical factors that any marketer must be able to articulate and embody in all of your communications. This skill is critical to helping customers understand your brand’s true value.
- Command of diverse communications channels – inbound, email, digital, phone, etc. – to target customers on their “turf,” using language that resonates with them. Channel knowledge is an extension of persona knowledge – understanding the messages that will engage in which channels.
- A curiosity to tap into social media to listen and learn, as well as discover, educate, and nurture prospects and influencers. This is not just about the number of followers or posting your promotions, but active two-way communications, being part of the community you and your company serves.
- The ability to create clear, persuasive content and messages that consistently deliver value. At various times, marketers need the ability to author creative briefs that drive campaigns; brand and product value messages; white papers and ebooks; blogs; video scripts; data sheets; competitive “bake-off” documents; tweets and Facebook posts; PowerPoint presentations; newsletters and more. Can every marketer realistically be an expert at all of those? Probably not. But you need to be able to create a variety of engaging content and messages that speak to customer needs and hot buttons.
- With ROI at the top of every marketer “must deliver” list, your communications must have a laser focus on performance. It’s great when you develop beautiful prose then pour it into brilliantly designed blogs or white papers. But you must focus maniacally on creating content to achieve a performance goal. Define your goal first, figure out what content and messaging will get you there, then develop accordingly. An effective communicator is one who has a track record of creating content that elicits action. (Note: measuring performance will be the focus of the fourth and final installment in this series)
So how does all this tie back to marketing careers and advancement?
Great communicators who can do many of the above – while also capitalizing on marketing technology and building keen customer insight – will create content to power winning communications that put your company (and you) on the radar of other companies and other great marketers.
Not by coincidence, excellent communicators will find their skillset translates to stand-out resumes and cover letters, as well as a kick-ass portfolio of work with proven results. They’ll know how to tip a job interview in their favor because they’ll study their interviewer and prospective employer – just as they build and apply customer and market knowledge.
Start with curious listening. Understand the needs of the individual(s) you’re communicating with, choose the right channel(s) and craft your points accordingly. The career payoff will follow.