What are the skills needed by marketers to be succesful in the future?

In our research for the Skills of the Modern Marketer report, we asked senior level marketers that question and have come up with 15 essential skills – organised into three ‘top five skills lists’ for marketing.

Why three lists? When we asked respondents about the skills essential to marketing there was a surprising focus placed on the soft skills.

So in addition to the usual broad knowledge areas and vertical skills areas, marketers need the right soft skills to be able to work across the organisation. The best ideas will founder without buy-in across the organisation and support from multiple teams.

Marketers also need to be able to adapt quickly in response to the rapid pace of change all around us.

So that leaves us with three top five lists, one each for soft skills, broad skills and technical skills.   

We repeatedly heard that the challenge is in finding the right people – people with the right mix of technical or analytical skills and the soft skills to be successful in the organisation.

The most important soft skill was adaptability. Three quarters (75%) of respondents cited the ability to embrace change as “very important” to be an effective marketer, while 61% cited being passionate and keen to learn as “very important”.

The willingness to adapt and the ability to change in response to external forces is critical for marketers, as they need to be agile in the face of shifting consumer expectations and the emergence of new digital channels.

We also need to be constantly learning and have to be able to collaborate across the organisation in order to get things done. This research confirms many of the skills that Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein defined in the Modern Marketing Manifesto.  

There has been a lot of hand-wringing about the looming digital skills gap, and our research confirms that marketers are struggling to find people with the right data and analytics skills in particular. However, respondents continuously underscored the importance of softer skills.

There is no question that we are seeing the rise of the marketing technologist and that we are facing a skills gap in data and analytics. But the focus should be on hiring people with the right mix of skills, so-called t-shaped or pi-shaped marketers. 

Econsultancy subscribers can download a copy of the Skills of the Modern Marketer report. We also published an infographic summarising the findings and recently launched our digital skills index where you can see how your skills measure up.