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skill gapBack in interactive marketing's beginning, a word you heard time and time again was "silo." There were silos between digital and traditional advertising and marketing at both the agency and client levels. The gulf was broad and often seemed unbridgeable. These days, there are new silos popping up all over the interactive landscape. And they're attributable to an industry skills gap.

You thought traditional marketing was specialized? It is -- but it doesn't have anything on interactive. Search. Email. Online PR. Optimization. Media planning and buying. A myriad of highly specialized disciplines-within-the-discipline have spring up over the last decade. All are becoming more complex, more specialized, and each requires a unique skill set. And this, combined with cross-discipline skills gaps, leads to silos. Hardly surprising, but not terribly helpful either when it comes to robust interactive strategies and executions.

Say you're an expert in online PR and adept in using social media tools for your clients. Without a solid foundation in search and analytics, where does that leave you? In contrast, does the person responsible for organic search optimization realize that essentially, what they're working on is online PR? These connect-the-dots analogies encompasses the full range of interactive marketing and advertising skill sets. And increasingly, those who possess the knowledge and expertise in one do so at the expense of, well, interactivity.

It's understandable why interactive marketing is becoming more silo-ized as it grows in reach and complexity, but now might be the worst possible time for that to happen. Economic turmoil means smaller teams, stresses on staff, and very simply, the need to do more with less. This is no time for the media team to be on a different page than their colleagues in  strategy, or to not understand how success gets measured and benchmarked.

When the economy takes a step back, it's a call to take a step forward. To develop new skill sets compatible with the ones you've already got to increase your value in a constricting marketplace. To hone your ability to evaluate new business models and channels as you traverse rough waters. Or very simply, to take advantage of a lull in business or some downtime. How often does that opportunity arise?

Now's the time to do it. Hit a local conference or seminar.  Start attending meet-ups or tweet-ups. Sign up at a community college. There's never been a more critical time for marketers to make themselves more, well marketable.

And if you're going to be in or around New York City June 9, 10th and 11th, you should consider attending Econsultancy's first U.S. training courses. We're offering Online Media Planning and BuyingOptimizing Digital Marketing Channels; and Online PR & Social Media.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 4 May, 2009 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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