A focus on skills and capability development is a key part of many marketing change programmes. Interestingly, when respondents were asked how they would rate their level of competency in core marketing skills in Econsultancy’s Skills of the Modern Marketer survey, softer skills such as creativity and commercial awareness scored highly, and in some cases higher than more traditionally trained competencies such as brand and campaign management.

Figure 12: Skills of the Modern Marketer – How would you rate your level of competency in each of these core marketing skills?

 

Source: Econsultancy – Skills of the Modern Marketer[36]

It was striking in this data that these more traditional competencies were also, according to those interviewed for the report, some of the most important for modern marketers to master indicating perhaps a need for training in more classic areas of marketing practice. Furthermore, a large majority of respondents to the Skills of the Modern Marketer survey (90%) agreed that there is a digital skills gap within marketing teams.

This indicates that many teams are perhaps lacking some of the key skills that they need to be successful in the long-term and need to navigate a rapidly evolving landscape. When marketers were asked what skill they could stake their career on learning in the future, the top three responses were data analysis and measurement (30%), content marketing (20%) and user experience (12%), demonstrating the ongoing importance of these areas.

However, it was clear from the interviews conducted for this report that, alongside hard skills and competencies, there is a need in change management to also focus on behaviours or personal qualities, which Econsultancy refers to as mindsets.

Figure 13: The importance and context of marketing mindset

Figure 13: The importance and context of marketing mindset

Source: Econsultancy – Skills of the Modern Marketer[37]

Key qualities such as the ability to be curious and open to opportunities to learn, to be able to embrace change, to take ownership of learning, and to have values aligned to those of the organisation, were highlighted in the Skills of the Modern Marketer report. Respondents believed that softer skills around collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and adaptability are key for a modern marketing career.

Figure 14: Skills of the Modern Marketer – To what extent do you consider the following soft skills as important for success in a marketing career?

 

 

Source: Econsultancy – Skills of the Modern Marketer[38]

Similarly, a number of the interviewees for this report emphasised how marketers needed to embrace change as a continual reality, to value curiosity and continual learning, and to apply lateral thinking to solve problems. These qualities are even more important in the context of change management. Change can often be uncomfortable but marketers’ ability to be open, curious and creative in their roles can help them to navigate complexity, find better solutions and learn fast.

Similarly, the growing importance of horizontal working highlighted earlier in the report means that a mindset that supports effective collaboration is increasingly essential. Interviewees also talked about how the ability to influence stakeholders was a key part of effective change management due to the need to win ongoing support for change or investment.

 

Fixed and growth marketing mindsets

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck (in ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’[39]) has described a fundamental difference in mindset that we can adopt from an early age in her concept of ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindsets. These markedly divergent mindsets impact how we view our own personality but also our interactions with the world:

  • Fixed mindsets: People with this mindset tend to view their character and intelligence as static and unable to evolve in meaningful ways. When they are successful, those with this mindset regard that success as:

“…the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.”

  • Growth mindsets: People with this outlook are less likely to regard failure as a result of unintelligence and more likely to see it as an opportunity to grow and improve existing capabilities. They relish challenges.

Fixed and growth mindsets are important in change management. If we adopt a growth mindset and see every initiative as an opportunity to learn, we are far more likely to embrace change, learn fast and collaborate well. Fixed mindsets can create problems with interdisciplinary or horizontal working and can lead to a more controlling team or organisational culture.