The skills hiring managers are looking for as they build their marketing teams continue to evolve as quickly as consumers adopt new technologies and platforms. These rapid changes make it more difficult than ever to find the “ideal” candidate.
Gone are the days that “the gift of the gab” was enough to draw in and keep a client base. Savvy, educated consumers have higher expectations every year. Competition is fierce. And it is far easier for consumers to find the competition if marketers fail to meet those expectations.
Modern marketers combine operational and data skills while applying business strategy. Today’s marketer has to be tech-savvy, data proficient, and customer-centric as well as collaborative and strategic. The “soft skills” remain as the base. But these newer “hard skills” in CRM and general technology, plus modern marketing strategies, are the foundation for any career in marketing now.
That is a lot more boxes to check than when I started my career! And there are many more ways to show off your talent in these areas. So, here are seven skills you should consider developing and spotlighting on your LinkedIn profile.
- Customer Experience (CX)
- Strategic Thinking
- Data Visualization
- Data Interpretation
- Relationship Management
- Financial Understanding
1. Customer Experience
Nothing kills an inferior product faster than great marketing. You can have the most effective marketing campaigns, but much like a defective product, a bad customer experience can put an end to your plans. Conversely, great experiences can become magnets that will keep your customers coming back. It encourages them to spread the word (thereby possibly lowering your marketing expenses). So, it’s no surprise that expertise in the design and nurturing of excellent customer service is a skill businesses are looking for.
Customer experience – or CX (as the experts say) – is the holistic perception your customers have of their entire experience with your brand or business. CX results from every interaction they have with you, from navigating on your website to a call to customer service and, of course, the actual product(s) or service(s) they buy from you. Everything impacts this customer perception and the decisions to come back.
Better CX creates repeated positive reviews and simultaneously reduces friction in complaints and returns. All business models benefit from an excellent customer experience. Subscription businesses increase retention with reduced churn, eCommerce marketplaces increase repeat customers, reduce returns, and service industries gain recommendations while reducing complaints. Increased customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, word-of-mouth marketing all make focusing on CX worthwhile.
According to a 2018 PwC report, US consumers are willing to pay up to a 16% price premium when the experience is excellent. However, the chance to get it right is fleeting as one in three consumers will walk away from a brand they “love” after one bad experience. Still, 54% of consumers indicate that customer experience at most companies needs improvement.
“Speed, convenience, helpful employees, and friendly service matter most, each hitting over 70% in importance to consumers.”
Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience
Yet customer service is only one part of customer experience. Customer experience is the customer’s complete, overall perception. In contrast, customer service is only specific touchpoints when the customer requests and receives help. For example, customer service is when your customer calls or sends an email to request a refund.
CX is much larger than customer service. Every touchpoint matters. From the moment they hear about you for the first time in a post on LinkedIn to when they call your customer service team with a complaint about the product, hopefully getting a prompt and positive response.
Whether your customers are internal, external, or even your friends and family, customer experience management is title agnostic and a must as customers share experiences and opinions far and wide. Moreover, as a brand, the experience you deliver must be dependable and consistent.
2. Strategic Thinking
How you think about, assess, and work through situations can be a valuable skill. Strategic thinking allows you to see the potential in the future and a path to get there. Proper application of strategic thinking can also help you avoid costly mistakes. The process examines everything you do, the markets’ needs, and the discovery of how the two are linked. Strategic planning answers the “how” and the “when.” Strategic thinking answers “what” and “why” to create a unifying framework for all decisions.
Many with the gift of strategic thinking seldom see the immense value in their skill. Strategic thinking operates as a natural function, effortlessly, often without the specific awareness of those most brilliant strategic thinkers. As you naturally see through the clutter, others may tell you about your extraordinary perspective about how the world works. The hidden pathways you see through complexity probably result in creative, uncanny, yet simple solutions.
Do you find yourself relentlessly asking “what-if” questions? Strategic thinking usually enables marketers to spot trends for potentially lucrative opportunities. Then, make sure you highlight your abilities as a strategic thinker on your LinkedIn Profile. As natural and normal as you consider this approach to situations, real strategic thinking is quite rare. If you find it obvious to look down the road making decisions about what should happen to move forward, you have strategic thinking skills.
Many companies will go through a yearly strategic planning process, creating a guidebook for the next 365 days. Still, shifts happen, and new opportunities emerge. Businesses are under constant pressure to grow. Strategic thinking forces companies to be innovative in the face of market pressures and enables leaders to make confident decisions because they are based on a future view of the company.
3. Data Visualization
Along with understanding valuable data, you must have the ability to communicate that information in a way that anyone can understand. This level of mastery is uncommon, but data geeks can become data heroes once they master the ability to tell the data story in understandable ways. Graphs, charts, and infographics pave the road to action.
Data visualization is a top in-demand skill. It is the bridge between the art and science of data. It could likely be one of the essential tools for anyone working with data whose job it is to convince others. Or those who need to tell a story in a way that brings everyone to the same conclusion.
Imagine. You drive down the road and glance down at your dashboard. It tells you what you need to know so you can keep your eyes on the road. At a glance, you see your speed and how much gas you have. Also, you may even see how high the engine is revving. Visualization of data works much the same way.
You can communicate key performance indicators (KPIs) critical to your marketing efforts quickly and clearly using graphics from an analytics dashboard. This graphical interface progress report provides data visualization to give you a way to monitor primary marketing functions. and track performance in real-time to answer the critical questions about company performance compared to preset objectives.
Many studies indicate that the human brain can recognize and retain images (or pictures) with much more clarity than words (much less so with numbers). As marketers, we understand the use of appropriate, targeted imagery in communications has the power to change behavior. So, whether your audience is a potential customer or a CFO you hope will approve a budget, a picture might be worth a thousand words.
4. Data Interpretation
A couple of years ago, we created an infographic of the modern marketer. We said the marketer that would win the day would be a scientist, among other things. The amount of data at our disposal is ever-growing. From social media engagement to GPS information and just plain old sales information, it can be mind-blowing. However, a successful marketer will have the ability to separate the actionable data from data that is just cluttering up your efforts. And while your relationship with math (yes, that thing we said in fourth grade we’d never need) may not be a love story, you should try to at least like it.
It’s a line you’ve read over and over again. Data is not for geeks anymore. Yes, data scientists are in high demand, but data impacts all marketing roles. As modern marketers, we must all possess a level of data literacy. Increasing reliance on marketing automation is high and highlights the need to understand the data as it affects processes.
Every industry has a slightly different focus on what data is most critical. Still, the sources of that data remain the same.
- The Company Website
- Social Media Accounts
- Return on Investment (ROI)
Make sure you highlight in your LinkedIn profile which data you use and how you use it.
A. The Company Website
The website is the face of the company, and frequently, the first customer touchpoint. New and potential customers visit the site before deciding to buy. So, it’s essential to track the website data to learn about these customers as much as possible.
Useful data includes site visitors, page views, bounce rates, and traffic sources. This data tells you about who visits the website, where they came from, and how long they stay. Google Analytics help study these metrics. So, make sure you describe your skills with Google Analytics (or something similar) on your LinkedIn Profile.
B. Social Media Accounts
Valuable Social Media Marketing engages followers consistently, providing vast amounts of data about the performance of the content and tracking user engagement checks likes, shares, and comments on posts and studies demographics like gender, age, and location. This data helps create personas to target content. If you have skills working with social media accounts, be sure to link each one to your LinkedIn profile.
C. Return on Investment (ROI)
Why even bother analyzing data? Metrics help demonstrate the return on investment. Knowing more about how revenue is generated through marketing efforts improves decision-making strategies. A keen ability to analyze the ROI allows marketing investments to target the time and resources on the most critical activities. By highlighting this marketing data on your LinkedIn profile, you showcase your abilities to make informed business and marketing decisions by knowing your customers better.
Moreover, data literacy is not about tools. It is about the information that is collected and the impact on the business. Make getting familiar with the data that is influencing business decisions a priority.
5. Relationship Management
In the same infographic I mentioned above, we also said the Modern Marketer needed to be a relationship expert. The ability to inspire and influence to get the best out of others is a skill that separates managers from leaders.
People cannot leave their emotions at home or in the car when they get to work or your door. Often more powerful than our intellect, emotions are critical to survival. Relationship Management skills provide a foundation for understanding that people experience a variety of emotions. That foundation is needed to build trust and confidence.
Relationship Management is all about interpersonal communications. It is your ability to get the best out of people by inspiring and influencing them to build bonds through positive communication. And helping them change, develop, grow, and resolve conflicts. Relationship management is one of the key elements of Emotional Intelligence.
- Social awareness
- Relationship management
By systematizing relationship management into Customer Relationship Management (CRM), businesses deliberately build relationships with customers to create increased loyalty and retention. Since these are both elements that affect company revenues, CRM strategies result in increased profits. Contacts managed through a CRM software system and direct interactions with others all determine your success.
Whether it’s working across departments or managing the customer experience, today’s marketer must be able to understand the motivations and emotions involved in any exchange. Only then can efforts alight for a greater good.
6. Financial Understanding
Marketers are responsible for developing the business, but sales growth in the absence of financial stability quickly leads to an unfortunate end. Understanding the relationship between revenue and costs is crucial.
In working closely with the leadership in marketers’ companies, I see managers making decisions every day that impact their financial performance. Everything from scheduling, hiring and firing, to budgeting, approving capital investments, and sending out invoices makes a difference. Basic financial skills and understanding the financial implications of these decisions are critical. As a result, many marketers find wasted resources and poor decisions mean financial performance suffers.
Having worked with non-financially trained marketers over the years, I have discovered these five foundational financial skills crucial. They are worth highlighting on your LinkedIn profile.
A. Understanding Cash vs. Accrual Accounting Systems
Most larger companies use accrual accounting, so you may find this transition challenging if you move from a smaller company. Learn when expenses get charged against the departmental budget. Discover the differences in the timing to get credit for a sale. Highlighting your understanding of the differences between the two accounting methods in your LinkedIn profile lets others know you can manage cash flow, vendor obligations, spending levels, and accounts receivable.
B. Familiarity with Basic Financial Statements
Basic financial statements your accountants prepare for external users give you specific, valuable information, too. As you learn what information is in each statement, you develop an understanding of the terminology best used to communicate clearly with finance and accounting personnel. See how your actions reflect in the statements and what line items you impact. How can you use these financial reports to improve the performance in your areas of responsibility?
C. Preparing Budgets
Your ability to prepare a departmental budget is worth highlighting in your LinkedIn profile. The budget quantifies the resources required to achieve departmental objectives for the next fiscal period. Many managers consider budgets a formality – a hoop to jump through to satisfy demands from upper management, investors, and lenders. But there is value in the process for you, as a manager, too.
You can take time to question the use of resources and more effective or efficient applications. Tie your departmental spending directly to your objectives, action plans, and strategies, staying aligned with the organization’s strategic plan.
D. Implications of the Variance Analysis
As you skillfully analyze variances between budgets or forecasts and performance, you should relate the differences to what happened in the department over that period. Is this a one-time thing? Do you need to act to make sure it won’t happen again? Should you adjust future forecasts or budgets based on this information? The ability to explain the implications of variances as compared to operations provides exceptional value to a marketer.
E. Analyzing Strategic Initiatives or Capital Investments (ROI)
Your understanding of the return on investment (ROI) on strategic initiatives and capital investments provides a foundation for financial security for the firm. Measuring ROI as internal rate of return (IRR), net present value (NPV), or payback identifies the impact on performance. Financial skills are part of the essential toolkit for any marketer. Understanding the financial implications of your decisions and how to use financial data improves company performance.
Managers who can assess the company’s financial position and use their other skills to adjust and refine are valuable members of any executive team. And, while you may not understand financial markets, good managers must have, at a minimum, an understanding of the P&L and general accounting. Yet, it is often a missing skill for newly promoted managers.
Financial literacy aids marketers in making adequately informed decisions for the overall growth of the business. “By understanding the financials of an organization, a team member can better understand how THEIR job affects the bottom line,” says IMPACT Controller Eric Choma.
Leadership is one that I feel gets easily muddled. While a title and span of control indicate a leadership position, it is not indicative of leadership skill. Motivating and achieving desired goals and change management is often more challenging than getting the title. Showing examples of problem-solving, communication, conflict resolution, and just plain old organization are excellent leadership indicators.
The art of motivating a group toward achieving a common goal can mean directing others with a strategy designed to meet the department’s objectives. I believe the core of leadership captures the ability and the willingness to inspire others. Effective leadership engagingly communicates ideas, so others want to act while simultaneously showing the way. Personable enough others want to follow, leaders also have the critical thinking skills to analyze how to best use available resources.
Leadership links directly to performance, as far as I’m concerned. So, leadership definitions should consider that. Even though leadership doesn’t need to link straight to profits, influential leaders tend to be the ones increasing the bottom line. Some people seem naturally endowed with better leadership qualities than others, but there are some teachable and learnable leadership skills.
Leadership vs. Management
Leadership and management are often used interchangeably. But they are certainly not the same things. Leadership traits extend well beyond management duties. Both manage resources, but genuine leadership is more than that. For example, managers might inspire the people working in their departments, but leaders must inspire their followers. Many managers are leaders, and many leaders are managers—but not all.
As a marketer, gaining the co-operation of others, internally and externally, is the core of the position. Your ability to lead and inspire should shine on your LinkedIn profile for all to see!
As you refine your LinkedIn profile, consider the skills required as a marketer. What do employers seek now? There is definitely a broad range of skillsets that go into modern marketing. So, step by step, look at your profile. Have you outlined your skills in these critical areas?
- Customer Experience (CX)
- Strategic Thinking
- Data Visualization
- Data Interpretation
- Relationship Management
- Financial Understanding
Add those missing elements to your profile. Give a more rounded impression of yourself as a marketer. Then, when anyone looks at your LinkedIn profile, they can see just what you can do!
This was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated to reflect the current demand for skilled marketers.