Simply knowing the latest buzzwords isn't enough to succeed in today's technology-fraught marketing world. Those who get ahead have a firm grip on the most important trends as well as on data analysis techniques. "Marketing is evolving from personal skills into more of a science," says Brett Flickinger, founder of Next Level, a marketing consulting firm.
Here are eight skills marketers need to succeed:
1. Know What's Hot
Marketers are being brought in earlier in the product development process, so it's important to be up-to-date in the latest techniques. Develop a steady schedule to take time away from the job and participate in webinars, workshops, courses and conferences that will help you learn what's new.
2. Understand Software
Know which software programs are used to buttress your own marketing efforts. "For example, I don't do the graphic arts work I need for our marketing efforts, but I can outline a concept I want using desktop design software and give it to the graphic artist professional to develop fully," Flickinger says. "This insight on what the software can do helps in both my communications to the graphic artists and expands my own creativity."
3. Stay Flexible
With constantly changing company objectives and market conditions, you need to learn how to reassess and prioritize your time. "Instead of rigid one-year plans, many of today's marketing leaders operate with a more flexible strategic roadmap," says Scott Brinker, author of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog. Work with other departments to track your progress and pursue new angles.
4. Understand Data From Consumer Feedback
Knowing how to gather feedback is becoming a greater challenge as a consumer's time becomes more valuable. "More and more, consumers are expecting to be listened to," explains Levy. Learning how to seek consumer feedback is a skill that will be even more valuable in the future. Since most consumer needs are formulated through data research, you must be comfortable with doing quantitative analysis.
"Not every marketer needs to be a statistician or a data scientist, but the volume of data available to marketers now, from the web and customer relationship management systems, offers a new way to listen to the voice of the customer," Flickinger says.
5. Focus on Personal Communication
With so much communication through email and social networking, it can be difficult to forge genuine ties with important contacts. "Social media, email, and smart phones have done a great job making us more accessible, but in many ways have crippled us from truly being able to connect," Jonathan Fitzgarrald, director of marketing at Greenberg Glusker, a Los Angeles-based law firm. Be sure to attend in-person meetings, schedule phone calls and make casual small talk a part of your daily routine.
6. Work the Balance
Being capable of balancing modern marketing techniques with classic concepts is a skill that's likely to be in even more demand in the future. "In a slow economy where pressures on marketing to help retain customers and maintain or even grow revenues is high, it is important that the marketer be organized and be able to prioritize actions," says Flickinger.
At the same time, keep up with blogs, professional organizations and track what others in your network are working on. For example, understanding how mobile marketing trends will impact your business is crucial these days, says Lorrie Thomas, a marketing expert and founder of Web Marketing Therapy. "Ninety-eight percent of people have their mobile devices on them at any given time, which means we sleep with them," she says.
7. Know SEO/SEM
While Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing are no longer foreign concepts, they are still an afterthought in some marketing departments. Learn how to utilize them to solve every-day dilemmas. "Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are very powerful tools for marketing professionals," says Flickinger. "Their ability to collect information on users and their interests is unprecedented."
8. Learn to Use Social Media
While everyone knows about social media, it's still a mystery as to how it can be used to achieve business goals. Using it in your personal life can help you understand its applications in the workplace. "Theory is one thing, but you won't fully learn until you try it out and see for yourself," says Rachel Levy, a social media consultant who uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Quora to build her own brand -- thereby learning how it can be used to build business brands.
Write to Alina Dizik