Marketing and sales are undergoing a huge transition that began at the beginning of this decade and will continue in the years to come. That means that those of us working in the field will have to change with the industry and focus on the skills of the future.
As marketing and sales professionals and executives told HubSpot about the challenges they see ahead, a few topics rose to the top in open-ended questions on the 2017 State of Inbound Report surveys:
Taking on an overwhelming volume responsibilities expected of each team member
Moving a traditional company into a modern strategy
In addition, nearly 20 percent named training their team as a top challenge, while 16 percent say hiring top talent looms over them.
When an environment changes as rapidly as the marketing field has over the last 10 years (after all, while Facebook did have 50 million users in late 2007, today the number who log on at least monthly is 20 times that), the skills needed to keep up change just as quickly.
So, what skills are needed to be successful in content marketing today? Some of the “hard” skills are obvious: SEO, social media management, data analysis, coding, writing, and email marketing. But many of these are simply expected baseline skills now (see Marketing Skills Mismatch and What Marketing Teams Need).
While those specific task-based skills are essential right now, marketers with an eye on the future need to think about how well they embody these “soft” skills that will determine their success 2 years, 5 years and 15 years from now.
Content Marketing Skill: Ability to see changes in the industry and adapt
Successful content marketers, especially those in leadership roles leading strategy development, will need to be ready to see what is coming and find ways of adapting quickly, especially if working in tech-savvy industries.
If you aren’t already, start following forward-looking marketing blogs, such as those from HubSpot and MarketingProfs, where both original content and curated posts bring together current stats and trending changes in marketing. Think about how you can apply them to your own strategies.
Two examples highlighted in HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report:
A shift in communication preferences has buyers beginning to both move away from email as a top channel for communication (it’s still favored by 87 percent, but messaging apps and other options are gaining traction).
Many buyers would rather avoid the in-person sales approach, which will require a greater emphasis on tools such as bots to complete the sales process digitally.
Content Marketing Skill: Researching customers to meet them on their terms
This skill ties in with being on top of changes, with the most important changes being shifts in customer behavior, which require continual research and analysis in order to keep up.
One respondent to HubSpot’s survey commented on how his or her company is already doing this: “The amount of research and analysis that goes in before employing a particular strategy has increased manifold and constant checks on the trends of consumer behaviour are changing as well.”
This soft skill of understanding the need to research what customers want, how they communicate and where they “live” online ties directly into one hard skill that is showing up in more marketing job listings than in job-seekers’ resumes: data analysis. (Marketing Skills Mismatch)
The data developed through constantly monitoring customer preferences and behavior should be utilized in updating customer personas and developing content strategies that how your prospects want to be reached in the future, not the ways you have you reached them in the past.
Content Marketing Skill: Turn traditional “writing” into visual/video
Admittedly, this is more of a hard skill, rather than the broader soft skills of adaptability and research analysis listed above. But it will be especially important for experienced marketing writers looking to maintain their relevance.
With video emerging as a dominant format, there will more call for content creators who can write for video production rather than only text-dominant formats such as blog posts and ebooks. The change in format is something that some of HubSpot’s respondents are already taking action to work with: “I mostly write content right now, but I’m afraid it may begin to diminish more and more with video,” says one. Another noted: “I’m learning new tactics (i.e., video).”
What skills are you adding to keep up in today’s evolving content marketing environment? What skills are you looking for when hiring for your team? Share the abilities you think will be key to marketing success in the future in the comments.
Find a broader outlook on what the future holds for marketing in State of Inbound 2017 and What to Expect in 2018. Or download one of our guides: Resourcing Your Inbound Marketing for those building a team and Your First 100 Days In A New Marketing Job for those looking to make a great first impression.