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Hire someone great to help with your marketing: top skills for 2017

5 minute read

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Considering how fast paced the marketing world is today, it’s often difficult for businesses to keep up with the skills needed to succeed. Over the last 20 years the internet has increasingly digitalised the way in which a business operates and changed the way their customers behave.

Customers have shorter attention spans, an expectation for immediacy and a proficiency at multitasking. To meet their needs, the marketer of 2017 must be a special breed. They need to be able to master the whole marketing cycle, from using “big data” to inform their approach to writing creatively for the blog.

If this isn’t your area of expertise it can be challenging to know what attributes to seek, so we’ve created a list of skills and experience to look out for when hiring a marketing executive:

1. A lifelong learner

The digital world is developing fast and it’s crucial that your digital marketer can keep up. It isn’t possible for anyone to know everything about marketing, so hire a keen and curious learner. Ideally they can peek ahead of the curve to identify up-coming marketing trends and keep your business on track.

Your marketing assistant must know where to look for resources and be an avid reader of authoritative blogs such as Moz, Econsultancy, Smart Insights, Distilled and many more.

Conferences are a useful and often free way to keep up with the latest marketing trends. Look out for your potential interviewee having attended events like BrightonSEO and Ungagged – both are a must for the budding marketer.

2. Communication

Good communication is an essential element of almost any job these days, but it’s particularly important in marketing.

Marketing is interdisciplinary; your marketer must be able to call on expertise from across the company and the freelance market, integrate them into the marketing strategy and communicate results of their activity to the company.

For example, they may need to outsource SEO to a digital agency, draw on the in-house design team to refresh the company website and give monthly updates to management on marketing KPIs.

They also need to reach out effectively to potential customers, draw on their existing customer base for feedback and reviews and network with guest bloggers and influencers to gain brand exposure.

A marketer who can communicate well with all these parties is a keeper!

3. Good time management

With many components constituting a whole marketing strategy – on and offline, content, SEO, PPC, data analysis, PR, social media and design – your marketer needs to be able to manage their time effectively.

A typical day might include management of social media marketing, analysing and reporting on Google Analytics web traffic, drawing up a paid advertising campaign on AdWords and drafting a blog post.

It’s complicated to say the least and requires someone able to manage time and understand priorities successfully.

4. All-round skills

Such variety in the modern marketing world demands the marketing professional to have experience across both digital and traditional marketing approaches.

Digital Skills:

  • Content marketing: Arguably the top priority for 2017, there’s an increasing focus on content as the key to marketing success. A person who can create content across a variety of platforms is crucial. Content includes blog posts, downloadable resources, website copy and email campaigns, among others.
  • Social marketing: Social media remains key to ensuring your audience and potential customers can find your business online. Your digital marketer must build a social media strategy that responds to how your customers, your industry influencers and competition are behaving online. Paid advertising also comes under this umbrella.
  • Design and UX: While digital marketers shouldn’t be expected to be design experts, some experience in setting up wireframes or page mock-ups, mapping the customer journey and basic image Photoshopping will go a long way.
  • Analytics: Marketing needs to be data-driven, targeted and specific to optimise your budget. Your marketer must be able to set up and track elements of your marketing campaign and use the data to inform future decisions. They must also draw on “big data” to influence how you position your business in the market.
  • SEO: Given that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and four out of five consumers use search engines to get information about local businesses, SEO remains a crucial element of marketing. Even if you’re outsourcing your SEO to an agency or specialist, it’s important that your in-house marketing person knows the basics of keyword research, content, acquiring quality links and how to look for and fix crawl errors on your website.
  • Mobile-first marketing: Mobile must be considered first in website design, emails and social media as so many consumers interact with a business from their smartphone. Mobile Apps are also vital to how businesses capture their audience so hire someone with experience in this realm.
  • Video Marketing: In 2017 it’s estimated that video marketing will account for 69% of all consumer traffic and landing pages with videos will generate 800% more conversions than those without. Your marketer must know how to use videos in their marketing campaigns to tap into this trend. They don’t need to be big-budget videos but they do need to tell a compelling story and be optimised for the web with appropriate meta-descriptions and keyword-rich tags.

Offline skills:

  • Strategy and planning: Traditional approaches to strategic planning are still valid for the digital world and can underpin an integrated and robust campaign.
  • Event marketing: Networking events look different in the digital age. Face-to-face schmoozing is increasingly being replaced with online webinars and live podcasts. Whether it’s virtual or physical, networking remains crucial to a marketing strategy and should be a consideration when you’re hiring your marketer.
  • Public relations: Building your brand’s visibility is as important as ever in the digital era. Look for someone with the PR skills to work with online journalists, bloggers, and influencers as well as traditional printed media.
  • Printed material: Don’t completely discount printed marketing strategies in the rush for digital strategies. Snail mail, for example, is still extremely successful in reaching certain people who are not online (there are still some of them!).

5. Specialisation

Your marketing employee should have a particular expertise as well as a broad knowledge of all elements of marketing.

Depending on the nature of your business and your current priorities, you’ll need to consider which areas you need your new hire to excel in. If you run a hair salon then a social media specialist would be an excellent fit. If you’re in the manufacturing industry a data analysis expert would be more suitable.

Either way, hiring a ‘generalist’ might require training further down the line and limit the level of traction you achieve in your marketing.

6. A creative thinker

Creativity is vital to ensure a marketing executive can thrive in a constantly-evolving environment. There’s no ’right’ way to market a business and endless ways to achieve success. Your marketing hand must be able to come up with fresh ideas and work hard to find campaigns that are right for the company. Thinking outside the box is an absolute must.

If businesses are to reach their audience effectively in a rapidly-evolving digital landscape they must adopt a data-driven strategic approach that integrates both on- and off-line activity and incorporates a multi-platform, multi-layered plan.

To facilitate this, look for a marketing hire who’s naturally curious, able to multi-task and manage their time efficiently. You want good communication skills, a creative mind and a tool kit of digital and traditional marketing skills.

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Charlotte Jenkins is an Oxford-based content marketer. She has several years’ experience in content writing, editing and digital marketing, helping clients communicate their businesses online.

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