Whether you’re on the hunt for top talent or looking to future-proof your own marketing career, it pays to know the most valued skills in today’s market. As marketing functions have taken on more importance and scope, the demand for diverse marketing skill sets has grown.
Robin Re, VP of Marketing at Industry Dive, has seen firsthand this increased demand for multidisciplinary skill sets. “The mantra of ‘do more with less’ not only speaks to the resources, staff, and budget that marketers have available to them right now, but also to the skills that one marketer is expected to have,” she said. “In particular, I think the lines between strategy and execution have blurred. Those that ‘dream’ without the ability to ‘do’ are seen as expensive investments, perhaps unnecessary in the resource-strapped environment we’re in.”
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Enter the multi-hyphenate marketer, someone with practical and strategic experience that traverses traditionally distinct functions. They may have taken a hybrid role, or had a ‘squiggly’ career that’s taken them across disciplines. And, as Re says, they are “generalists with a specialist’s ability to execute.” In either case, they possess the cross-functional skills modern marketing needs.
The ever-evolving role of marketers
The desired skills for marketers also continue to change, with the top 10 preferred experience areas for the role changing as much as 50% since 2015, according to LinkedIn. This shifting wish list is affecting the recruitment process at both ends of the spectrum. In 2022, Re saw hires from education into marketing, she highlights the shared skills across industries, including breaking down complex ideas for others, problem-solving, relationship-building, and persuasion.
At the other end, there are marketers entering new disciplines like revenue operations (‘RevOps’). “This is one of the newest and fastest-growing departments that marketers are talking about,” says Re. “This team has a really unique perspective about where and how to drive revenue, understands data intimately, and knows how to work with sales. The role represents a healthy pipeline for marketing leadership.”
It’s possible — in fact advisable — to reimagine yourself as a multi-hyphenate marketer. We’ll explore the skills with the greatest opportunity, whether you’re looking for a career shift, or want to understand which internal motivations, goals, and priorities to get a grasp of beyond your own.
1. Data analysis
Data-driven insights create a foundation for stronger decision making across the organization, and marketing has evolved from being a creative discipline to one supported by market, performance, and customer data. Today’s marketer – whether in brand, content, or demand generation, needs to possess strong skills in mining data for insights to drive ROI.
According to Salesforce’s 2022 Marketing Intelligence report, 93% of marketers plan to either increase or maintain their investments in customer data platforms, with 90% doing the same in marketing analytics. Despite this upward trend, just 51% of marketing teams have employees dedicated to analytics.
Advice for hirers: While data strategists still have a place within the company, all employees need to be familiar with analyzing data. Consider adding a data test in your recruitment process, allocate budget for training, and hire from roles that largely share metrics with marketing — such as the customer, content, or sales roles.
Advice for practitioners: Get up-to-date on the most relevant marketing metrics to your organization, and make sure you understand the value of zero-party and first-party data. Set time to dig into data reports with a clear learning objective and outcome for each session.
2. A sales mindset
The success of marketing and sales is intertwined, yet marketing and sales teams are often at odds due to a mismatch in goals or expectations. LinkedIn data shows that 90% of sales and marketing professionals are misaligned across strategy, process, content, and culture. Nearly 100% (98% of sellers and 97% of marketers) say that bad alignment negatively impacts both businesses and customers.
Multi-hyphenate marketers who understand sales techniques, and take the time to connect their company’s sales cycle to their campaigns, can help achieve better results. Learning how sales teams handle objections and position core products can also influence more effective marketing strategies.
Advice for hirers: There’s an obvious draw to someone who has worked in both sales and marketing, but these applicants can be hard to find. Test their familiarity with documenting the customer journey and creating marketing collateral against it. Assess their collaboration skills, and understand their comfort level with cross-company KPIs. If it’s a challenge to find these skillsets, job shares and ‘learn my job’ training led by staff can help grow them.
Advice for practitioners: Adopt a sales mindset rather than an ‘us and them’ attitude. Ask if you can join sales calls and meetings and take opportunities to learn from sales colleagues. Gain familiarity with sales tools like lead scoring to help connect your marketing efforts. Understand the gaps in moving someone from audience to prospect.
3. Customer success and experience
The buyer journey is a complex multiverse of touch points that is increasingly hard to map and influence. Furthermore, the average buying committee has expanded with at least five individuals from different functional areas, a 2022 audience survey by Informa Engage found.
While intent data is a great resource, the customer experience is the internal equivalent. The CX team has insights into every aspect of the customer journey — and with virtually 100% of buyers preferring to self-serve some or all of the buying journey (up from 13% in the previous year), the experience of the customer is non-negotiable.
Advice for hirers: Consider recruiting for your next multi-hyphenate marketing from other teams. The customer team offers a great hiring pool for both sales and marketing, particularly at the junior to mid level.
Advice for practitioners: Consider shadowing a CX team leader for a week and report back to your team on what you’ve found. Look for other opportunities to learn about the customers’ needs, not just once but continuously. Don’t limit your learnings to CX; build a strong knowledge of UX best practices too. Learning these principles helps you adopt a customer first vs. brand first mindset.
4. Content strategy
Nearly 71% of B2B marketers say content marketing has become more important to their organization in the last year, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Many businesses see the power of content to drive brand awareness, keep potential customers engaged over long purchase cycles, and ultimately bridge the gap between sales and marketing goals.
For marketers, being skilled in content marketing is a multidisciplinary function. In addition to having strong writing skills (many content marketers start their career as journalists), you also need to have a firm grasp of who your target audience is, the various channels you can use to push content to them, and how to optimize content performance across those channels with tactics like SEO.
Above all, good content comes down to a great understanding of the customer. In fact, 62% of enterprise content marketers struggle to create content that appeals to different stages of the customer journey.
Advice for hirers: Think about industry expertise the next time you are hiring for a marketing role, in addition to previous editorial experience. Having marketers enmeshed in your target market can give your business a competitive edge.
Advice for practitioners: Build your content creation skills. Don’t rely just on freelance creative talent to produce your assets. Whether it’s developing the brief, creating an outline, or even editing the copy, the closer you are to the final product, the more you can ensure it hits on what your customers care about.
5. Event and experience design
Consumers are coming back to in-person experiences and companies are responding by boosting their investments: For example, over half of technology companies (57%) expect to increase spending on in-person events in 2023 compared with 2022.
Like content creation, event planning involves cross-functional knowledge, like which topics will drive ticket sales, what sales need in order to sell sponsorships, and how marketing nurtures event leads. Event data offers a valuable means to share customer insights across the business, and conversely use the information sitting in multiple teams to improve the event experience.
Advice for hirers: Event producers have knowledge of numerous sales and marketing disciplines and touchpoints, so are ideal candidates for a multi-hyphenate marketing role. Test their knowledge of the customer and how it translates to actions and opportunities across sales and marketing. Examine their understanding of marketing beyond the event space, from multi-channel tactics to campaign delivery.
Advice for practitioners: If you’re already a marketer, get close to your events team to understand your customer better, from event lead generation to delegate feedback and booth attendance, there’s a lot to tap into.
Marketing never stops evolving, which means you need to continue to hone your toolbox of skill sets. Multi-disciplinary marketers have an opportunity to drive growth, make an outsized impact on their organizations, and strengthen their own careers.
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