Top Marketing Skills of 2017

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What are the top marketing skills of 2017? Let’s look at three trends, three interesting data points that might inform our focus.

One: LinkedIn released its overall top job skills of 2017, showing an absence of many marketing skills…

job skills for 2017.png

… and had this to say:

“Demand for marketers is slowing: While marketing skills like marketing campaign management, SEO/SEM, and channel marketing were in high demand in 2015, things have changed. This year, SEO/SEM dropped five spots from #4 to #9 and marketing campaign management dropped completely off the list. Demand for marketing skills is slowing because the supply of people with marketing skills has caught up with employers’ demand for people with marketing skills.”

Two: Meanwhile, O’Dwyer’s Report, an industry leading news journal about the communications industry, reported that Publicis Groupe, one of the largest companies experienced a slide in revenues and growth. Publicis isn’t alone in sluggish growth; Omnicom reported the same in Q3, especially for the North American market.

Three: search volumes for the most popular forms of marketing – including marketing itself – are on a slow, multi-year decline, with the exception of social media marketing and email marketing.

Marketing types by search volume, from Google Trends.png

What might we conclude from these three data points? Either employer demand for marketing skills has been satisfied, or marketing talent – from years of “become a marketer” – has fulfilled the demand.

Both scenarios are plausible; however, I believe it’s the former, that companies simply invest less in marketing now. From the Q3 economic snapshots, we know that the macro economic picture isn’t bad. If we had a flood of surplus talent, we would see spikes in search volume for all relevant forms of marketing as new talent learned the ropes.

Why Do Companies Invest Less in Marketing?

With content shock, our marketing is becoming less effective. We know this.

  • SEO is progressively more and more difficult with the flood of new content.
  • Unpaid social media reach is a bad joke now.
  • Paid social media reach is expensive.
  • PPC and display clickthrough rates are an equally bad joke.

With results like this, is it any surprise companies are investing less in marketing? Marketing’s lack of performance explains all three data points: companies pivot to value new and different skills, most of which are not marketing-related. Major marketing communications firms are suffering sluggish growth. Searches are plateauing for major types of marketing.

There’s a marketing crisis, a storm brewing. We marketers aren’t improving our skills. We aren’t mastering the new – and we are in real danger of being left behind.

As you do your 2017 marketing planning, give consideration to the trends above and how you might combat them, how you will defend marketing budget increases or preservation. How will you continue to prove value as a marketer? How will you drive any improvement in marketing performance?

Here’s my suggestion. Pay attention to skills 1, 2, 4, 7, and 8:

  • Cloud/distributed computing: learn this to make your marketing more efficient and scalable.
  • Statistical analysis and data mining: all your marketing insights will come from here.
  • Middleware and integration software: if you want a holistic picture of your marketing, you will need software to tie everything together.
  • Mobile development: the world is already mobile. If you’re not, catch up.
  • Data presentation: we have lots of data. We communicate it incredibly poorly. We must do better.

The last skill we’ll need? Fluency with machine learning and artificial intelligence. We have no future if we don’t understand the rise of the machines.

These are the skills marketers will need to master to survive and thrive in 2017 and beyond.

Are you ready?

Will you be ready?

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One response to “Top Marketing Skills of 2017”

  1. You take the right approach with the overlay of the larger categories and apply them to Marketing as a whole. One of the biggest problems is too many marketers, or non-marketing execs think Marketing is all about SEO/SEM and Social and email. In other words – tactics. Another huge problem is how marketers and CMO’s don’t know how to measure and communicate the value and influence they have on the business. I believe LinkedIn’s list indirectly shows how Marketing is growing in strategic prominence within companies, especially in the B2B realm. The volume of discreet skills may not rank, but the demand is there, AND companies likely don’t know where the gaps are in their modern marketing efforts. Marketing has more influence on driving revenue and customer engagement than anytime I’ve seen in my career. The days of tactical and activity-based marketing are over. I absolutely agree with systems integration and data analysis as critical areas for marketers. The new generation of CMO’s have to tie everything together with more complexities than ever before. We may be in an trough of despair with weakening demand for some marketing skills. But as we move farther down the path I strongly believe demand for strategic Marketing skills will continue to grow.

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