Almost Timely News, 20 February 2022: Vertical vs. Horizontal Skills, Entry Level Jobs, Data Visualization Basics (2/20) :: View in Browser
Watch This Newsletter On YouTube
What’s On My Mind: Vertical and Horizontal Skills
I was having a chat with my oldest child today as they’re starting to think about higher education, postsecondary education. They asked what I thought they should study, and I suggested they think about which horizontal skills they enjoy the most.
For clarity, let’s define these terms. When we think of verticals, we think of industries. Accounting. Human Resources. Marketing. Manufacturing. If you look at a data source like the NAICS code index, everything on that list is a vertical, from agriculture to zookeeping.
When we study in university or in professional development and training, very often we’re learning vertical skills. How to be a better accountant. How to improve our carpentry skills. These vertical skills are important, parts of our trade skills. How proficient we are dictates to a fair degree how successful we are. Someone really bad at marketing probably won’t be in the marketing profession for long. Vertical knowledge applies only in that particular vertical industry.
Horizontal skills, on the other hand, are skills that cross industries. Writing. Audio composition. Video. Management. Psychology. These skills are nearly universal, and are a substantial boost to our careers. Someone who’s an excellent writer can do well in many, many verticals. In today’s always on, always watching world, someone who can make great video will do well in tons of different industries. Someone with a strong understanding of mathematics and statistics can apply that knowledge in many different ways and situations. Horizontal knowledge applies broadly with relatively little change to the core essence across many industries.
I counsel my kid to think about studying horizontal skills for two reasons. First, they’re obviously very transferable. Someone who’s good at managing other people or managing projects can work in pretty much any industry and be successful, from industrial concrete to artificial intelligence to adult entertainment. Everyone needs good managers to help make the workforce work better. Everyone needs good project management to ensure things get done on time and under budget.
But here’s the real secret: horizontal skills are somewhat harder to build automation for, and really difficult for artificial intelligence to copy effectively. Why? Because horizontal skills are influenced by the vertical they’re placed in, but the important knowledge isn’t stored in the vertical. For example, let’s take being a good writer. Machines are developing decent writing skills, as we talked about a couple of issues ago. That said, they still struggle with very specific writing tasks without a lot of training, and they can’t really write anything original. Everything that a machine writes is synthesized from prior writing it’s learned from.
Thus, if you want a machine to write great technical papers in, say, vacu-formed plastics, you will need to tune an existing model on that topic with lots of good content about that topic – and that may not exist. At least not enough in quantity to really train a machine well.
Let’s take audio engineering. A machine can learn some of the tactical basics of audio engineering, like how to remove noise or how to compress audio to a certain specification. Many commercial audio packages like Adobe Audition have these capabilities baked right in. But we are still far from the ability to take raw audio of any kind and have a machine spit out a polished product with no intervention because the rules change from vertical to vertical, application to application. What is great audio engineering for a spoken word podcast would horrifically mangle a musical piece. What sounds great for engineering on classical music is going to sound downright peculiar for jazz. And yet every company that’s trying out a podcast needs some help, and that requires the horizontal skill of audio engineering.
Horizontal skills have a ton of variation because they change from industry to industry, from application to application. We humans are really good at adapting to different generalizations, and our machine counterparts are still a long way off from being able to transfer skills so easily. So when I tell my child about what they might want to think about studying, I’m suggesting horizontal skills as a way to future-proof their career as best as possible for the years to come.
So here’s my question to you. What vertical skills do you have? What horizontal skills do you have? And how much of your professional development and training efforts do you invest in each? They’re both important, but horizontal skills are a little more future-proof, so make sure your investment in yourself reflects that.
Share With a Friend or Colleague
If you enjoy this newsletter and want to share it with a friend/colleague, please do. Send this URL to your friend/colleague:
ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
If I had to pick one thing for you to review this week, it would be the rant I have about entry level jobs. Please, if you’re hiring, give it a read.
- Mind Readings: Entry Level Means No Experience
- Mind Readings: The Price of Overexaggeration
- PODCAST: Basics of Data Visualization
- Mind Readings: Idea Capture Anywhere
- You Ask, I Answer: Machine Learning vs. AI?
- You Ask, I Answer: Third Party Analytics for LinkedIn?
Skill Up With Free Classes
These are just a few of the free classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.
- Fundamentals of Marketing Analytics (new!)
- How to Think About Google Analytics 4 (new!)
- Proving Social Media ROI
- Paradise by the Analytics Dashboard Light: How to Create Impactful Dashboards and Reports
- How to Deliver More Value as an Agency
Get Back to Work!
Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these five most recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.
- Digital Analytics Specialist at REA Group
- Events Marketing Manager at AKASA
- Content Marketing Manager at Plainsware
- VP of Client Services at Test Double
- Brand Manager at Owens Corning
Ad: How to Prove the ROI of your Marketing Agency
I put together a brand new talk on how agencies could use data-driven marketing as a way to showcase their value and real results they obtain. Fundamentally, agencies need to take five steps to make this journey:
- Become data-driven. Making decisions with data allows you to act faster and make better decisions when done right.
- Be crystal clear about KPIs. What’s a KPI? It’s the number you get your bonus for (or fired for).
- Build an agency cookbook. Cookbooks set apart good agencies from great ones.
- Use data to become proactive. Impress clients by being more proactive and pushing them.
- Squeeze all the juice from your tools. You probably don’t need to buy more tools.
An agency which takes these steps becomes more and more valuable to its clients. For folks on the client side, these are the things you should expect of your agencies, things you should ask for when agencies are pitching you. Agencies not doing these things will not serve you as well as they could. There’s obviously a lot more detail, so go ahead and watch the talk now.
What I’m Reading: Your Stuff
Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.
Social Media Marketing
- How To Network On LinkedIn For Your Clients via Agorapulse
- Create a Social Media Landing Page That Rocks via Agorapulse
- B2B Marketing Through LinkedIn: Strategies To Succeed
Media and Content
- How to Develop a Content Marketing Plan via Sprout Social
- The Content Marketing Industry in 2022
- Audience Pain Point Content Mapping via Mightybytes
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- 12 Important SEO KPIs You Should Track
- How To Do A Complete Local SEO Audit: 10-Point Checklist
- 12 SEO Techniques to Increase Organic Traffic
Advertisement: Supermetrics for Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is an incredibly powerful tool for bringing your data into one place for analysis. Out of the box, it serves up Google ecosystem data that marketers need – Google Analytics, Google Search Console, YouTube, Google Ads.
But what about… Facebook data? LinkedIn data? SEO data? Data from your CRM or marketing automation software? That’s where Google Data Studio has some gaps.
Fill those gaps with the Supermetrics Integration for Google Data Studio with over 70 different supported integrations like most social networks, CallRail, Adobe Analytics, Bing Ads, Pinterest, Stripe, Semrush, Salesforce, and so many others. Get ALL your marketing data in one place for easy reporting.
Tools, Machine Learning, and AI
- Machine Learning Algorithms Top 5 via R-bloggers
- Google AI Blog: Good News About the Carbon Footprint of Machine Learning Training
- Grapes in, Champagne Out: How AI is Transforming the Sales Funnel via Martech Zone
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- Linear Regression with Python Implementation via Analytics Vidhya
- How Google Analytics 4 Enables Patient Care for the Healthcare Industry via Seer Interactive
- Data Analytics is Fundamental to Next-Gen Marketing for New Businesses
Advertisement: MarketMuse for SEO
How do you create content at scale? You could hire dozens of copywriters and SEO specialists – or you could engage an army of machines to jumpstart the process. That’s what MarketMuse is – an army of AI content creators at your fingertips. Research keywords based on topics instead of narrow phrases, have machines write your first drafts, and boost your SEO results immediately.
How to Stay in Touch
Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:
- My blog – daily videos, blog posts, and podcast episodes
- My YouTube channel – daily videos, conference talks, and all things video
- My company, Trust Insights – marketing analytics help
- My podcast, Marketing over Coffee – weekly episodes of what’s worth noting in marketing
- My second podcast, In-Ear Insights – the Trust Insights weekly podcast focused on data and analytics
- On Twitter – multiple daily updates of marketing news
- On LinkedIn – daily videos and news
- On Instagram – personal photos and travels
- My free Slack discussion forum, Analytics for Marketers – open conversations about marketing and analytics
Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.
Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.
See you next week,
Christopher S. Penn
You might also enjoy:
- Marketing Data Science: Introduction to Data Blending
- It's Okay to Not Be Okay Right Now
- How To Set Your Consulting Billing Rates and Fees
- Almost Timely News, 17 October 2021: Content Creation Hacks, Vanity Metrics, NFTs
- The Basic Truth of Mental Health
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:
Get your copy of AI For Marketers