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It is often believed that a marketer is a jack of all trades. They will make a newsletter, draw a banner, and write a strategy. In fact, a marketer does not necessarily have to be able to do everything: there are universal skills that a specialist must master, and there are those that are needed in specific marketing niches. In the article we will analyze what a good marketer must necessarily be able to do, what skills will be useful in specialized areas and how to develop them.

Soft and hard skills: what is it and why a marketer should develop both

To begin with, let’s understand the concepts. Soft or soft skills are personal competencies that cannot be measured. They are related to a person’s emotional intelligence. This includes communication skills, leadership qualities, ability to work in a team, etc. Practical or hard skills are skills that can be learned and measured. 

The fundamental difference is that hard skills will not be difficult to develop: enough dedication and perseverance. With soft skills, the situation is more complicated, because a specialist needs to work out internal beliefs, control emotions, and learn to communicate with people.

In some professions, either soft or hard skills are mainly important. Engineers, doctors, builders pay attention to hard skills, and actors, artists, and sales managers pay attention to soft skills. A marketer should develop both types of competencies. He should not only know the basics of marketing, be able to conduct analytics, but also organize a team, delegate authority, and understand the target audience.  If a specialist is fixated on only one area, then he will not be able to achieve the main goal – to increase the company’s sales.

Soft and hard skills of a good marketer

The exact list of skills that a specialist should possess will depend on the industry in which he works. A brand marketer should understand the subtleties of design, be able to work in graphic editors, and a content manager should run social networks, write selling texts, and draw up a blog strategy. Therefore, we will consider universal hard and soft skills that are valued in a specialist regardless of his specialization. They are enough to start a career in marketing.

Soft skills

The work of a marketer is connected with constant communication, team organization, and research by the target audience. Therefore, an expert cannot do without the following soft skills:

Sociability. Marketers constantly communicate with customers, designers, analysts, copywriters. In order for the developer to make a website that the customer will be satisfied with, the marketer must not only ask the right questions to the client, but also explain everything to the programmer in an accessible way. The effectiveness of the work of a marketing specialist depends on communication.

Curiosity.  Market trends are constantly changing, and the marketer has to constantly keep his finger on the pulse in order to offer effective solutions. If an expert constantly studies different niches, reads company news, monitors their development, then he will have no problems with promotion ideas.

Leadership qualities. A marketer does not work alone, so he must be able to organize a team.  If the customer has agreed to the implementation of the strategy, the expert gathers all the necessary specialists, delegates authority to them and controls their work. If the contractors do not see him as a leader, they will disrupt the deadlines, do as they see fit, or even “score” on the task.

Persuasion and presentation. A good marketer should be able to protect his strategy, convey the benefits of the product to the buyer. The ability to convince will help to convey to the manager that the advertising budget should be increased, as well as explain to the customer why it is necessary to change the company logo.

Analytical mind. Marketing is a constant research, testing of hypotheses and assumptions. If sales have fallen after the launch of the advertising campaign, a good expert on several economic indicators will determine the reason and adjust the actions.

Multitasking. A marketing specialist often has to work with several projects or close several positions in a small company. In order for the effectiveness of the expert not to fall, you need to be able to switch: while the analytical report is being loaded, the marketer can schedule tasks for the designer and arrange a meeting with the customer.

Creativity. The specialist must constantly generate new ideas and solutions. If the company’s revenues are falling, and people are tired of ordinary promotions, the marketer will have to develop an event that will interest the target audience and return its loyalty.

Empathy. For marketing ideas to work, they must fall into the pain of the target audience. A marketer must understand what is hidden behind people’s words, what their needs are, read their reaction to offer a solution that they will definitely buy.

In specific areas of marketing, additional soft skills will be needed. The head of the marketing department should be able to adapt new employees to the task, organize the work of the whole department. The brand manager must additionally have a sense of style and taste in order to offer a visual identity that both the customer and the buyers will like.

Hard skills

A marketer will not be able to work without knowledge and solid skills. A specialist has to work with digital technologies, be able to upload analytics and understand cause-and-effect relationships. To do this, you need to master the following hard-skills:

Knowledge of the basics of marketing. Without this, a novice specialist will not even be able to communicate with colleagues in the same language. To develop even the simplest promotion, a marketer at least needs to know what the target audience is, what marketing tools exist and how to properly plan a marketing budget.

Be able to work with data and analytics. The main goal of marketing is to increase the company’s revenue, and it is impossible to track this result without numbers. A specialist should be able to work in analytical programs, interpret indicators and analyze large amounts of data. Based on analytics, we can talk about the effectiveness of a particular advertisement.

Knowledge of marketing tools. It is not enough to come up with a strategy and concept of an advertising campaign. A specialist should understand what methods of promotion, techniques, tools need to be applied in order to implement it in practice.

Be able to identify the target audience. To make customers an offer that they cannot refuse, you need to understand their pain and needs. If you know how to segment and analyze the target audience, you can always find out what your customers are worried about and what pains you need to put pressure on.

Conduct marketing research. Hypotheses, advertising campaigns are built in marketing not on intuition, but on facts. To do this, marketers conduct surveys, experiments, focus groups to get information about customers and understand which methods of promotion work best.

Hard skills in marketing are provided by specialists with basic knowledge, from which he starts developing a promotion strategy. If a marketer works in a narrower field or a small company, then he will have to master additional skills. For example, a copywriter should learn how to write selling texts, when working with social networks – SMM promotion, and a specialist working with websites should know the basics of SEO.

How to develop soft skills and hard skills?

To become a good specialist, it is necessary to constantly improve soft and hard skills. There are several ways to do this:

Online courses. Learn not only the basics of marketing, but also related disciplines such as SEO, SMM, web analytics, copywriting, mailing lists. This way you can talk to the team in the same language or even completely replace the specialist you lack in the project.

Conferences. Marketing conferences of various levels are held monthly all over the world. Participants not only learn about new trends, get ideas, but also communicate with colleagues, make acquaintances.

Mentor. Experienced marketers often offer a mentoring program to share their skills. You can discuss your decisions with a colleague, learn about new tools, and improve soft skills.

To work in an agency. The difference from a regular company is that you will face tasks from different niches. This way you will not only master the necessary skills in practice, but also learn about the specifics of business from different areas.

Make your own project. You will not only hone your skills, but you will also be able to make money on it. Start a blog on a social network, start pumping your personal brand and gain subscribers. So you will understand in practice how to work correctly with this or that marketing tool.

Useful literature. Start with a mandatory list for a marketer. Read Kotler’s “Fundamentals of Marketing”. Then move on to specialized literature for specific industries. For example, for Internet marketers we recommend “Internet marketing is a digital marketer’s handbook”.

Be sure to study other people’s cases and learn from the experience of other marketers. This way you will understand which marketing tools are still working, and which ones it’s time to give up.

How to evaluate your soft and hard skills?

It is possible to understand how well you possess certain skills only in practice. If you haven’t worked with cases of other companies yet, then use the advice from the previous paragraph and create your own project. It can be an online store, consultations on issues in which you are an expert, etc. For the development of the project, you will have to face the standard tasks of a marketer and show your knowledge.

When hiring, the employer evaluates the skills of a marketer based on his portfolio, successful cases and personal brand. Therefore, be sure to collect the projects you have worked on to demonstrate what kind of specialist you are.

Marketing is constantly evolving, so even if you have the listed competencies, you do not need to stop there. To be in demand as a marketer, develop your soft and hard skills that will add value to you as a professional.