There’s never been a better time for a professional marketer’s career to flourish. Overall employment of marketing professionals is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations (Bureau of labor Statistics). While demand is high, marketers face several challenges, like the constant evolution of digital marketing, AI and other technologies, along with ever-increasing expectations for personalized customer experiences. Marketers need stronger “hard” skills than ever, but soft skills are just as essential for a marketer to succeed.
Hard Skills vs Soft Skills
Hard skills include teachable skills that you gain through training and experience. Hard skills can be clearly quantified and measured; you can easily determine if someone has a hard skill or not. Examples of common hard skills include: foreign language fluency, knowing a specific computer program or language, or job-related licensing or certification.
Marketers need many hard skills to succeed. Depending on a marketer’s area of expertise, some of today’s most important marketing hard skills might include Google Analytics, SEO, UX design, content strategy & creation, product design, or front-end development.
In contrast, soft skills are personal traits that shape how a person works, and these soft skills are necessary to create a positive and functional work environment. Some people innately have a particular soft skill; for instance, some people are natural public speakers. Soft skills can also, however, be developed over time with the right experiences. Someone who is not a natural public speaker can nurture this skill by joining Toastmasters or seizing more speaking opportunities in their personal or professional life.
Hard skills and soft skills are equally important. A person could have strong hard skills, but if they can’t communicate and get along with the team, issues will arise. A person might have the best soft skills – for instance, they might be an awesome team player - but if they can’t do the work, they won’t succeed.
Our Favorite Marketing Soft Skills
Regardless of your expertise, the following soft skills are important for every marketer to have:
Creativity – When people think of creativity, they often think of someone who is artistic in some way. What we’re focused on here is the ability to think creatively about work or when problem solving or brainstorming about an issue. Creative thinking can bring fresh, innovative solutions to problems or opportunities.
Adaptability – Change is constant. We can make the best project plans but then our internal or external customers can change the scope, deadline, or messaging. We’re always trying to adapt to changing algorithms from Google, Facebook, and Instagram. Marketers must constantly adapt to changing dynamics without getting frustrated.
Curiosity – The best marketers are the best listeners who approach a challenge or project with an open mind. Curious is that desire to continuously seek understanding and knowledge and it often ignites creativity, innovation, and intelligence.
Lifelong Learner – The strongest marketers are constantly learning. It’s a requirement, really, since the world of marketing evolves at a such rapid pace. If you’re not constantly reading and educating yourself, you will fall behind.
Collaboration – Marketing is a team sport. No single marketing role or function stands on its own. Marketing professionals work in a highly integrated manner with other areas within marketing or other areas of the business (like marketing + sales or marketing + the IT team). Marketers need to be skilled at communication, collaboration, and building relationships.
Humility – The best marketers are humble. They’re comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” It’s critical that marketers are open to feedback. Humility is not about weakness; it requires strength to be humble. It’s about the ability to accept criticism without defensiveness or taking things too personally. Humility is often about knowing that you don’t know everything.
A strong balance between hard skills and soft skills is the key to any marketer’s success. What other soft skills do you think are important for marketers to have?
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