Planning Skills You Need to Have in Marketing
Planning, Strategising and Organising. Why Bother?
Most people believe successful marketing is down to having a masterplan.
For example, hugely successful email campaigns are the result of painstaking brainstorm sessions about which subject line works best. Similarly, memorable advertising campaigns give thanks to hours of target market research to make sure the brand messaging hits that sweet spot.
So much of marketing jargon focuses on “strategy” and that’s not a coincidence.
Although explaining and thinking about the inner workings of strategising can seem soul-destroying, creativity crushing and downright boring, it is an important step in creating a campaign that isn’t published on a whim and results in being a huge flop.
Strategising kills oversight, human error and bias. That’s why, as a marketing manager, you should possess great planning skills to get the ball rolling and also involve colleagues and focus groups of customers in enhancing the process.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and it was founded by two siblings — Romulus and Remus — not an only child.
Marketing Managers, Listen Up — Nourish These Three Skill Sets
The majority of people think Type-A personalities are suited to marketing roles.
We’re talking highly-organised individuals who thrive off stress. They’re the Patrick Batemans and Miranda Priestlys of this world.
And while a little bit of a Type-A mindset will help you to stay focused, we argue there is more than one skill set necessary to succeed in marketing.
Type A is one of them. The other two focus on creativity and teamwork:
Type-A Skills That Will Help You Achieve
A healthy dose of neuroticism will stop you from making mistakes or producing subpar campaigns. Type-A personalities are never lazy and tend to end up being big achievers because of their ability to focus on their goals.
Here are some marketing-related skills that align with a Type-A personality:
- Organisational Skills
- Research Skills
- Laser-Focused Discipline
- Evaluation Skills
- Deep Understanding of Terminology
- Analytical Knowledge
- Spreadsheet and Software Skills (Excel Exposure is a great place to start)
- Drive and Self-Development
- Financially Focused
- Good Goal-Setting
This robotic nature might cause your competitors to sneer — but only because they’re jealous of your commitment, proactiveness and ultimate success.
The ability to write clear briefs, keep on top of your communication and measure your campaigns makes all marketing work worthwhile.
Team members across departments will find it easier to work with you.
Senior staff members will have no issue in trusting you.
These skills are essential in producing effective campaigns that have proven ROI.
Creative Skills That Makes Content Flourish
Creativity is when organised you runs loose to make sure that even when everything is running like clockwork, your campaigns don’t seem routine, forced or scheduled.
Creative skills should bring out your inner Picasso, allowing you to daydream about producing campaigns that rank with Dairy Milk’s wacky idea of putting a gorilla on the drums and McDonald’s masterminds who always seem to make fast food emotional.
In fact, most creative concepts require marketers to have empathy.
Advertising success is the ability to understand the severity of odd pregnancy cravings, the stress of a family wedding and that feeling of returning to the UK where there’s more than plain rice and cheese toasties from 7-Eleven on offer.
When it comes to a gorilla jamming out to Phil Collins — yeah, we’re actually still not sure if we understand that one. But it works.
Here are some creative skills you should work on:
- Writing Ability
- Being Open to Experimentation
- Awareness of Trends
- Conceptual Thinking
- Basic Understanding of Design
- Being Persuasive
- Critical Thinking
- Being Experience-Driven
Transport yourself back to art theory class and if you didn’t class yourself as a creative in your teenage years, spend some time listening to the smooth tones of Bob Ross.
Yes, marketing’s objective is to make more money, generate more leads and increase brand awareness. But you’ll never achieve this if you’re focusing too hard on the facts and figures.
Don’t be afraid to devote as much time to your imagination as you do the number crunching.
Daydreaming is just as important as data.
Surface Level Skills That Streamline Work Processes
Finally, you can’t be totally inexperienced in digital marketing, web development, social media, SEO and finance if you’re going to be working closely with these departments every day.
That’s not to say you’re going to become a competent coder or start to understand those abstract SEO memes floating around on Twitter.
Yet, you should know some surface-level basics that will help you to relate, communicate and engage with your peers.
Try familiarizing yourself with:
- Keyword Research
- Software Like Google Analytics
- Adobe’s Creative Cloud
- Broader Marketing Terminology
- Business Jargon
- Departmental Processes
- Algorithm Updates (the Marie Haynes tracker is really good for historical algorithm reviews)
- Social Platforms
As a marketer, you’re going to slowly pick up a dictionary’s worth of acronyms that explain marketing concepts. Every professional practice has a set of these stuffy terms that make us all sound more unobtainable than we are.
Try to learn some of your colleague’s languages so you can hold a basic conversation about design, finance and web development without getting a headache.
If anything, gaining surface-level skills will make you more aware of how you present yourself to others. Try not to communicate with too much marketing jargon and break down reports, campaigns and conversations in the way you wish others dumbed down their professions to you.
Why Marketing Skills Aren’t Static
Marketing isn’t like riding a bike or learning to swim — you can’t neglect to practice and develop your skills and expect to be riding off into the sunset when you feel like it.
Online marketing is an ever-evolving practice, subject to change from search engine algorithm updates, expanding customer needs and progressive technology.
So, how can you find the time to study?
- Sign up to Email Newsletters — Forget reading long-form blogs and contradictory forums. Email newsletters often give a snapshot of everything you need to know. Self-development doesn’t have to dominate your work routine, yet it can easily feel daunting. Instead, select four of five preferred sources to get your news from that can cut through the noise. We think Moz’s newsletter is a good pick. Ours isn’t so bad, either.
- Get Information from the Source — When marketing-altering events happen, information can easily become distorted when every publication begins to write about it. Take Google algorithm updates, for example, which are covered by almost every digital marketing blog and then scrutinised and argued about on Twitter. At times like this, it’s often better to get information from the source itself, which tends to be clearer, more succinct and obviously more authoritative than any descriptive blog post. Google has a blog and so does Facebook, which you can fact-check before you get sucked into clickbait posts about digital giants.
- Attend Industry Events — In any job role, face-to-face interaction, mentorship and coaching are invaluable. If you’re signing up for the long haul, you might as well start planning your annual events schedule. Conferences like BrightonSEO are a godsend. They allow you to hear industry advice from many marketing professionals in one place. Remember, if you’re finding it hard to block out time for out of office activities, organisations like HubSpot run regular webinars that you can watch from your desk.