Introduction to Upcoming Two-Part Blog Series:
Those entering the marketing profession were taught that developing their talents in creative writing and data analysis would set them on a successful career path. But the savvy among us knows that adapting to the technological changes in how we apply those skills is critical in today’s world. Proficiency in design software along with managing social media accounts and developing strong SEO tactics are becoming the new norms in a marketer’s toolbox. Marketers today must engage in and demonstrate continuous learning.
This two-part series explores the technological know-how needed during the early stage of a junior marketer’s career and than will move into the more advanced skills essential for experienced marketers to grow their personal brand.
“Changing World, Changing Role - The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Marketer”
(Part 1 – Junior Marketers)
By Rosa Colon, Marketing Technology Manager, Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Life can turn on a dime. There’s been no greater example of this in our lifetime than the experience of this past year. Our lives have been in a seemingly endless spin. Not only have we been faced with an unimaginable health crisis but we also had to quickly pivot in every aspect—work and home. As 2020 progressed, it came as no surprise that technology had taken an even greater foothold across the board in our organizations.
For marketing technologists especially, the past year provided a unique opportunity for our roles within our firms. An opportunity to flex our MarTech muscles. Where previously we might have been mostly in the shadows implementing various tools and platforms; working across departments, managing service providers and integrations, losing sleep over delayed projects / potential blackouts / privacy concerns / advocating for centralized data warehouses with advanced visualization capabilities—the pandemic has placed a spotlight on us, the tools we manage, our roles and our distinct set of skills.
As we begin to emerge from the ashes of the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 was, it’s clearer now more than ever that the role of the marketing technologist is destined for its own dedicated seat at the leadership table and a necessary, integral part of our respective organizations and firms.
No doubt the world is changing at break-neck speeds which means that our roles as marketers and technologists are rapidly evolving, as well. Too often I hear stories of organizations focusing on a specific platform or tool solving all their respective “problems.” From my perspective, being a truly tech-savvy marketer does not rely on any one solution or technology but rather means consistently developing and building upon key fundamental skills and leveraging emerging technologies at each step to solve specific needs and anticipate future use cases.
With that being said, what skills should marketers (especially junior marketers) be nurturing today to ensure they are well prepared for this inevitable leadership role of marketing technologists? I think it’s important to go back to basics and consider the soft and hard skills needed to be agile and adaptable in these roles. Certainly not an exhaustive list however here are 5 fundamental skills every junior marketer and technophile should develop.
Interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence
Evaluating, implementing, and managing emerging technologies requires effective communication skills—written, non-verbal, and verbal. Day-to-day you are dealing with vendors, colleagues across departments and your clients. Efficiently providing solutions and tools to your organization means successfully exchanging information with other people. I added emotional intelligence as well because I think it’s incredibly important to understand your clients (in-house and externally) and challenges they face. Leading these conversations with empathy helps everyone and can also help you advocate and persuade, as needed.
Project management skills
Often overlooked, I think project management skills are another key foundational trait of the marketing technologist of tomorrow. Marketing projects can be complex with aggressive deadlines and limited budgets. They require meticulous planning, execution, and performance monitoring. Having a strong knowledge of project management techniques is essential to overall project success.
Strategic decision making skills
Marketing projects, in my personal opinion, should always consider an organization’s long-term strategic and business development goals. It’s extremely easy as a junior marketing technologist to focus on the issue at hand and neglect the bigger picture. Especially if you are not privy to conversations above your pay-grade, so-to-speak. Asking questions is a great and effective way to obtain clarity on projects. That allows you to discern the request and proceed with the best approach.
Data analysis and manipulation
A marketing technologists’ world is full of data and gaining access to data is only getting easier albeit more difficult to wrangle. Learning and implementing methods of effectively collecting, organizing, and analyzing data is essential to the role. With extremely powerful data visualization tools becoming more and more popular, I fear junior marketers will also miss out on a key rite of passage—learning (and loving) programs like Microsoft Excel.
Development architecture, frameworks and UX design
Implementing a MarTech stack means working with service providers and across departments as stated earlier, most often IT. While it’s not necessary for marketing technologists to be formally trained in these areas, it is necessary to have a general understanding. These groups also have a language of their own. Educating yourself on the language and concepts for web and application development architecture, frameworks, and user experience (UX) design is key to ensuring your MarTech success.
“Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.” - Branch Rickey
I once read that a marketing technologist is a “part doer, and part conductor of an orchestra.” That resonated with me because the visual was so powerful. As a marketing technology manager, I do feel like I’m conducting an orchestral masterpiece!
As awful as this past year has been, I’m hopeful and I do think that marketing technologists have been provided a lucky hand. If we’re intentional and purposeful in the skills we develop, the conversations we take part in, and the strategies we influence we can help elevate not only our organizations but our roles as well.
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