Digital Marketing Skills – back to the 60s

To quote the excellent and useful Econsultancy publication (2019), Skills of the Modern Marketer, the pre-digital models we have been using since the 60s are no longer viable in the 168 hours-a-week consumer landscape.

That’s why they developed the Modern Marketing Model which they claim “Fuses digital and classic marketing into one future-facing framework.” It’s worth a look, but hang on a mo baby.

They then set out the agenda for the survey:

  1. To identify the key skills required for a successful career in modern marketing
  2. To analyse how aligned marketers’ current skill sets are in relation to these identified skills
  3. To explore some of the key issues, challenges and opportunities around developing modern marketing skills

Something tells me that this is arse about face. Shouldn’t you do the research first and then develop the model? Anyhow.

They provide a useful 3-point definition of the word skill (I have paraphrased)

Marketing knowledge – experience

Marketing skills –capabilities

Marketing mindset – purpose

Their grand theory is that “Modern Marketers require these 3 distinguishable, yet mutual enforcing qualities.” Who would have thought? Marketers in the 60s, that’s who.

Perhaps their most profound observation is that only 54% of modern marketers have a marketing-related qualification.

Moreover, there has been an upsurge in agencies taking kids straight from school. These bright young things soon realise that the qualification they missed out on is very likely to effect future progress. So late nights and weekends on a degree apprenticeship are soon added to long hours in the office.

In a recent conversation with the global head of marketing at one of the world’s biggest brands, I learned that she and her team had no intention of hiring graduates with marketing degrees. They wanted people with data, psychology and numeracy skills. No mention whatsoever of Econsultancy’s marketing knowledge, skills or mindset there then.

What are we to make of these contra-indications? Don’t get me wrong, I know many of the expert contributors to the Econsultancy report. They are brilliant, well informed and know what they need. But what they need may not be what the student or job-hunter needs.

At the entry level, job skills are specific to channels – delivery and monitoring. At the next level, they are slightly more focused on cross-channel campaign development, delivery, monitoring and reporting. The step up thereafter, to driving the commercial development of the brand within the competitive context, is an exponential leap. Without serious exposure to context analysis, objective setting, strategy development, tactical production, metric benchmarking, analysis evaluation, budget optimisation and ROMI frameworks, your skills gap will be laid bare.

This is the stuff where brand integrity and job security are at stake. You can’t just have a go and keep your fingers crossed. You have to get this right. You have to be able to forecast with confidence.

In a groundbreaking Adobe survey, “Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?” conducted in 2013, they noted that “Only 9% of marketers feel they know their marketing is working well?” In 2022, a repeat survey found that 98% of CEOs are losing sleep over ROI and ROMI. Things have gone backwards.

Not if they have studied marketing with me or any of the professionals I have worked with over the past 40 years. The key point here is… study.

You either study the big picture stuff at a University-based Business School (like the MSC Digital Marketing at UWL) or on a professional Institution (like the Professional Diploma at CIM – The Chartered institute of Marketing). On the job training will only get you so far. It will help you develop the skills that are useful to your employer but not necessarily to your long-term future.

I have enjoyed an award-winning career in brand advertising, direct marketing and digital but the insatiable appetite for this fascinating and restlessly changing business was set where I currently teach, UWL (back in the day when it was an art school). I learned to love learning as much as integrated advertising. More recently, I have learned that helping the next generation of marketers who understand that identifying and developing real-world commercial and social opportunities is a 168-hour a week pastime that never gets old and gives you an edge in long-term career development.